After successfully negotiating the Gulf of Crapenteria (as Magda so cleverly put it), we had a lovely sail (sans motors) through Zuna Strait and Boat Harbour Channel (where the tidal current reverses) and then past Thursday Island to our anchorage in the lee of Horn Island – much better in the strong SE winds than anchoring at TI. The other problem with anchoring at TI is that you cannot take any fruit and veggies back to the mainland because of quarantine restrictions.
Then it recommenced bucketing down, different to down south rain – more volume and at times horizontal. Camelot was getting a good wash.
Next morning it wouldn’t let up and by 10 o’clock we decided to don our wet weather gear and brave a dingy ride to Horn Island. After visiting the local supermarket, we paid $5 each way (for the cheap ferry – beware there is an expensive one) and caught the cheap local ferry across to Thursday Island (beware there is an expensive one that charges 3 times as much).
Thursday Island was a lovely little place. Old style variety shops full of everything except what you want. We tried desperately to buy some 10mm double braid to replace our second reef line. They had 8mm and what looked like 12mm but no 10mm. Asked at one shop whether they had any on their computer system and they looked blankly at me.
No luck on getting anything for the Halloween Party on Lizard Island either.
We had lunch at the Torres Strait Pub, drawn in by their sign that said “Australia’s Top Pub”. $15 for a crayfish pie – can’t beat that. After popping our nose in each shop, we headed for the local supermarket and did our provisioning for the leg down to Cairns.
Then it was back to the ferry and into the dingy and back to Camelot.
However Camelot wasn’t exactly where we had left her. She was dragging back dangerously close to a trawler called Fishalot. We had 60m of chain out and we’d been there 24 hours but these tides are vicious, running through at 2-3kts and you swing 180 degrees with each change of tide – the last one of which must have pulled the anchor free.
Robin from Flashdancer, a 46” Lightwave Motor Cruiser. Had come across with some fenders and we got there just in time. On with the motors, up anchor and over to another spot. Firmly in the one spot I hopped in the dingy and headed over to Flashdancer with a bottle of white wine. Robin and Sylvie welcomed me on board and I ended up drinking some of their beer and wine. They are a great couple and I enjoyed talking to them about their diving adventures, their amazing photos and my next adventure to France, as Sylvie is from Brittany where I am picking up La Mischief, having done a lot of yacht delivery work out of Sables D’Olonne.
Next morning, we had a leisurely start as we had a fuel booking at 10.30am at the dock. The dock was a bit challenging – the middle pylon had fallen inwards and there was the usual 2-3 knot current running through it. Never the less, the crew did brilliantly, putting up with my shouting and we filled up at $1.64 a litre – not bad for way up here.
Then it was off to Seisa for the night. With three reefs in we battled our way down Boat Harbour Channel. In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to the wind and less attention to the tides and gone round the back of Horn Island – somehow the skipper had got a little too focused on the tides.
Anyway we made it okay and got to Seisa at about 3pm, dropping anchor in a lovely little harbour between Red Island and the Coast. After reading about the memorial to the guy that was taken by the croc on the beach here, we braved the dingy and headed for shore.
This is the main caravan park on the Cape and there were a few tourists around. After checking out the supermarket and buying some icecreams, we headed to the fishing club – but alas no Karaoke tonight. Instead we chatted to a couple of other yachties and power boaters who were heading to Darwin and some guys who were up there building a child care centre – a lot of which had just arrived on a barge tied up to the dock.
Next morning, it was off to the top of Australia – the Cape – via Possession Island. We had a lovely sail around to Possession Island, where Captain Cook took possession of Australia for Britain. We landed on the main beach and set off to find the memorial to Cook, but soon became apparent that we wouldn’t be doing it from this beach.
We upped anchor and sailed around the corner and there it was, on a cliff face staring at us. Oh well, we got reasonably close.
Then it was a bit of a bash over to the Cape into a brisk SE. After negotiating some shallow water – my fault for trying to cut the corner – we found the best spot to anchor in 3m of water, still well out from the beach.
We left Dragan to do a phone interview and headed in with cameras loaded. The tide was out making a beach landing difficult, but we found a place up near the rocks where we didn’t have to pull the dingy 100m through 6 inches of water and took her in there.
We then climbed up the rocks and found the obligatory sign saying “You are Standing at the Top of Australia” and snapped away. Climbing to the tob of the cliffs we enjoyed a stunning view – my first glimpse of the East Coast of Australia – quite an achievement having sailed round from the West Coast. Felt like one of those Spanish Conquistadors who’d sailed to the East Coast of the Americas and had climbed across the Panama peninsular to lay his eyes on the Pacific for the first time.
Back at the boat, Dragan had finished his interview and went with Darren to do the same.
A busy day exploring the top of Australia.