Queensland - Darwin 2009

Meridian of Sydney


22 May, 2009
Well, Meridian is now in the Marlin Marina, Cairns after 10 days on the hard. We had planned 3 days but rain every day for a week put a stop to that. While in the yard we had the bottom sanded and painted, rust spots fixed up on the deck, the drive belts replaced, a few sail repairs, support for the new wind
generator fitted, new depth sounder transducer, etc, etc. Needless to say, much money has changed hands.

We plan leaving Cairns on Friday, heading for Lizard Island with a few stops on the reef as we head north. We hope to arrive in Darwin around the end of June to early July. The Indonesia Rally departs Darwin on July 18th. Read all about it here http://www.sailindonesia.net/home/home.php - at last count there were 129 entries.

You will be able to follow our travels by going to this link, so bookmark it now!


May - June 2009

After leaving Cairns, we had overnight stops at Upolo Cay on the reef, Hope Islands, Cape Flattery on the way to Lizard Island.  We stayed in Lizard for a week, meeting meeting many Rally entrants during drinks on the beach, most days.  While there we climbed Cook's Look, visited the Research station and generally had a good time waiting for the weather to abate.

From Lizard Is, there were more day hops to Ingram Is, Ninian Bay, Flinders Group, Morris Is, Portland Roads, Margaret Bay, Escape River then Cape York.  This was about 350 NM from Lizard Is.  We celebrated reaching the "top" of Australia with friends Peter and Donna. Just around the corner from the Cape is the small town of Seisia where we were able to get a few more provisions (at a price!). This was the jumping off point to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, a 3 day trip.

14th June 2009

We are now in Seisia on the western tip of Cape York. Its a nice little town, not much here except camping grounds, supermarket and servo. The nearest town is Bamaga. As we travel along we keep meeting more and more rally boats, and quite a few social occasions have been held.

We have had reasonable weather north, although it blew pretty hard while we were at Lizard Island for a week.

16th June

Today we will leave to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, aiming for Cape Wessel. From there we will make our way westward to Darwin. We want to be there before the 5th July to welcome Ian, Kellie, Tom and Mia. They will spend a couple of weeks visiting and touring. We are looking forward to this very much as we haven't seen a lot of Mia, now 2 and a bit.

19th June

Landfall was at Cape Wessels, the northeastern tip of Arnhem Land. Winds were fairly brisk and the seas built to around 2 - 3m on the beam so it was quite rolly at times.  After a day resting we caught up with Greg and Janise on Windchimes. They had been a bit ahead of us all the way from Cairns. A few more day hops to Port Essington, then it was an overnighter to Darwin. We had to time our run carefully to get the favourable currents with the big tides.

At 4am after going through Howard Passage at 10 kts, we had a call from Windchimes as they had an engine fire! The fire was put out quite quickly, but the boat was full of smoke. There wasn't anything we could do right then, so we just drifted with the tide while Paul and Greg had a sleep. At first light, about 6:30am, we took Windchimes alongside and we towed them against the current for 20 miles into the anchorage. Windchimes has been repaired by the insurance company, so all is well.

We had 3 weeks to prepare for the departure, and we don't know where all that time went! We were busy every day doing jobs on a list that kept on growing. Provisioning was an important task and Judy managed that extremely well. Meanwhile trying to get spares was not always easy.

The highlight for us though was the arrival of Ian and Tom, followed by Kellie and Mia - delayed by flu. They went off to Kakadu and Katherine while we went around in circles in Darwin. On their return we enjoyed their company - a trip to the Moscow Circus was a treat for all, but it was all the more enjoyable seeing the excitement and wonder on the kids' faces. Paul's birthday was celebrated with a trip to Berry Springs and then dinner out with Ian, Kellie, Janise and Greg (who was also a birthday boy).

As the week progressed, the running around became more frantic. We had to organise our duty free goods, Customs, etc, etc. All too soon, it was departure time. After farewells to the family, it was time to raise the anchor, set the sails and head north. The fleet is 135 boats but some left early. It was still quite a sight as many boats headed for the Start line. Unfortunately, the wind didn't come to the start, so we had to motor for a while. A nice breeze sprung up in the afternoon but didn't last so the motor is on again.

Our destination is Saumlaki in eastern Indonesia, a distance of 300 miles from Darwin, so around 2-1/2 to 3 days depending on the wind. from there we go to Ambon, then up to the north of Sulawesi to Bitung and Manado. A big marine festival is being held there with the US aircraft carrier 'George Washington", 41 warships, tall ships and some of the Sail Indonesia fleet. This parade will be reviewed by the Indo President SBY. Some have said its too far so they will give it a miss.