Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Through the Torres Straight

We've had a wonderfully varied day; from close hauled to dead-downwind sailing, with varying strength wind, and a mixture of short surfing waves to calm seas. After twelve hours of intricate navigation and active foredeck and cockpit work we made the 83 miles from last night's anchorage to round Cape York, cleared the Torres Straight and entered the Arafura sea. All helped by a favourable current for most of the day, at times reaching 3.5 knots, although this was more through luck than judgement; our information on Australia tides and currents around the Torres Straight is limited.

The weather followed yesterday's pattern, overcast with light drizzle in the morning, but gradually clearing through the day. We caught our first sight of the Australian mainland this morning, through the drizzle, spying a low coastline. Checking with the chart, it appears we'd spotted Orford Ness and False Orford Ness; it seems I've travelled half way round the world only to end up sailing up the coast of Suffolk. From a distance the lighthouse tower on Wyborn Reef looked like an abandoned Martello tower adding to the sense of dislocation.

We'd decided to take a short-cut and head-up the Albany Pass between Cape York on the mainland and Albany Island. As we were propelled towards the opening on the back of some large swells I belatedly wondered if the naming in the vicinity was caused by shifting treacherous sandbanks in river entrances, renowned on the East coast of England. Anxiously watching the depth gauge and committed to the entrance, we suddenly found ourselves in calm water speeding up the pass with a good breeze behind us and half a knot of current to help. The haze lifted as we sped passed a red soil covered in Australian bush interspersed with sandy bays - definitely antipodean not Suffolk. Slightly frustrating to see land and yet not be able to stop.

We'd left the anchorage before Mata'irea again this morning and despite frequently checking our rear-view-mirror hadn't seen them. As we left the Albany Pass they appeared heading in our direction fast under full sail. They'd sailed round the outside of Albany Island while we'd taken the short-cut and kept our lead. Much fun, taking photos as they bore down on us, only to turn away at the last minute and anchor for the night to complete some repair work before the passage to Darwin.
Great news for us as we have a day's start on them. The race to Darwin is back on....

Today's culinary innovation: Charlotta's pan bread wrap.
  • Make some pan bread
  • Slice in two
  • Butter each half
  • Flash fry some flour-covered mahi-mahi fillets
  • Thinly slice some three week-old cabbage
  • Dig around in the fridge for the remains of a tomato based dish
  • Ditto in the fridge for some tartar sauce.
  • Squeeze some lemon over the fish, saving the lemon for future use (onboard, lemons don't grow on trees)
  • Assemble the ingredients between the two halves of the pan bread
  • Eat outside in case of filling spillage
  • Repeat until sated.
Position @ 11.20 (GMT +10) 8/7/2008: S10°53.7' E141°28.7'
Distance to Van Diemen Gulf: 541

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