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Thursday Island, Torres Strait, Australia, July 29th - 31st 2007 (by Bart)
Thursday island is one of the many islands in the Torres Strait. The narrow water way between Papua New Guinea and Australia. After sailing 2 days we arrive at the Bligh entrance, the beginning of the Torres Strait. It is very shallow, between 5-50 meters. Before us are 120 miles of reefs and islands. In the early days without GPS, this was the most difficult passage on the whole trip around the world. Nowadays it's easier, but still one has to be very careful and navigate carefully between the narrow passages between the islands and reefs. A few wrecks show not everybody has been as lucky. With both, the chart plotter and the computer with navigating software on, we made sure, the whole day and night, we were exactly there, were we wanted to be.
The night is exciting, specially at one point in the middle of the night around 3 o'clock, when a big tanker shows up in front of us and a container ship behind us. We are just about to sail between 2 islands. The channel is about 1 mile wide. We speak on the radio and tell all ships, that we will stay on the north side of the channel. The man on watch from the tanker responds and asked us to stay in the middle of the channel, so the ships pass us at both sides, only a few hundred meters away from us. It appears, he is from Holland, too, and we make some small talk. We had the same feeling, which you have, if you pass a busy street and make a stop in the middle and the cars rush by in front and behind you.
Everything runs smoothly and we arrive at Thursday island early in the morning. We anchor in front of the wharf and call up customs, who appear not to be in office. So we take it easy, clean inside and relax. We are both tired after an almost sleepless night.
The next morning Custom and Quarantine show up and clear us in. They are very thorough fully and very friendly. Most boats are a little afraid of them, because the are very strict about food items, wood carvings etc. But if you be honest and stick to the rules everything is OK.
In the morning I repaired the 12m. kite for some afternoon kiting. But the customs officers advised us that one shouldn't go in the water, because there are lots of crocodiles. 2 days ago he saw them sunbathing on the beach. The sweet water crocs are up to 60 kg and not very aggressive, but the 'salties', as they are called, can become up to 7 meters long and up to 1000 kg and very aggressive. So... no kiting here. We walk around town and do some shopping. The first western supermarket, since a long time, with all the goodies we have been longing for.
The day before "Ohana Kai", with Bruce, Lisa, Tristan and Matthew arrived. Just before we leave, we have them over for breakfast. We and specially Soleil enjoys the company. Soleil didn't see any boat kids since 2 months.
Crossing Arafura Sea, Australia, August 1st-5th, 2007 (by Bart)
We leave for Darwin around noon, a 5 day+ crossing. Between the islands in the Torres strait we have 6 knots of current. With a nice breeze and the current we fly out of the Torres Strait to the the Arafura Sea. Finally we are in the INDIAN OCEAN, for us a big milestone. The watercolor is different, the weather is different, no swell for once. Life is beautiful again. You would say, again? Isn't life always beautiful for us. Well, just a few days ago I was puking my inside out in 35 knots of wind with 2 swell directions. So, no, life wasn't beautiful. And we have been sailing to much lately. 20 days on the water in June and 22 in July. We do this (sailing around) to see the islands, the countries and not just the sea. But yes, we have to make some deadlines. But we promise ourselves to take it easy the next 2 months in Indonesia. We caught a nice Wahoo and had fish for 3 days.
When we entered the Van Dieman Gulf, we were very lucky. We had the tide coming in and entered exactly at low tide. Like I said, lucky because our tide tables were screwed up. We made an average of more than 10 knots (normally max. is about 7 knots) for 4 hours then we were in the Gulf. The tide changed for a few hours just before it's with us again going through some small islands and had another 10 knots session. We expected to get to Darwin the next day, but now we were suddenly very close. We decided to enter the anchorage in Darwin at night. The charts are very good and there wasn't a lot of swell or wind. At 11pm we dropped anchor and had a very goodnight sleep.
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, August 6th-16th, 2007 (by Dagmar and Bart)
A busy little frontier town with all the goodies and luxuries we haven't seen for a few months. We amazed us in the supermarket and all the shops here. We could stock up for the next few months and made a few small repairs.
We as well found a nice fishing shop, so we could buy some more lures and hooks to make up for all lures, which were bitten off lately by too big fish or sharks. We had nice dinners and went to the movies, to THE DECKCHAIR CINEMA for Pirates of the Caribbean III, and to the Mall for Harry Potter.
And we met our friends on "de Pelikaan" again, our friends from Holland, who we haven't seen for over 3 months. Soleil is very happy to have her best boat friends again to play with. The next day our friends on "Ohana Kai" arrived too, with more kids to play with. Although we met some new friends, Kelly and Kelly from the yacht "Moorea" and Peter from "Bow Tie Lady".
August 9th, the DARWIN FESTIVAL started. So we could join some cultural events in town, the SANTOS CONCERT as the opening night on the Esplanade with Saltwater Band, B2M and Leah Flanagan...
and TRADITIONAL INDIGENOUS DANCE at Star Shell Botanic Gardens featuring the KENBI DANCERS, representing the cultural link to the Larrakia people, the people who in ancient times lived in the Darwin area. The group is unique in that women and children take an integral part in the traditional dances. Soleil, Roxy and River could join the dancers and practice their moves...
...and WHITE COCKADOO with their bungul (dance) and manikay (song), a part of one of the earth's oldest unbroken traditions.
On August 11th we visited the DARWIN CROCODILE FARM, 60 km South of Darwin.
Everybody is getting exited now to go to Indonesia. We expect to find some waves to surf und we are all looking forward to a new culture after 1 year in the Pacific Ocean.
Last modified: September 02, 2008