En route to Darwin
Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sat 25 Aug 2012 09:16
10:12.5S 134:57.7E 437 miles covered, 300 miles to go
So far this leg has been a classic trade wind sail, downwind in 15 to 20 knots of wind and silky smooth waves. Anastasia would have done better with another five knots of wind, but we can't really complain about these conditions.
The interesting part comes at Cape Don which is 200 miles ahead. We round the cape and then head south through the Van Diemen Gulf. Melville island blocks off a large part of the mouth of the gulf, so it causes strong tidal currents as the water ebbs and flows around the island to fill the gulf. The ideal timing is that you enter through the north passage while the gulf is sucking in water and make your way to the south passage by the time the gulf is emptying. To catch the tides you should ideally arrive at Cape Don four hours before high tide in Darwin. Get it wrong and it can take you several hours longer to traverse the gulf.
With the wind as it currently stands we will arrive at Cap Don between 18:00 and 19:00 tomorrow evening. The best entry time is 21:30 so we will be there a little bit early, but the gribs say that the wind will drop by a few knots as we approach the cape so we may well arrive there just at the right time.
Yesterday a brown seabird with a wicked long beak (a cormorant?) took up residence on the cabin roof. She was named "Ethel" (which is the customary response by the person on watch to the question "Anything out there?"). Ethel left a couple of times to go fishing but each time she returned after an hour or so. She was not a tidy house guest (the solar panels need a good clean now) so today, when we passed a fleet of fishing vessels, Ethel was encouraged to change residences. She did not want to go and just perched on the end of the boathook when prodded with it, but eventually unfolded her wings, took off, did a circuit of the boat and landed on the roof again.
Finally she got the message and took off in the direction of the fishing fleet. We are always sad to see visitors depart, but they make too much mess to be allowed to stay. (I am talking about Ethel, not Emily, you understand.)