Heading West - 10 50.62S 139 24.73E

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 19 Aug 2013 07:36
More on Seisia when the Internet is good enough to send pictures, but now it's back to sea again, heading due west. Haven't done that for a while! Headed out of Seisia yesterday morning and the above is our noon passage position after just over a day underway. The noon-to-noon run was 152 miles and the total distance since leaving is 175 miles, so good progress with a wind that's ranging anywhere from east (most of yesterday) and south east, and generally about 10-15kts, but it went higher overnight for a time. The good thing so far is that as it's been more east than southeast, the wave train is from the east, so right behind. It's a lot more comfortable that way. (Friends who did this passage in July had a short beam sea - not so comfortable!). It's not that deep at around 150ft so it doesn't take long to build up a nasty short sea when the wind comes up.
We're heading across the top of the Gulf of Carpentaria, in the northeast corner of Australia, which is about 330 miles across. It borders the Arafura Sea which runs right across the top of Australia. As we are going across the top of the Gulf, rather than into it, which others have done, it's a moot point as to whether we're in the Gulf or the Arafura Sea. 
Had 3 flying visitors so far, two of which stayed a while. A small tern spent several hours last night resting on the stern and a big booby (as big as a gannet) spent a couple of hours resting on the solar panel, just inches away from the blades of the wind generator. A few inches more and it would have bean a dead booby and £300 for a new set of blades! It was good to have company, but unfortunately they left more than memories and having tried to get the stains out of the bimini today, we hope they're the last we have for a while, certainly anything as big as a gannet! The 3rd flying visitor didn't stop - just as well as it was the Australian Maritime Patrol aircraft! It swooped low overhead and then called up, wanting to know who we were, details of the boat and where we had come from and were going to. It was all very friendly and it's nice to know they're out there somewhere.   
The weather's been sunny with mostly clear skies and being well offshore (150 miles or so from land) we had a great sunset last night and an equally good sunrise this morning. And, at this time of the lunar month, a lovely moon again, showing us the way at night.
All the way up the east coast we had hoped we would find another boat going in our direction. Being later in the season we thought we probably wouldn't until we got to the Great Barrier Reef, but even there we didn't so sailed all of the 1,900 miles from Sydney to Seisia on our own. However, we now have company. Mike and Sally on Jacaranda are also heading for Darwin and we're making the passage together. As they don't have a working SSB, we're trying to keep within VHF range and they're currently about 3 miles away. It's nice to see another light at night and to keep in touch during the day. They're from Portland in the UK and only left the UK after the Olympics last year, so traveling very fast!