Fw: Escape River, The Albany passage, Cape York, Siesia, The Endeavour Strait,The Gulf of Carpenteria, and the shackle debacle.

Thu 15 Jul 2010 01:48
----- Original Message -----
From: SY Fleck
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 3:06 AM
Subject: Escape River, The Albany passage, Cape York, Siesia, The Endeavour Strait,The Gulf of Carpenteria, and the shackle debacle.

Previous anchorages
Escape River, July 9th  10:57.1S 142:41.1E
Siesia, July 10th  10:50.9S 142:21.7E
Current position, noon, Tuesday 13th July  10:56S 137:49.4E
Goodness, how all this has flown by! We made the Escape River entrance with an hour of daylight to spare, but it is quite wide, and we might have dared to go in with our GPS waypoints, however we would then have fallen foul of some very extensive cultured pearl beds, so daylight was good, although ther was not much else to see. Flat and uninterresting, like an Essex marsh. Bleak and windy too, but no longer cold: we don't really need clothes any more, but rest assured, father and daughter are obying the conventions of contemporary society! Off at first light to catch the flood tide around Cape York, a grand sail, with suddenly great scenery after two days of flat shorelines, and the Albany passage in particular looked spectacular as we flashed through it at up to 10kts. In no time we were taking photos of the Bromsgrove School Bear off Cape York, and then headed towards a little Aborigine settlement called Siesia. There is a wharf, a sheltered anchorage, and a large 4wd camp site for those intrepid souls who have braved the rutted tracks and river fords of the overland route to the end of this particular world. All the vehicles, and the occupants, were covered in thick red dust. Good news is that with a constant tourist stream there is an extraordinarily good supermarket for a two bit village, and we could get all that we needed for the next part of our trip 'across the top'. We also got 80 litres of water from the town tap on the jetty. Hannah was a star trying to lift the Jerry jugs back to our dinghy, which a cute little aborigine kid was diligently filling with sand. Siesia anchorage was both restful, and interresting with local boating, and visitors and locals fishing shoulder to shoulder along the wharf. No peace for the wicked however, and we were off at first light again the next morning to catch the flood stream down the Endeavour Channel: the most southerly of the passages through the Torres Strait. Again the timing was good and nature spat us out into the Gulf of Carpenteria at a rate of knots.
It is strange to be at sea again, after a year of coasting, and nice to relax a bit with the chartkeeping and watches. There is only one waypoint in our dear old GPS now: off the tip of Cape Wessel. As I write it is 70 miles away. No big ships seen on our radar detector for a day now, but we are just in sight of another yacht, and we have just been buzzed by a low flying twin engined plane: ?coastguard.
As we bedded Fleck down for the night two days ago I decided that the third reef should be taken in. In trying to do this without coming off the run I put rather too much strain on the main halyard, or at least its 39Aus$ shackle, which burst open with the unfortunate consequence that the sail dropped to the decks, and the halyard (rope that pulls the sail up!) retreated to the masthead. Fortunately it didn't unthread itself, and drop down the inside of the mast: the worst case scenario; but there is only one way to retrieve a halyard in that position: you have to go and get it. Definately a job for daylight, and so we set the staysail overnight, and actually it is still there: so easily managed. However we needed the halyard if possible and so after breakfast next day I was off up the mast, Hannah doing an excellent job of maintaining tension on the rope between the masthead and my harness. Trouble was that the boat was rollling quite vigorously. Not so bad at deck level, but at 40 feet up there is about 20 feet of travel, to and fro, every 2.5 secs. At the end of each swing you have to grip the mast very tightly indeed to stop becoming a human pendulum. Fortunately the rope was easily untangled and pulled down;  nevertheless, my shoulder and upper arm muscles, such as they are, were wobbly bits of jelly by the time we were back on deck.Maybe I should work out? No it's much too late for that! Of course having completed that exercise in quite gusty conditions, the wind settled alarmingly, and overnight we have been ghosting along, making me anxious again about our schedules. A breeze struck up at about 004.00 however, and we are now going well again.
Hannah finds the days at sea quite long, but is uncomplaining, and an avid reader. Magnetic scrabble is good, but we both tend to fall asleep! The boat's motion really precludes music practice for either of us.Her 'DS' still works, but her 'Ipod touch' is out of comssion: it needs to dock with the mother ship, or somesuch! I of course am happy as Larry. We do try to do things together, and made a cake yesterday, very successful, but the flour was years old, and had a plastic taint from the container: too much for a young palatte to cope with! I really enjoyed my portion: a sort of fruit flan, with tinned fruit, cake and UHT cream!. I have created a story centred around Alcester Grammer School, and am constantly badgered for more chapters. As the children grow up we are soon going to run into some tricky themes! Talking of which we are both enjoying Jane Eyre, and are more than a third through. We both hold similar views about Mr Rochester, so we will see how it turns out. I finally finished '100 years of solitude', a great read, and have been really impressed by Roberto Balano's 2666. I confess that I gave up on 'The Savage Deterctives' after a hundred pages or so, perhaps I should give that another go in the future. I have also started the millenium trilogy featuring the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Give me back Inspector Rebus, please.
Life is just too short: we could have spent six months on this leg alone, and still have left out plenty for a second visit. Another downside is that we have spent so long sailing, that there has been very little shore time. Anyway after two years the wonderful East Coast of Australia is behind us, and new adventues beckon!