Escape River to Cape York
Thu 23 Jun 2016 05:53
Tuesday, 21st June Midsummers/Midwinters Day (Down Under). 8.00am start (lie in!) for the epic journey to Cape York. We re-traced our course out of Escape River (not trusting the moving sandbars!) Syd got the downwind sailing system set up and off we went in a good 20 knot South Easterly wind. Albany Passage loomed ahead. Tides in this area do very weird and wonderful things and instead of simply coming in and going out have an extra mini tide in the middle so it seemed we had a 3 hour tide that would be running with us through the Albany Passage (without this the only option was to go around the outside). We got closer to the entrance and could see standing waves across the mouth (not a good sign!). A group of people on the headland in a 4wd waved encouragingly but it all looked very ominous. Syd was glued to his precious i.pad and looked ill as we closed in towards the breaking waves. He altered course to clear the worst of the surf and we glided into a different world – the wind dropped, the sea was dead flat and we skimmed along silently doing an amazing 9+ knots with the tidal flow. It was quite idyllic as we shot out of the other end into a lovely calm sea. A total surprise I had expected the Torres Straits to be a wild and windy place – this could not have been more different. We sailed on with a blue sky and sunshine and saw Cape York ahead. We rounded Eborac Island and York Island the 2 off-lying islands to the Cape and dropped anchor right next to the iconic Cape – the most Northerly point in the Australian continent.
Dinghy down, outboard on and off we zoomed to do the obligatory pilgrimage to the point. We were not alone, it is a ‘must do’ for a lot of Australians who drive up in 4wds and endure all sorts of hardships, red mud roads, tracks, river crossings, campsites and crocs to get to this point – we did it the comparatively easy way.
It was a lovely walk across the granite boulders on a well worn path to the point.
We had left the dinghy floating with 2 anchors holding it firmly in the sand as the tide here goes out a long way. I persuaded Syd to do a walk along the very long white sand beach (we had been cooped up on the boat for too long!). When we got back the dinghy was high and dry. Quite obviously my fault for insisting on the walk! We tried dragging it to the still receding sea but it was far too heavy with the outboard and fuel tank in it, so no option but to take both off and leave them on the sand while we hauled the dinghy to the sea, then collected the outboard, fuel tank and anchor. All this in 35 degree heat! Once safely back on board we were relaxing with a gallon of water when a helicopter flew low over us, it headed to the Cape (we assumed a tourist flight). Next a large RIB filled with police zoomed past. The helicopter hovered over the Cape and a man was dropped on a winch to rescue someone who had either fallen or been taken ill. The person was airlifted off and the police zoomed back past us. Peace fell once more over the most Northerly point in Australia.