Seisia to Wessel Islands (2 Island Bay - Arnhem Land)

Sat 9 Jul 2016 07:58

11:05.288S 136:43.457E

We left Seisia 9.30am on Saturday morning 25th June to catch one of the weird tidal streams in this area being with us at least for the first part of the day.  Sun was shining and a nice 15-20 knot wind was forecast.   Distance to Darwin just over 700 miles and we had decided to break the journey up with a rest stop at the Wessel Islands.  The Wessel Islands are a long thin chain of islands that make a natural break and stick out 50-60 miles between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Arafura Sea (no we had never heard of it before either!)  We were crossing North of the Gulf of Carpentaria. 
Syd’s downwind sailing system was put in place and off we went.  The first part of the day was okay other than the sea being ridiculously shallow (maximum 60 feet) causing the waves to be choppy and uncomfortable (reminded Syd of North Sea chop).  We had some wind shifts and sail changes but made good time.  Then as the sun went down (a time when you would assume the wind would drop) and my watch began the wind started picking up.  Darkness fell (no moon rise until 11.00pm) and the wind started to gust up to 35 knots as the boat lurched about.  Poor Syd had just gone into a lovely sleep and was rudely awaken by me shaking him.  Reefs went in and sails reduced.  At this point I left him to it.  The next day the sea was big though the wind had dropped a little to 20+ knots and though the sea had got deeper, the maximum depth it reached was 200 foot so the boat motion was pretty horrible!  The wind angle kept shifting to make keeping genoas out on both sides tricky and course changes were made and eventually both genoas went onto the same side, then a couple of hours later the pole was out again and they were back on different sides again.  Not at all an ‘armchair sail’ and all in nasty seas.  The second night loomed and I was waiting for a repeat of the night before but the wind stayed around 20 knots.  We had picked up a weather forecast that sounded as though it had been broadcast from a martian in outer space.  The gist being that a wind warning was in place for the Torres Strait forTuesday evening/night winds in excess of 30 knots with gusts a possible 40% higher.  A decision had to be made.  Did we make a run for it and try to beat it by sailing on to the next island for shelter 275 miles on OR did we make the planned stop in the Wessel Islands and maybe have to sit it out for several days?  Guess what – I left the decision to Syd . . . . . . . .
Decision was made when as we approached the Wessel Islands and he was totally exhausted so in we motored into a nice sheltered extremely remote looking bay and Syd finally managed to get some sleep.

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