When we departed Port Douglas we had to motor sail for most of the day.
Thereafter, the wind was force 6 most of the way to Thursday Island. We saw
quite a few cargo ships, mainly traveling southwards. In one place, a cargo
ship overtook us by less than half a nautical mile, while at the same time,
another passed in the other direction, one nautical mile off. As we were as
far to starboard as possible without hitting the reef there was no room for
us to manoeuvre further. As this episode occurred at the beginning of my
watch, I was soon very alert, despite it being only 6am.
With mainly following winds, we would have normally used the parasailer but
with the wind deflected by the mainland and the islands, plus the need to
avoid reefs as well as islands, in addition to catering for the headlands,
we felt that it was safer to use the genoa and main sail, both of which were
reefed most of the time. It also avoided having to change sails constantly.
However, I have to say that having coped with the main-sail and genoa for
downwind sailing on this occasion; I wonder that more boats don't have
The boat is moving much more quickly through the water since it was
anti-fouled in Mackay. The expensive, Japanese, Sea-jet anti-fouling which
we have been using, is supposed to be good for two seasons/two years but
obviously this is with a loss of speed.
We have had sunshine almost all day every day and having moved further
north, it is now too warm to use the duvet which we had resurrected from
under the bed in the bow cabin, as we approached Australia.
I cut Dick's hair while we were on passage but it was much to windy to do
this on deck so we both squeezed into our heads and while Dick sat on the
pedestal, I cut his hair which was a bit risky at times.
The white sand beaches of the Whitsundays were replaced by golden sand
beaches on the islands and the mainland, as we neared Port Douglas and have
remained so since. One could spend a lifetime cruising the eastern coast of
Australia; a single season would not be adequate. Our short time here can
only give us the tiniest glimpse of a sailing paradise.
I managed to catch a cold while on the Brisbane trip and it has remained
with me, even beyond Thursday Island, affectionately known by the locals as
TI. Apart from the discomfort and the additional difficulty sleeping, the
main problem was that I couldn't dive off the Great Barrier Reef!
Fortunately no-one else on board was afflicted so at least Moe and Bev were
able to take the trip and had two good dives. It also gave them the
opportunity to wear the new shortie wet suits that they had purchased while
A dolphin approached the boat during the afternoon of the day prior to
reaching Thursday Island, where we arrived at the anchorage around 7am on
Tuesday, 17th August and picked up a buoy. Later we were advised by Destiny,
another WARC boat who had arrived the previous day and also picked up a
buoy, that the buoys were privately owned. As Destiny had not been asked to
move, we thought that we would also take our chances.
Most of the boats in the rally anchored in less swell, off Horn Island, from
whence they can get a ferry to Thursday Island.
Tuesday afternoon, Moe and Bev took the rib ashore to do a reconnaissance
and with the wind blowing up to 26knots there was a lot of chop. They were
soaked when they got back to the boat. Trying to get in and out of the rib
from the boat is something of a nightmare when there is a lot of swell. The
rib throws itself all over the place like a bucking bronco.
Mid afternoon a Mayday came over the VHF. A boat had grounded and needed
assistance within two hours. The situation was being controlled and there
was no need for us to get involved.
That night, the hillside of the Prince of Wales Island was glowing red where
a forest fire appeared to have started during the morning and taken hold
during the day. Eventually, when it seemed that the fire might spread
towards residential property; the fire brigade attended in force and
remained throughout the night.
Wednesday, late afternoon, those members of the fleet who had already
arrived at Thursday Island, attended a cocktail party ashore. A mist fell
early evening, hiding from us the boats at anchor off Horn Island and the
now much reduced smoke, still emanating from Prince of Wales Island. Next
morning, although the mist was still with us, we could now see the WARC
boats at anchor across the bay. It seemed odd that with the wind blowing in
excess of 25 knots, gusting 31knots, that the low cloud had not been blown
At least five boats are making their way directly to Darwin and not stopping
here, so only 14 WARC boats took part in the official start at noon,
Taking note of the advice that our originally planned route would be
shadowed by Cape York, for about 60 miles, we altered our route to travel
further north. Checking the progress made by the WARC boats during role call
next morning, we thought that those which hadn't changed their route made
the correct decision. By the following day, most of the other boats had now
also moved northwards.
At 6pm, the wind having reduced from force6 gusting 7, to force 5 with an
occasional gust at force 6, we replaced the genoa with the smaller of the
two parasailors. The wind increased around 7pm, back to force 6 and just as
we were about to bring down the parasailor, it blew out. The moderate seas
are something of a hindrance because when we surf down a wave, the boat is
no longer under our control. Big waves can easily disarm a parasailor,
making it vulnerable to blowing out. However, we did record 16knots, a top
speed for Tucanon.
The sun was a huge red disc set in the misty, hazy sky, some fifteen minutes
before it was due to sink below the horizon. Then suddenly, the sun just
disappeared having been enveloped by the low cloud.
On the second day of the passage to Darwin, around 11am, 150 nautical miles
on and 23 hours since we left the start line at Thursday Island, we raised
the mainsail for the first time having used only the genoa previously, other
than the short interlude when we flew the parasailor. We also saw a turtle,
as well as a sea snake, off to port.
Day three of the trip, we saw another turtle and another sea snake, also off
to port as well as a pod of pink Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. They don't
usually frolic around the bows of boats so we were thrilled that several
stayed a short while with us.
The wind is now down to force 4-5 and force 5-6 although the sea still has
quite a bit of moderate in it. Visibility is excellent and at 7am, we could
see the sails of other WARC boats, over six miles away.
The generator stopped charging the batteries and it transpired that the fuse
had actually burnt out. Fortunately Dick had a spare which he fitted post
haste, so that the rolls for lunch and the naan bread for supper could be
cooked in the convection oven. The gas oven could have been utilized but the
maximum temperature which can be achieved is only 160ºC.