03 July 2007

Noon Update : 03-July-2007

Arnhem Coast
Arafura Sea
Northern Territory, Australia

  • 133nm last 24 hrs
  • 187nm to Darwin
  • 517nm from Thursday Island
  • winds SE 10-15 knots
  • seas S 2-3ft
Land Ho! New Year Island. First land sighting since leaving Thursday Island. Sandpiper is plugging away at 6 knots with the main and staysail out to starboard and our jib poled out to port. Even though we are now sailing along the coast after crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria, Sandpiper is 15 miles offshore, making this pretty much an open ocean passage until tonight.

Around 9pm we are hanging a left, go through the Dundas Strait, and enter Van Diemen Gulf. We then have one more narrow pass at Clarence Strait before we get to Darwin 167nm away (5pm fix) from here. We are hoping to arrive in Darwin late on the 4th, but most likely the morning of the 5th depending on how well we sail and tidal currents in the passes.

We have totally scored with the weather ever since leaving Thursday Island as the winds in this area are normally 20-30 knots. Today's winds are S-SE 15/20 knots and the next 2 days are predicted to be S-SE 20-25. Perfects sailing winds! One of the boats that crossed last week during the 'high wind' warnings experienced gusts up to 47 knots and said it was the worst passage they have ever had!

We had a little bit of a freak out the day we left Thursday Island. We had really light winds our diesel tanks are getting a little low. The forecast predicted really light winds just as we left the harbor, but the winds have been perfect and we are having a great ride.

Amy had a little freak out of her own last night when a war ship passed us at over 30 knots with waves smashing over their bow. She thought maybe there might be a new war going on that we do not know about yet.

Anchoring in Darwin will be a bit of a challenge as they have a tidal range of over 20ft! We will have to anchor a ways offshore as we do not want to come back from the bars and find Sandpiper lying on her side. The marinas in Darwin have locks (doors) that they only open at high tides. If they did not have this, then there would be no water in the marinas at low tide. Freaky!

Friends S/V Blue Sky and Shiraz are still in front of us. Blue Sky loves to run their engine and this gives them some extra speed. And Shiraz, being a catamaran, sails really fast.

More in 24,
Tom and Amy

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