Australia - again
We did not know that we should see Australia with Empire for the second time during this looong voyage, when we left Australia from Darwin in September 2009. We were now looking forward to see more of Australia – and to meet many of our Australian friends from the first visit to the continent again.
This time we arrived in Australia via Gove. We also visited Gove during our first visit to Australia. Gove is not exactly the center of the earth, but one of the places that you are allowed to enter Australia when you arrive with a yacht from overseas. Gove is positioned on the west side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and is a small community based on bauxite. Large areas around Melville Bay are bauxite quarries and in the bauxite processing plant they work 24/7.
Shortly after arrival we met Frances, Ted and Bjørn from the Australian/Swedish yacht Kaylie again. We got to know each other during our first visit to Gove. We were very happy to see them again. When we sailed from Gove about one year earlier, we did not know when we would meet them again.
With friends guiding us around and taking us here and there in their car, preparations for the ongoing voyage were easy. It was time for ultra sound check for pregnant Heidi and Empire had to be stocked with diesel and food for the trip south inside The Great Barrier Reef. Thanks to Frances this only took a couple of days. There is no public transport in Gove, and with car it is a 15 minutes drive from the anchorage with Gove Yacht Club to the “city centre”…
We hope that we one day can give the same service back, when they visit us in Norway!
Christopher Blake that had sailed with us from Malaysia to Gove signed off in Gove. With plane he flew from Gove via Brisbane and across the “dam” to New Zealand. Back home there was a possibility that a job with team New Zealand might would show up.
Stardancer, the Australian yacht with Andrew and Anne that arrived in Gove the same night as Empire, were heading in the same direction as us – around Cape York and south inside The Great Barrier Reef. We challenged them to race us across the Gulf of Carpentaria. We were looking forward to an active but calm voyage across The Gulf.
The voyage became anything but calm. With a well grown gale in the face the voyage also became longer than expected. The shallow water gave steep waves. Stardancer threw in the towel after 1½ days of sailing and returned to Gove. Empire sailed across and anchored just west of Cape York after a little less than four days. It was a long time since we had had that much saltwater flying over deck.
Gale from south south east is the normal near Cape York and along the northern part of the east coast at this time of the year. The direction we wanted to sail after rounding Cape York was also south south east, so we were expecting heavy headwind sailing further on. Luckily there were calmer days in between, but not many...
The Great Barrier Reef
The wind eased a little after a few days and we hoisted the anchor and rounded Cape York. Along the northern part of the east coast also the current sets north. Our progress by sail heading south was not much to brag about. When we in the afternoon tacked north of the same island for the third time, we threw in the towel. Headwind sailing without any progress was too much even for Empire`s stubborn Captain. Motor-sailing turned out to be our solution to obtain an acceptable progress. We sneaked along the inside of the inner reefs to hide from the seas and to avoid most of the north going current – and came all the way to Portland Roads before dropping the anchor. The weather forecast promised stronger wind for the coming days...
Stuck in Portland Roads
Because of the weather we used several days anchored in Portland Roads to maintenance and repairs. The radar antenna and the tricolor light in the mast head were out of order. Luckily we managed to repair both. The 17th of May (the Norwegian National Day) was celebrated with hoisting the anchor. M/v Endeavour Bay anchored in Portland Roads in the morning of the 17. May. We used the opportunity to stock up on diesel and chocolate. On board Empire we were pretty low on both at this stage...
M/v Endeavour is sailing along the east coast. She is delivering supplies to the remote places along the northern part of the east coast. You can order supplies from shopping centers in Townsville delivered on board m/v Endeavour. A few days later the goods will be delivered “on your door step”. It was possible to buy fuel and chocolate directly on board m/v Endeavour Bay without any pre order – lucky for us!
The calmer conditions did not last for long. In lee of Howick Island we anchored again, since the wind rose to more than “comfortable” conditions.
After a couple of nights anchored off Howick Island the winds calmed down a bit. We used the opportunity to head for Lizzard Island. After a 10 hour sail we anchored off Lizzard Island as the sun set. The weather forecast promised continued calm conditions, so we got up early the following morning. The wind even stayed calm, so we waved to Cairns and continued on south to Townsville. From Townsville and south we knew that there was a chance to catch other wind directions – not only headwinds.
Back in Townswille
Things always take shorter time when you have been there before. After a few days in Townsville all things on the list were done. We also got time to meet up with friends from our first visit in the city, but the stay this time became a bit short. Luckily we will have the chance to meet our friends again when we in about a year`s time are heading north…
Rendezvous with Hilde – in Australia
It does not happen every day that 2 Norwegian yachts - both Bavaria, both 42 feet – are anchored in the same bay in Australia. S/y Hilde sailed from Norway in 2008 with plans for a one year cruise to the Atlantic Ocean and back – but plans were changed and the cruise prolonged. Empire was supposed to be underway toward South Africa, but as known our plans also changed. We met outside Arlie Beach inside The Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Hilde on her way north, Empire on her way south. We had a long memorable Saturday evening anchored together when we met Reidun and Finn in s/y Hilde – and their Swedish friends in s/y Blue – near Arlie Beach! Unfortunately - in each our direction.
This far south we started to notice that we were no longer in the tropics – and that the summer was coming to an end. We had to dress in more clothes than short pants, especially on the night watches. At this side of the globe winter was closing in. The air felt like fresh early Norwegian spring time!
Margrete and Reidar
When we arrived in Rosslyn Bay Marina we were looking forward to meet Margrete and Reidar. Originally we met Norwegian Reidar (75) in New Caledonia, when he singlehanded sailed a Jeanneau from the Mediterranean to Australia. The second time we met was when we visited Margrete and Reidar in their home in Byfield near Yeppoon, on our way north along the Australian east coast in 2009. Margrete and Reidar “sailed” from Norway many years ago and settled in Australia!
Also this time they picked us up in Rosslyn Bay Marina and took us to their home in Byfield. Their home in Byfield is for sale. Margrete and Reidar have bought a nice house in Yeppoon, to make the everyday life easier as they get older. If you are interested in a very nice place to live in Australia, just look up ”Byfield” on the Internet…
We really found the tone together during our first visit to Margrete` and Reidar`s home, and we picked up the same tone. We also met their son Carl in New Caledonia. This time he brought his son Erik (4) for the visit to his parents in Byfiled and Yeppoon. Erik and Eirik also hit the tone and became good friends during the visit. They raced about who could sit on the tractor...
From Rosslyn Bay we headed south in nice winds. Wind from west is offshore wind and gave no waves and nice speed. As we closed in on Bundaberg the wind changed toward south and we found it better to anchor in Bundaberg Port – where we also dropped the hook when we arrived in Australia for the first time – from New Caledonia.
After three days - with the wind back on south west - we headed south east in Harvey Bay inside Fraiser Island – and through The Great Sandy Strait. It felt good to have sailed in these waters before, as the water some places in the “Strait” is VERY shallow. We anchored once mid way in the Strait, to be able to continue with the rising tide. Some places the chart showed depths of 0,4 meters. Through without troubles we anchored inside Wide Bay Bar.
The wind eased off as promised and we sailed across Wide Bay Bar without any problems. We headed for Manly just south of Brisbane.
It was time for the 19 week`s pregnancy check. Heidi had an appointment with the doctor in Manly the day we arrived. The waiting week until the ultra sound could be done was spent in Moreton Bay just outside Brisbane, looking for Dugongs. Unfortunately we did not find any Dugongs. The ultra sound scan showed that everything seemed to be ok with the little one inside Heidi.
Also this time we headed south from Manly in protected waters through the shallow canals to Southport. There we headed out to sea through “Seaway” – before the course was set for Yamba.
The last stretch gave us exciting whale experiences. The Humpback whale was as usual at this time of the year emigrating from Antarctic to warmer waters. With 5 occasions we saw Humpback whales jump out of the Pacific Ocean! Before we headed in to the Clarence River we were met by dolphins. They followed us almost all the way in to Yamba Marina. It was just as they said “welcome back”…
We were back where we departed in beginning of June 2009. Eirik was back where he signed on board in March 2009. Now as a 16 month old kid he had 11930 nautical miles of sailing experience!!! We were looking forward to meet friends and it felt GOOD to be back.