This morning we picked up the anchor just after dawn and headed around to the Gugari Rip (or Hole in the Wall). We planned to be there about 30mins before high tide, but we were a bit earlier.
The channel was quite calm but the current was flowing strongly - over 4 knots pushing us though. With both engines on (just in case), idle speed, we managed 9 knots over the ground!
On the other side, we raised the mainsail and started motorsailing in light breezes - which went around to the SE. Very convenient. With genoa and main and a bit of engine we were making reasonable progress.
It didn’t last long, and soon the wind shifted to the NE. However, it did pick up more than forecast, so we’ve been sailing most of the day, albeit in slightly the wrong direction. It doesn’t really matter as we have quite some distance to go. 350nm across the gulf to Seisia, which is only 20nm down from Cape York, the most northern point of mainland Australia.
The gulf, like the Bonaparte Gulf between the Kimberley and Darwin, has a bit of a reputation as being very windy. Indeed, the whole of the Torres Straits are the windiest tradewind location in the world (according to the books). So the fact we’re making progress across, under sail, in what is pretty nice conditions is taken as a bonus. Sure at the moment we’re sailing more towards Weipa than Seisia, but we’re still sailing mostly east and making miles across the gulf.
The forecast is for the wind to drop off towards the evening and overnight. Then tomorrow is much as today but lighter. We had expected to motor today and tomorrow. Then in the evening it will go around to the north. This is what we want, as that will allow us to lay the course to Seisia, hopefully undersail again. We’d like to be in by Saturday sometime, but if we end up south of the Endeavour straits, its not a big deal - plenty of coast to anchor off. We’ll just see how we go. Its nice sailing rather than motoring - it feels like we’ve done too much of that recently…