We headed off from Gove on November the 4th with a great weather forecast. Light to variable easterly winds. We had three days to get there before the weather window would inevitable shut. Two Yachts; Moonlight Shadow, Maverick Dream and one power boat Sunbird left the day before us and had a rough first day. We were glad we waited as we had 5 knots of NE breezes with a 1.5m swell. All was good and we easily got into the rhythm and settled in to our passage making routine. We were in company with Badar, Rampager and Yampi and talking on the radio seeing how everyone was going. The other three boats were up in front and having problems and we were catching them up.
Our second day was amazing as the Gulf waters were like glass. Rampager was our constant companion as we traveled around the same speed and it was good to look out and see a friend. As we got closer to the other Yachts we could hear the dramas that were unfolding ahead.
There are two types of people on the water, people who are self-sufficient and competent and those that are totally reliant on others and are incompetent. Everyone can have breakdowns, and make mistakes but it’s how you handle these problems that separate the two groups. The latter are a real danger to themselves and others and should not be on the water.
This crossing sorted the two groups out and I’ll just say that Mike from Sunbird put his family and others in danger. 12 hours out of Gove, Mike checked his fuel and found that he was missing he said 500 litres of fuel which he said was stolen from his boat. How? We had fuel on the decks in convenient jerry cans, as did other yachts and we never had any go missing. Sunbird Rule no 1 – don’t take responsibility for yourself blame others. So he kept steaming along with still ¾ of the journey to go. Why he didn’t turn back to Groote Island is a mystery although his arrogance would suggest that he would have thought someone would help him out. He eventually ran out of fuel which even the unseaworthiest (my word) of people know that it is the biggest no no of all. When he did run out of fuel, instead of calling for help, he decided to bob around the ocean for 12 hours and wait for the other two yachts to catch up and give him a hand. Jim and Garry asked him what he’d tried to do to help himself. Nothing. So the boys went onto his boat and siphoned fuel from his four fuel tanks and put it into one. Sunbird Rule no 2 – don’t help yourself, wait for someone to come along to help. So they get on their way but he then gets a rope caught around his prop! He calls us up as were only 2 hours away and asks Tony, back to rule 2, to come and unhook the rope for him. Tony refused and said he didn’t feel comfortable getting in the water, “there’s no crocs” is his lame reply. Tony didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of us helping him even though we were on our way. He said OK and then proceeded to tell us that he had poor Ruth and Garry under the boat getting it off. Garry later told us that Ruth told him to get in the water and get it off…and he did! They borrowed fuel from all who could spare it. We couldn’t as we didn’t want to leave ourselves in danger if the weather went bad. We passed them mid afternoon and continued on our way a little more hastily as not to get caught with the next Sunbird drama. I have to tell you Sunbird Rule no3 – don’t go out of your way to say thanks with a cold beer or a meal, just use and abuse, till everyone hides and doesn’t answer their radios or phones. I will add in this that Ruth and her girls are the victims in his sagas and I really like Ruth, she has a good heart, just not a good husband.
Tuesday 6th November
From our point of view our crossing of the gulf was another dream run, although we had to motor all the way due to calm seas we were stoked because the alternative was not a good one. The crossing took 64 hours and we traveled a total of 349nm with absolutely perfect conditions. The girls we fantastic and Tony and I had a great time. Our night watches were easy and we felt great when we pulled into Seisia at midnight a couple of hours after Badar and Maverick Dream. Daylight revealed the rest of our fleet except Sunbird who had anchored up waiting for the tides or someone to come and rescue them again.
Just after daylight everyone was up pacing the decks and by 0600 everyone was on Maverick Dream with Champers and beer having a much needed “therapy session”. Everyone was shaking their heads, all talking at once and getting it all out there on the table no holes barred. It was good, we all needed too, we laughed and everyone felt a little freer when they went back to their yachts for a alcohol induced nanna nap.
Seisia is a lovely little Islander Community. There are also three other inland Communities which are Aboriginal and represent three tribes (I think), Bamaga, Inaloo and XXXXXX Seisia is on the western side of Cape York 20 nm down from the tip (not rubbish tip)
We met some great locals and hung out with them. Greg who we met first, came over one morning at 0630 on his way to work and introduced himself. He is a great guy who is very friendly, my home is your home person, We talked yachts and boats, places and people. That first day we went up to his shed and did some washing and then he took us for a drive around Bagama. We also met his Dad who is a gentleman in every sense of the word. He also had two big dogs who the girls instantly loved and whom Greg said he could box up and put on our boat. The girls eyes were wide and sparkling at the possibility.
During the evenings the yachts got together under a little shelter on the beach and had Sundowners. It was great and we’d all tell of our stories of the days activities.
Tony and I were finishing our beer one night when we met Rodney one of Gregs mate who was going for a ride to the islands with his family a couple of friends the following day and asked if we would like to join them. Of course we would! Greg had told us about Rodney and his family and the girls were excited to play with other kids.
So Sunday we pulled up anchor and off we went following a lovely timber fishing boat towing two tinnies. We were at our destination after about an hour of steaming and dropped anchor off Little Damon Island. It had a little sand bar and the water was clear enough for swimming which we all did. With Rodney and his wife Shalene and their kids, they were joined by another family Manny (local copper) and his wife Mel and their kids. The kids spent time in the water for a dip and then all played really nicely with each other. Manny went fishing and provided a lunch of cooked fish on the coals which was delicious. We had a great day and the kids sailed back to Sesia with us for a treat.
We visited Greg at his shed and checked the weather and chatted. He’s a really nice bloke and very genuine.
Mel invited me to a candle party (like Tupperware) one the evening. Tony was the only bloke until Manny came home from work. The evening was great and I met a few more of the local women. Manny and Tony were on BBQ duty where the vet was giving their two dogs a check up and injections on the front porch. The kids were playing in the rooms. It was very chaotic but everything just flowed really easy and was very relaxed. At 10pm after helping tidy up I asked if they could take us home because I knew that they were catching a plane the next day and were getting up at 5am. Manny said no, not until Tony helps him drink the esky dry! It was still ¾ full so we settled in, talked bout everything and had an amazing night. At 2.30am Mels friend (who doesn’t drink) drove us home.
The following day was a bit slow.
On the weekend we too Rodney and Shalene out on Tonic. We were headed off to XXXXXXXXXXto the James Cook XXXXXXXXXXXX for a walk. It rained a soon as we got out the and didn’t stop. I made lunch and the kids played in the rain. Shalene felt crook, so she had a sleep with her little boy in our bed. She woke feeling much better and we headed for home. Although it doesn’t sound too good we all had a really nice day. We saw the James Cook XXXXXXXxx from a distance and that was OK
Rodney and Shalene lent us their Landcruiser, just like our last one and we headed up to the tip with John and Suzie from Badar. It was awesome driving through the bush and feeling the road rumble underneath us. The simple things you miss as a yachty.
During the week a cyclone Guba formed off the coast and Tony and I were monitoring that closely as the BOM website had it tracking across the tip of the Cape to where we were anchored. Each update the cyclone moved closer although it was degraded from a cat 3 to a Cat 2 all the yachties had something to talk about during the afternoon rendezvous. The majority of yachties took their leed from Tony. Before Guba got a chance to hit it was degraded to a tropical low which was expected by Tony