Left North Goulburn Island at high tide, around 8:30am and rode the ebb tide all morning, up to a knot from behind. Fresh SE winds, up to 25 knots at times, pushed us along with poled out headsail. We saw several surfs of 11-12 knots and averaged 6.8 knots for the day. The last hour or so we had the wind on the beam, ripping along at 8 knots or so. Real sailing for a change!
The island is rather pretty, with nice bays, red rocky cliffs and sandy beaches. We poked around in the dinghy taking soundings around our anchorage and then went ashore. We still haven’t grown weary of a gorgeous sunset, often reddened by smoke from the fires on land that seem to be common here in Arnhem Land.
Yotties info: the anchorage at Valentia Island turned out to be very snug. While it appears not to offer great shelter from the SE wind there is very little fetch from the mainland and so no real sea to contend with. We anchored in about 4.2 metres on a 1.3m tide, so just under 3 metres at LWS. We interpolated the Cape Cockburn and Point David tides, which seemed to be about right – we didn’t bump at spring low tide in the middle of the night – as far as I know. Good holding in silty sand. Note that the track below includes our dinghy ride to the beach!
A long day for us as we’ve gotten used to 35 mile days, getting to the next anchorage by lunchtime. We had to get out of Liverpool River (about 9 miles) , sail the 45 odd miles to the Goulburn Islands and then give the south-west corner of North Goulburn Island a wide berth to clear the reef extending SE.
Tides were a factor: we had to leave just on high tide (around 8am) and get to the Goulburn Islands just after the afternoonhigh tide (6pm) or face a stiff tidal rip going the other way as we passed between South and North Goulburn Islands. It was also full moon the previous night, so a spring tide made tidal effects even more significant.
With the wind dead astern and a rolly sea, sailing was a mixed bag and we motored a fair bit, making water when the ocean was not too milky. A nice size Trevally caught on the troll had us feeling a bit guilty when it started loudly croaking while I performed the last rites with a knife. We soon got over it and it was cleaned and marinaded for the evening’s stir fry, which turned out to be a huge success (Teriyaki, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, chilli, garlic and spring onion went into the marinade).
Yotties info: currents through most of the narrow channels in Arnhem Land “ebb west/flood east”. The channel between the Goulburn Islands is meant to be the same, but it continued to set east (against our course and into the wind) for at least an hour after high tide. This was on a full moon spring tide, so our experience may not hold for other times.
Mullet Bay is tricky to get into. There’s reefs and rocks to contend with and, disconcertingly, the bottom is reef/rock with deep (2m) cracks and crevices visible on the sounder. This holds until the bottom shoals to about 5 metres, where it becomes a smooth sandy bottom. We motored up and down parallel to the beach for a while before we got close/shallow enough to find good anchoring. Once there, however, the anchor set securely on the first attempt. The anchor and chain also came up spotlessly clean the next morning, free from the toffee-consistency grey clay we had dragged up in Liverpool River. A coarse clean sand is assumed to be on the bottom.
The day has finally dawned for departure on our new adventure. We’ve set aside a minimum of six months to go cruising and see how we like the lifestyle. We were anchored overnight in Morning Bay, Pittwater (Sydney) and set the alarm for 5:30AM, planning to be underway by first light and have sails up by sunrise. It was clear and cold (April weather) and we procrastinated a bit, but by 6:15AM Maria had weighed anchor and we were sailing up Pittwater towards Barrenjoey Head.
Our target for today – a safe, easy sail/motor to Broughton Island, east of Nelson Bay.
Sitting still in one place finally lost its appeal, after 3 weeks of almost non-stop northerlies trapping us in the marina at Urangan Boat Harbour. We set off for Lady Musgrave Island at 3:30pm today, aiming to get there by mid morning tomorrow. The forecast is for light (8-12 knots) south easterlies tonight, but so far we’ve been treated to 15-20 knots of of the North East. A boisterous ride, what with a choppy beam sea and all, but making excellent miles. Not sure why we should want to arrive at 3am, as we can’t go into the lagoon until it’s well and truly light (it helps to be able to see the coral ‘bommies’). Hey ho, it’s bound to slow down through the night!