Liverpool River to Mullet Bay, North Goulburn Island

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.

Goulburn Islands, Arnhem Land
Between the Goulburn Islands, a smoky sunset

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).

(Not so) Giant Trevally

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.

Mullet Bay Anchorage (map courtesy Navionics)