Posted 27th June 2012.
Made Gove by Saturday lunch, two and bit days from Seisia. First night the wind was a little light to continually fill the screecher so the sail thrashed around sounding like a bullet going off each time the new cloth filled. However, this was better than attempting to use the main in the confused seas as the sail battens would have been working overtime. First light the second day we furled the screecher and flew the symmetrical spinnaker which was better, it was able to remain full as both clews can move with the wind and boat. The forecast was for the wind to move more to the south and build giving us a better reaching angle to Gove. By the second night we had dowsed the spinnaker and again flew the screecher overnight but this time in more wind and a better angle making about 8 knots. By morning we had too much wind for the screecher so swopped it for the genoa and then attempted to use out newly learnt tactic of raising the main whilst holding course. Non sailors can skip this next bit.
First we brought the leeward lazyjack to the mast, moved the traveller fully to windward and tightened the third reefing line. This enabled us to raise the sail to the third reefing point on the mast without the sail catching in the lazyjacks or behind the stays. We then loosen the third reefing line and take up on the second reefing line. We can now raise the sail to the second reefing point on the mast. At this point we decided we had enough sail up so we pulled up the lazy jack to gather up the loose sail and set the sail by dropping the traveller and trimming the mainsheet. Easy hey, it’s only taken four years to attempt this, past practice when raising the mainsail underway has seen us take in the headsail and motor to windward in big seas whilst Glor attempts to raise the main halyard on her own.
Saturday morning the wind was gusting 30knots and we had a great reach towards Gove making 10,11 knots at times. Choked on sulphur fumes and got covered in tailings blown off the land dumps as we pasted sailing into the harbour. We were lucky with the timing as boats that left a day after us got hammered in the Gulf of Carpentaria with winds reaching 45 knots resulting in very unpleasant seas and many sick crew members.
Gove, hard to describe. We’re anchored off the Yacht club, mangroves in front of the boat, huge bauxite factory off the stern, town 12k away. Luckily the SE wind is now blowing all pollution in the other direction from the anchorage. The Yacht club is friendly; we’ve eaten there twice and survived.
On Monday we walked the 12k into town, take the scenic track through the bush the locals advised. More like scrub with thin gum trees sticking up. The path was paved so easy walking with the occasional sidesteps to avoid elephant size dung mountains Turns out that wild water buffalo roam the bush. One recently hit town, killed one person and ran straight thru the swimming pool fence and out the other side. So now we have to watch out for crocs, stingers, snakes, buffalo and packs of wild dogs, great country!
Gove town centre has a Woolworths, two cafes, a few other shops and a couple of liquor stores. Had lunch at one of the cafes, shopped in Woolworths for provisions, walked around the town and 2.5 minutes later ended up in one of the liquor stores. Got my box of 30 cans to the counter were the young boy asked to see my liquor permit, had word got out about the Scally secret drinking den? You’re probably thinking maybe it was because of my youthful looks, but no, apparently liquor can only be sold in the area to permit holders. “Just go to the Government office and apply for one” the boy said. Not wanting to take up residence in town whilst the bureaucracy fired up we decided on this occasion to give it a miss and survive on the remaining six beers for the next 400 miles to Darwin. Two days later reality kicked in, we needed that permit but more on that later.
The smart ones amongst you will have picked that the permit relates the Aborigines and an attempt to control their drinking. They certainly appear to be in a sad situation a huge contrast to the happy Fijians. Have yet to see one smile and most avoid any eye contact, they just seem lost. Maybe it’s in their character or maybe they have good reason to be the way they are. It’s hard for us to make any judgement as we’ve heard both sides take on the situation, real tricky problem.
Tuesday was a sad day as we said goodbye to Keith and Christine who left early in the morning to fly back to NZ. The boat seemed very quiet with them gone as they’ve been with us for a month and covered a lot of miles. We’ll all have good memories of some fun times and great sailing.
Rather than heading off again today we decided to go into town again with Colin and Marion to knock over this permit issue. It ended up being easier that we imagined, only two forms and we were good to go. Well nearly, liquor can only be sold in Gove after 2pm. So after another visit to Woolworths were we luckily picked up the last of the bananas we headed out of town to the bakery for meat pies. Anyway, the story has a happy ending as 60 cans should see us through to Darwin.
Tomorrow we’ll say goodbye to Gove and try and negotiate the tides to get through fisrt The English Company Island and then the Wessel Islands. Although heading west through both, one require a flood tide the next an ebb tide, very strange.
Cheers for now.
Paul & Glor
12 11’54.48 S, 136 42’19.32 E
12-06-27 18:19:31 +1000 +0000