The Wessels-take 2

The weather pattern in northern Australia was transitioning from the winter easterly trade winds to the summer monsoonal. Resulting in breaks in the 10-20kt Easterlies blowing from the direction I needed to sail, the 350miles to get back across the Gulf of Carpentaria.

My good friend Barry has genously signed up for 5 weeks onboard to help me get Logic back to Brisbane (Frazza number 4) and his son Brendon was coming along for the first 10 days. The pair of them flew into Gove Airport.

I met them in town for a provisioning, then a taxi ride back to the Boat Club    it took 2 loads in Albert, to get it all back to Logic the weather forecast was for another 5 days of 10-15kt Easterlies, before a weather window to get across the Gulf, so the obvious thing to do was to go back to the Wessell islands while we waited.

We were off at first light the next day for a brisk sail up to Miller Island along the way we hooked up a small, 2.5kg tuna while the “knife stealer” had left a bad taste in my mouth, his trick of feeding fishing trace line all the way down the spinal columb, results in the sashimi being spectacularly tender

fresh sashimi for the boys first lunch onboard Brendon enjoyed reeling in his first Spaniard (Spanish mackerel) he was looking forward to doing some spearfishing, so I acquainted him with the gun and sharpening the spear Before we knew it, we were at Miller Island a spectacular place to be, with a pristine sandy beach for sundowners the tidal current was so strong, we needed to rope up before jumping in for a swim Brendon had the fishing bug. Using the strong tidal current to float out a lure, before reeling it in. catching a long tom Brendon and I went of trolling in Albert. Catching a small groper (not great eating, so back it went)  the tidal current had abated by the time Barry went in for a cooling swim   the sun was setting, time to go ashore for a sundowners G&T.

The Wessels are so remote, un-spoilt and photogenic 



I went off for a small walk and came across numerous newly hatched, young turtles tumbling down the sand a clutch of turtles had decided they could not wait for the cover of darkness to come out of the sand and run for the water

they should have waited; the sand was still very hot in the sun. I could see that some had dies from the heat and other were looking very close to death, so we quickly gathered up the lethargic ones and raced then down to the cooling water then we just enjoyed the spectacle of 100 odd, baby turtles making their way to the sea

Brendon shot his videos in horizonal, and I shot in vertical, so I could not edit them together, so 2 videos unfortunately

When we looked around, the track where other female turtles had come ashore to lay their eggs became obvious

with the turtles gone it was time to enjoy that G&Twhile the sun set in the morning it was time to go spearfishing this is crocodile country. The advice from the locals in the bar, was to tow the person with the gun behind Albert. When he saw something, he wanted to spear (Coral Trout) he lets go and the tender hangs around, keeping an eye out for crocs.  Brendon speared a couple of nice size trout which we quickly filleted to bake the heads and frames for lunch next stop was Cumberland Strait between 2 of the big north-south islands

Brendon quickly had the lines out too land another big Spaniard Cumberland Strait was a surreal experience.

The deep hole in the start of the eastern side is 120mts deep, shallowing up to 12mts on the western side. It was like being on a high-speed travellator, as the boat speed increased from 6kts to 14.5kt

no turbulence, just speed, that I needed to be watching the log to appreciate

an amazing Wessels sunset in Hopeful Bay

Coral Trout tacos for dinner the next day on our way up to Jensen Bay, we went through all the pelagic fish of the Wessels

Giant Trevally barracuda   Queenfish

the main islands of the Wessels are very old sandstone, that have eroded like sheets of shale, with white sand between the pockets of sandstone 

the next morning Barry went up the mast to replace the anchor masthead light that he had flown in with the replacement, for the one that had died

the Wessells as you can see from the photos are spectacular. We did not see another boat and the only footprints on the sand were crocodile’s. the below waterline on Logic needed a scrape to remove the marine growth. We took her into the shallow, were Brendon and I jumped in the water with scrapers in hand, while Barry kept a good eye out for crocs.

Brendon, put his drone up for some specular footage of the island

the battery was getting flat, time to return to Logic for Barry to catch the drone  

The inland lake in the video is the only permeant fresh water in the Wessells, and for that matter Arnhem Land. As such it was a critical stopover for any explorer/merchant/trader, moving through northern Australia in the 15th to the 19th century. Unfortunately, in the 19th century they bought with them smallpox, which decimated the local aboriginal population, to the extent that by the early 20th century, there were none living in the Wessells. 

Coral Trout for dinner that night a morning cuppa as the sun rose

the it was time to do some fishing as we sailed south. If we went close to any headland or underwater structure, invariably a fishing reel would scream out line


a big barracuda It was Baz’s turn on the line

Brendon ended up being “king of the castle”, his was 10,3kgs to Barry’s 8.5kgs I have a small 12-volt camping fridge/freezer, which we decided to turn into a freezer, for Brandon to fly out of Thursday Island with 8kgs of frozen Mackerel fillets (and 6kgs of tuna). But first they needed filleting

then my (left-handed) reel, screamed out line. It was debatable whether I would end up landing what was on the hook. Then there was a big splash, followed by a smaller splash, and the fish had stopped fighting as vigorously. When I landed the fish, the answer was obvious….. a big shark had taken half of a good size queenfish.    there was still 4.2kgs of it left, which was quite a challenge to fillet

The Wessells are spectacular, but it is warm up here. Every day it gets to 35C in the saloon, and most nights are 30C (definitely a lot warmer than Cornwall Ted’s home country)But where else can you get deserted white sand beaches in ideal winds, with zero rain with as much delectable fresh fish as one could eat our last Wessell’s sunset (as the weather window to get across the Gulf of Carpentaria had arrived) Brendon spent the night in a hammock on deckcatching the sunrise we had to wait for the tide to slacken to get through the hole-in-the-wall, so Brendon put his drone up (Logic is under the arrow)great photos of the hole-in-the-wall. 

You can see where it bottlenecks and tidal current speed increases a rather spectacular drone video

Then it was time to take Logic through the hole-in-the-wall Brendon shoots far better videos than I do

next stop Thursday Island, on the other side of the Gulf of Carpentaria