Thursday Island to Gove

As I wrote in my last blog, Plan A of spending a few months cruising the islands in the Torres Straight, had a realty check.

Plan B was to go to Darwin. I got the reply emails for the marinas in Darwin, there is no space for a catamaran of Logic‘s size.

It’s 350 miles to Gove, then another 400miles to Darwin. The tides in Darwin are 6mts, necessitating the marinas needing locks. Access ashore via Albert, from the anchorages off the shore, will be time limited and tidal dependent. Plus, I then need to get back to Gove against the easterly trade winds.

So a Plan C needed some researching.

There where a number of favorable reviews about The Gove Boat Club, the tides are only 2.5mts and a couple of fellow cruisers had raved about cruising The Wessel Islands, 50 miles NNW of Gove (you can see them above Gove on the wind map above, they run north-south, across the easterly trade winds, so plenty of protected anchorages).

So Plan C is now, go to Gove, and cruise nearby, until the monsoonal weather pattern starts  replacing the dry, E-SEly, winter, trade winds, in late September/October. Using the first weather window to get back to Thursday Island and then making the most of the ideal winds to cruise down, through the Great Barrier Reef, from October to December. Back to Brisbane for Christmas, with not just one grandchild but two, after Louis’ brother comes into the world, next month.

————back to the immediate situation —–

We came through The Albany Passage at 7am, with a Strong Wind Warning from astern. to then still need 20 miles to the anchorage behind Horn Island the anchorage off Thursday Island is on the southern side of the island, exposed to the southerly winds while the northerly anchorage on Horn Island is well protected from the southerly winds to tie Albert up  to the jetty on Horn Island and catch the ferry too and from Thursday Island Thursday Island was no anything like I expected.

To give these remote tradition owners the comparable education and health outcomes of a large city, necessitates a lot of nurses, teachers, police, associated bureaucrats and then all the necessary tradespeople and merchants. As a result, the Caucasians vastly outnumbered the indigenous Torres Straight Islanders (the vast majority of the indigenous islanders don’t live on Thursday Island)

To get these non-indigenous people to relocate in this remote location, necessitates paying them a lot more than they would be paid in a mainland city. Thursday Island (TI) is 1.5 miles by 0.6 miles, but still everybody appears to own a car and drives everywhere, which probably sums up the affluence.

There is a supermarket, with comparable fresh fruit and veg to Cairns and everything else we needed in groceries and hardware, plus a well stocked bottle-shop. Prices were around 25% more than I was paying in Cairns, definitely weren’t more than 50%.

We caught the ferry across to TI, walked along the foreshore  going past the Federal Hotel with it’s iconic, very dated, non PC wall mural

a few more beers and a feed at The Grand Hotel and it was time to catch the ferry back to Horn Island and Logic for a sleep.

A 120yo catholic church dominated the skyline of TI, the town. It felt that this was the time for my biannual, recognition of my catholic upbringing. So we caught the ferry to TI, for Sunday Mass. a lovely sevice in a very open, breezy church, by a priest (that to my eyes) looked like an indigenous islander, but was in fact from India the Sunday morning deserted main street in the town (remembering the island is 1.5 miles by 0.6 miles)

Kev was not a overly impressed by TI, so we sailed off to Gove after 3 nights on anchor.

Sailing past TI in the conditions we had become use to overcast, and windya SSEly change came through 6 hours out, resulting a swell, akin to what I experienced with Lisa going into Bass Straight 5 years ago. 1.5mt short sharp swells, with 20kts of wind from the beam.The waves were slamming into the boat, working the autopilot excessively, forcing us to pull away 20 degrees, knowing the wind was forecast to swing east.

I took this photo of the sunrise, which sums up our night (overcast and disturbed swell)  the sunride the next morning was the opposite(clouds braking up and calm seas)and then Gove appeared on the horizon After trolling fishing lines all the way from Cairns, we finally, not just hooked a fish, we landed one, a 5kg big eyed tuna. Then to prove it was not a fluke, the right handed rod and reel screamed off another strike (I’m left handed, we were running two lines, one left handed and one right, I reeled in the ones on the left handed and Kev the ones on the right)

fresh sashimi for breakfastafter 10 weeks, I am now 2,000 miles  from Brisbane Kev flew out of Gove, to go back to Christchurch NZ, to start his Mumby build.

For his last sundowners on Logic, he opened a coconut.  for rum and coconut juice on the cabin roof, as the sun set over the shut down alumina refinery Gove is indeed as great a spot as it was purported to be.

Logic is anchored 300mts from the dingy dockwhich is just in front of The Gove Boat Club for $10/week I have access to hot showers, toilet and washing machines. Plus access to the club for meals 5 days a week and cold beer it is peek 4WD season up here now, with the caravan park full of red dusted, 4WDs and caravans

the “gray nomads” outnumber the cruising yachties in the Boat Club bar by a factor of 100 to 1

The red dust is even an issue for me

Inverall Bay, where I am anchored is surrounded by Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine. There is 25km conveyor belt transporting the bauxite from the surface mine near by, to the loading wharf, where is loaded onto bulk shipping carriers. The alumina refinery (which used bunker oil for energy) is now shut down, awaiting demolition, The tailings dams to the east of me, are now having 100s of million of dollars spend on their rehabilitation.   

The shut down refinery gives the anchorage feeling like one of those post apocalyptic movies it is rather gorgeous here.

The days are 29C (86F), nights get down to 19C (66F). No rain (after the massive amount of rain, that Brisbane had over last summer). there is usually 15kts of breeze which acts like a fan during the day, and keeps the mosquitos away at night. The dingy dock is not crowded (no climbing over other tenders to tie up). No jet skis, with their noise and wash. No boats going past with their wash, throwing Logic around.  And cold beer and good meals 5 mins away. It is going to be hard, going back to marina living.

Off the yacht club, there is this structure, for boats to tie up to an refill their water tanks rather than going to that effort I have been going there in Albert and filling every water container I have 90lts a trip, is good passive exercise, rapidly reducing my Covid kilos I’ve been rowing Albert ashore, rather than using the outboard.

The bus service into town ceased over Covid and has not resumed, so I’m hitchhiking.

The road in front of the Boat Club does not get a lot of traffic. So I’m walking a kilometer up to the main road, to hitch a ride from under the conveyor belt.After a fortnight in Gove, I’m getting itchy feet, The Wessel Islands are looking very invitingBut first I have an appointment with a skin doctor tomorrow (19th August). There is a worrying lump on the outside of an ear, and something that does not feel right on my cheek. Hopefully they will not need surgical removal and I can go cruising, if not I’ll be in     Gove for a while longer.

I have not been looking for crew, until I see the Skin Doctor. If you want to do some cruising around Northern Australia, or down the Queensland Coast, get in contact.  My phone number does not have reception up here, so you won’t get hold of me on it. I do have  SIM that does work. email works, as will Facebook messenger.