Friday, October 26, 2012

Elcho Island to South Goulburn Island

Thursday - 25/10/2012 and Friday - 26/10/2012

(This chart shows our track from Gove to Goulburn Islands in red, the purple line identifies the Telstra Wi-Fi Internet service in these parts)

As I have said before we have Plan 'A', Plan 'B' and whatever, this is why people in this type of cruising life need to be able to sail at night.

We left Elcho Island before light this morning running the engines for a while to charge the batteries and getting clear of the headland, as the sun came up the wind came, not great wind but enough to sail. The engines shut down and we are under sail but only sailing at 4 to 5 knots but sailing which is good. Our plan is to sail the short cut through Milingimbi Inlet this area is listed as not surveyed or unsatisfactorily surveyed so we have to keep a very close watch, as I mentioned before where this area has been surveyed it was a very long time ago the chart has identified areas that have been reported that go back as far as 1937.

As we approached Milingimbi Passage the wind became sheltered by Crocodile Island on our starboard side, the waters were a beautiful blue colour and you could see some of the shallows. The other problem we have is that our paper charts that we purchased which is the full portfolio of charts between Cape York  to Port Headland do not have the close in scale from the bottom of Elcho Island to Cape Stewart it only has the broad area chart which does not show the greater detail of this area probably because the information is not reliable.

I have two chart plotters a Raymarine and a Garmin and it is surprising at times the difference of items and depths that are shown to be different with each other although the charts in each were purchased in the same year.
(This was our original planned route on C Map charts)
(This is the route I took, it probably would not have mattered if we had the tides right given that the tide difference is 3 metres and we were near low tide)

The electronic charts like the paper charts show a dotted line passage through Milingimbi Inlet and has written along it UNSURVEYED but it is unclear which side the line they are talking about because they have depths charted on both sides. I also have charts on my computer which indicate the passage to be down the centre and that is what I decided to do was follow that. About half way through I start to run out of water in the end I followed the starboard dotted line and found plenty of depth along this line  and continued to follow it right the way through and all was well, I must say though we had checked the tides at Crocodile Islands but found on the electronic charts there was another tide chart near Milingimbi that was totally opposite we were at low tide not high tide.
(Nancy on the bow as we pass through Milingimbi Inlet)
Milingimbi brings me back to the days I was on HMAS Attack in 1968 we patrolled the north coast and would come to these missions, I was fascinated with Milingimbi Aboriginal people lived in this mission under Methodist overseas mission information can be obtained on website,

What seemed so special in those times to me was that the area was well run and the Aborigines appeared to be very happy, they had split the mission into two different areas one the new time and one the old time and the Aborigines could choose which they wished to live. They had built cold rooms and had purchased a trawler and they would fish and send their catches to Darwin for sale along with their art works. The mission all ended in 1974 when the Aboriginal people got their independence, I believe that they are doing very well although I cannot help but think that in some cases the Aboriginal people have had the mission people replaced with some bureaucratic systems such as some land councils that are staffed by white people but I can't say for sure. It was fond times meeting these people and sailing these waters with a great crew that we had.

Our plan 'A' was to anchor at Cape Stewart which we found to be unsuitable due to the wind and sea direction, Plan 'B' was for the bay just beyond that Boucaut Bay, we reckoned that we could sneak in behind the point of the bay and get some protection, this failed because when we looked at the electronic charts it showed up as Aboriginal waters with a boundary that went down the bay and we are not allowed to anchor there. The next choice was our planned next anchorage being the Liverpool River but we would not make it before dark and I am not fond of entering rivers I do not know in the dark and infested with crocodiles. The decision was made that we head to the Goulburn Islands and that would mean we sail all night. As we were leaving Milingimbi Inlet a Perkins Barge was entering the passage into Milingimbi and a little while later an Army Barge passed us the only other vessel we have seen for a couple of days.
(Our visitor, a young Brown Boobie Bird, it did not appear to be frightened by us as you can see))
(Sun sets into a night sail we go)

The winds were with us and we were doing some great sailing although a little uncomfortable and this was going to make it hard to sleep when not on watch. We sailed along at around 8 knots. I stayed on watch until sunset as I knew I would not sleep and Nancy made dinner after putting that fish we caught back in the fridge because we would not be able to use the BBQ in this wind, she cooked some great curried sausages and rice. Just before sunset we had a visitor a young Brown Boobie bird landed on the forward deck and looked quite comfortable when I found it, we did not see it land. It sat there cleaning itself and as the sun set it tucked his beak into its back and fell asleep and stayed for the duration, in fact I think it was the only one that slept on board properly. We had a great sail right through the night, not any real sleep but a good sail. Nancy had a nap when I took the shift at 2000 hours and I tried to sleep when she took over at midnight, in the end I went on the cockpit cushions and just fell asleep when Nancy woke me as we neared Goulburn Islands. We arrived at the Goulburn Islands and it was still dark we decided with wind and sea the best place to anchor was South West Bay on South Goulburn Island and as a bonus I had Craig's or 'Scarlett's' waypoint for the anchorage from their around Oz trip last year. We rounded the point and noticed two other boats anchored but not where we wanted to go, one boat was well lit and looked like a patrol boat which ended up being a Customs patrol boat.
 (Chart showing Goulburn Islands)
(The anchorage at South West Goulburn Island Lat/Long shown)

We dropped the anchor just as first light was about to appear, our feathered friend was still with us and only moved away whilst Nancy got close to drop the anchor. After anchoring and tidying up we sat on the forward deck with our feathered friend and watched the sunrise, our friend was looking all around trying to find out where he or she was it was doing this continually for a long while, we could get very close to him or her and it did not appear to be scared. Our feathered friend had left several calling cards on the deck for me to clean up. The truth was that all the decks needed cleaning from anchoring at the islands with the fires and dust coming from them the boat was dirty, so I set to washing the decks with salt water after the sun was up our friend waddled to the front of the boat and finally went down to the water for a drink before flying off.
(Nancy with the feathered friend)
(The sun was up the bird waddled, boobies waddle with their web feet, went to the water dunked the head and had a drink then off it went)
(Early morning light)

When I had finished cleaning the Customs vessel called on the radio to take our particulars part of the coastal watch process they were very polite, I gave them our details and wished them a  good day as they did us.

(Customs patrol craft)
After the bird had gone we had breakfast and then I went had a wash and had a sleep today is a rest day we sail again tomorrow.

The following is an extract from the internet, it is unfortunate that we have not received any permits from the Northern Land Council, we emailed the Darwin office in July/August and did not receive an answer, the young lady in Gove said she would email the permits through it may be that it takes time to get them but we have not received anything to date so we have to respect the land owners and not go ashore.

The North and South Goulburn Islands are located in Auray Bay off the northern Arnhem Land coast. The islands are Aboriginal-owned and permits from the Northern Land Council are essential for all visitors. The Goulburn Islands are not set up for tourism, but intrepid sailors and fishermen may occasionally find themselves on their shores.

The Warruwi people are the traditional owners of the Goulburn Islands and the main language, Mawng, is spoken by about 750 people. Warruwi community is located on the southern tip of the south island and is a dry community (no alcohol). Fishing is the main pastime of local people, who are allowed to hunt the turtles and dugong prevalent in the area. The lifestyle is slow and relaxing and the climate is slightly cooler than Darwin.

(Sunset from the Goulburn Islands)




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