After a night at the tip of Australia, our next step was to get to Seisha and then make the big jump across the Gulf of Carpenteria - this would be our first trip away from the coast and longer than just the few overnighters we have done so far.
We left around half seven in the morning to ride the rising tide and had a fast short sail and stopped after 8 miles at Possession Island. Dropped anchor in the bay just out from the clear-to-see reef and dighy’d at high speed back to where the monument to Cook was. Landing was difficult as first we had to cross shallow coral and the beach was rock lined but we managed to find a patch of sand next to the shore with just enough water over it to anchor the inflatable. Walked down the beach and up the concrete steps to read the plaque.
This is where after months of exploring the east Australian coast, and The Endevour was about to escape the maze of the Great Barrier Reef, Cook jumped ashore at this small island to place a flag and claim Australia for Great Britain -
almost as an afterthought - and strange he should do it on an island rather than the mainland.
If you think about it - perhaps too much - this has great significance for many of us. If Australia wasn’t part of the British Empire, Naomi’s relatives may have never emigrated here and never met, and Naomi would not exist. Life’s mostly just a big lottery I suppose.
Back at Luna Ray we set off straight away as the flooding tide was about to turn. Another hour or so and we were heading toward the coast and following the markers around Red Island and into the anchorage at Seisha - just south of the large jetty.
We have now been here a full week. Turns out we should have really left to cross the Gulf on the day we came to Seisha and now we have been stuck here waiting for the strong winds to die down to make the 3 day trip. Saying we are stuck is a bit mean as its a good spot - a flat anchorage, campsite nearby with mains water, warm showers and washing machines, a Kiosk where we
have enjoyed a couple of lunches out (the Top End burgers are great - but do require you to dislocate your jaw to eat them), and well stocked supermarket also near the beach.
It already feels like we have left Australia here - it has more the feel of a Pacific island small town. Not just because the Torres Strait locals have dark skin and have their own lingo but the whole place has that dirty dusty partly developed feel set in the tropics.
There are a lot of tourists here at the campsite - a large place on the edge of the beach - full of four wheel drivers with all the campers/trailers kit money can buy - and all of it covered in a fine layer of red dust.
On our first visit to the beach we watched some locals driving their tinnie in with a large fish tail sticking out of it. I went over to see what it was and found they had speared a Dugong! Having never seen one in the flesh I had to ask what it was - my only experience with these animals so far
has been when we have been in waters where they are protected and I felt a little bad for it lying there with its large cow-like eyes blank. After a little search on internet we found that the indigenous people are allowed to kill these animals (and turtles) in a bid to maintain their traditional way of life as it was an important source of protein for them. This is allowed under certain regulations such as not in protected areas and must be done with a spear - in keeping with their traditions. I watched on as they pulled their large shiny traditional speedboat onto the trailer and drove away in their traditional Landcruiser.
So mostly we have been lazing around, stocking up for the next leg, checking the weather, and not swimming for fear of crocs. I was keen to visit Thursday Island for a day trip but at $116 each for the ferry we didn't bother... maybe we'll have cause to sail there one day.
Last night we went to the Wednesday market for which we had seen flyers and heard radio adverts. We went after a shower and Naomi had us
taken from Red Island
walk back to the dinghy to drop off her bag to avoid lugging it. We arrived at the market which was next to the art shop at the campsite - there were three stalls !
A boat with an english couple have anchored near us and I went over to say hello when I saw Lymington written on the hull. Looks like we will both be heading across the gulf tomorrow as the winds are dropping to a predicted max of 25 knots. Still a little windier than we would like for night sailing but time is marching on and hence we will probably skip Gove to save time and head straight for the Wessel Islands.
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