The sail through Albany Passage was in the end simple. It looked more challenging on the chart, but we have to remember the charts are very sparse up here, and only the main shipping channels have really good detail. The Passage was about two miles long and about a quarter of a mile wide, and very deep. We ran through it with the sails set for running dead downwind, and had expected a full flood tide to take us quickly through. The tide was against us at the start and went to little by the end, so who knows how the tide works up here, as none of our info, including the QLD tide tables appeared to match with what we saw!
At the end of the Passage, Eborac Island and York Island came into view, and gradually the Cape itself opened to us. We were unable to go through the gap between the Cape and the islands, so we went around, and dropped the anchor in the lee of York Island. De La Mer were already anchored in the bay, as they could get further in with their catamaran. We decided to have lunch later, and instead head ashore to the Cape, so it was a very quick launch of the Goon Bag, gather up the kids (Cloggau, Willi Whale, Cleo Clownfish and Spaghetti) and cameras, and jump in the dinghy! We swung by Barbara and Mike and they were also heading in, so we said we would see them there.
We chatted to some people who were camping just behind the beach in big 4WD rigs, when we landed the dinghy, then headed out on the well worn path to the Cape. Within about ten minutes, we arrived at a brass plaque, telling us we were at Cape York and giving distance and direction to any number of places. Sydney was nearly three thousand km away, the same distance as Adelaide! Darwin was just over a thousand kilometers, which made us pause for contemplation for a moment! We followed the path down to the actual point where water met land, and found the sign that told us we were actually at the most northerly point of land. Here we took pictures of the crew (Pete, me and the kids), admired the racing tide through the passage between the Cape and the two islands, and then we swam, in a small rock pool to cool down. Stupidly we had not brought water, so we were very hot and in need of a cool down. We walked back along the mangroves to the beach and the Goon Bag, by which time we were dry – the heat is overwhelming here, and it takes about two minutes to dry off from soaking wet!
We chatted again to the 4WD guy back at the beach, who was a keen fisherman and had come up to the Cape, camping with his family for two days, and ended up staying five weeks! Then Mike and Barbara came back from the Top, and we had a long chat before saying goodbye. They were staying here tonight, then heading to Thursday Island for a couple of days before hauling out at Weipa for Cyclone season. We were heading to Possession Island overnight, before going into Seisia for fuel, then heading across the Gulf. Back on board we weighed anchor, then motored the eight miles to Possession Island.
Such a momentous day required a celebration, and once we were comfortably anchored, we opened a bottle of Moët that we had saved to commemorate our milestone. Combined with our singalong playlist on the iPod, we had a small party, before cooking a fab Sri Lankan curry with the Spanish mackerel. This was also going to be dinner for our Gulf crossing!
After dinner we sat on deck contemplating the different stars in the sky, the complete darkness, other than the loom from TI, and the next phase of our adventure. It has been a revelation so far, with so much green on the land, which is not low, dry and featureless as I expected. The sun is fierce, and suddenly I welcome clouds and shade when I have always been a sun seeker. Whilst the sea is tempting, being salty and hot is horrible, so it’s better to have a shower on the back of the boat, and I am not missing swimming as much as I expected. It doesnt help when the sea temperature is about as warm as the air temperature!
In the morning we headed in to have a look at the monument commemorating Cooks landing on this Island, where he took possession of the East Coast of Australia for King George Third. Following in Cooks wake and footsteps makes me feel in awe of what he achieved, considering the accessories that we have today to make this easy, not least of which is having great weather forecasting. We were, however, sad to see the state of the beach, which had by far and away the worst plastic and other rubbish piled up along the waterline, of any beach we have yet seen. We need to stop the proliferating use and inappropriate disposal of plastic. some of the worst items are of course drink bottles and flip flops. Think before you buy these things – do you really need the bottle? Can you use one that you simply refill? And whilst thongs (footwear!) have become “high fashion”, how many pairs do you really need?
We will head to Seisia today, to get fuel and prepare for our Gulf Crossing. the weather looks ok for a Saturday departure at this time, but we will monitor it util we depart. We may not get to blog again until Darwin, but we will try to post on FB and Skipr.net if we can.