Mad Monkey - Mad Monkey Sailing Down-Under
Sailing around the Australian coastline has definitely been good fun and it's now clear to us why sailors gather from around the world to enjoy this eastern coast. Our trip from Vanuatu to Mackay was full of perfect sailing conditions, alternating between spinnaker and white sails to comfortably maintain boat speeds in the 10-knot range; we even broke our boat speed record and achieved 16.7knots with just white sails!
Working our way north, through the Whitsunday Islands, has shown to us how diverse Australia is and where we would like to bring Mad Monkey back to. Stopping off in Airlie Beach was a highlight, not only was it one of the nicest marinas we have stayed in for a while but the weekend we were visiting was also the annual Reef Festival weekend, so the town was buzzing with people and every night we were entertained by live singers, fireworks and street parades.
We knew Australia was home to some big whales but we weren't expecting to see them as frequently as we are! We have seen some great displays of big humpbacks jumping up and crashing down on their backs.
Due to a five day trip to Sydney, we need to be in Darwin about a week before the rest of the fleet, so we have had to jet north and round Cape York solo. The last couple of days has been a bit different but active and fast-paced at the same time (It reminds us of doing our usual trips across to France from our base in Hamble/England, crossing the busy English Channel shipping lanes). We planned our route from Lizard Island to Darwin and the first couple of days would be spend changing course to avoid reefs every hour, not to mention our route would be zig-zagging through the narrow and busy shipping lanes! We have been given constant winds between 25-30kts, frequently gusting 40kts and have been making good progress without a mainsail and only a second-reefed headsail. It keeps us on our toes when we are passing 300-meter tankers within 500 metres!
Hopefully by this tomorrow we will have made our way to the top of the peninsula and it is then the straight-line sail to Darwin; frustratingly the wind is forecasted to drop as we turn the corner and do the simple sailing, but it's all good fun!
Josh and the Monkeys