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15/01/2010 13:40:48

Stuart Hall<br>Unknown
Stuart Hall
Unknown

Posts: 4
I'm looking at sailing from Perth to Melbourne, the long way. I'm pretty comfortable with the Perth-Darwin stretch, but I'm worried about adverse winds from Darwin to Cape York and especially Cape York to Brisbane.Can anyone provide any advice on preferred weather window and whether diversion to Melanesia might assist with countering the SE Trades?
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22/03/2010 15:18:22

David Bowden<br>Australia
David Bowden
Australia

Posts: 9
Hi Stuart,

I have rounded cape York 5 times - 3 west bound and 2 east bound in the last few years. One east bound trip started from Darwin in mid October and we sailed all the way rather than day hop and anchor. We only stopped if the winds were above 25kts or we were getting no sailing wind. We were 22 days close hauled from Darwin to Cairns and had stops at Gove, Seisia and a night at Cape Flattery. The winds were 130 deg at 10-20 kts for most of the trip to Gove and we tacked to get the favoured angle. It was slow but steady work and we needed to become adjusted to a speed made good of 2-3 kts towards our destination. There was some 'sea breeze' effect most days which produced a more NE wind but it generally came back to its standard direction and speed. We deliberately kept the speed at about 6 kts to stop jumping into the waves (we are a 41ft cat) and creating splash and with wind and current against us, our tacks over the ground averaged 120 deg. The trip was comfortable but slow. The Trip across the Gulf was similar with one night of 20-25 kts. The trip down the east coast had simailar conditions but a more pronounced sea breeze effect each day (ie wind moved into the E more but came back to SE each night). We made long southerly tacks till we ran out of water near the coast then tacked out east through gaps in the reef till we could turn south and run down the shipping channel or parallel it. We motor sailed past the head lands to speed up this part of the passage. We got our first NE breeze just near Dunk Island and from there south it is a good run with NE breezes most afternoons.

The second east bound trip was from Bali almost direct to Gove then to Weipa (we had a gearbox problem), up to Seisia and down to Cairns. We motored for most of this passage and only put out a head sail when the angle allowed us - not often. Again the winds were SE at 15 or a bit more. In both cases we aimed to round Cape York by early Nov. We downloaded weather FAX each day and had HF weather reports also.

I think we had pretty good conditions and although on both trips there were small depressions developing near the Solomons, they did not develop fully but they did keep the wind more in the SSE rather than the SE-NE we hope to get. I still have the track plots of one trip if that is any help. I am presently in Thailand and would not be concerned to do this type return again as long as I was near Cape York in early Nov. Getting out of Darwin and pst Cape Don can be a challenge - get advice on how to use the tides properly - they rip past Cape Don

Cheers

Dave
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26/03/2010 16:06:02

Peter Sheppard<br>Australia
Peter Sheppard
Australia

Posts: 1
I did this trip in Sept 2009 on a power boat from Darwin to Cairns, stopping only once for a few hours at Lizard Island to top up some oil. This was a leg of our full circumnavigation East to West.
We had the SE trade at 30 -35 kts for the whole leg, and only got the wind off our nose a bit (10 deg) from Lizard to Cairns.
Interesting is the SE's tend to bend and come from due east across the Arafura, and it is reported to be the windiest and most consistent trade wind area in the world.
In a sailing boat you would have to tack of course which takes pressure off from the head seas. We has a course of 89 deg to TI and the wind was blowing from 90 deg.
You are going to have some fun in the narrow shipping channel, so good time to fire up the iron sail for this leg I'd reckon.
Good luck
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12/04/2010 02:40:16

Stuart Hall<br>Unknown
Stuart Hall
Unknown

Posts: 4
Thanks Dave and Peter, pretty much as I expected.




Any thoughts on heading up to Melanesia to improve sailing conditions. Say Darwin-Dili, pass north of PNG to the Solomons and then to Cairns. Time's not an issue and I reckon that would be an interesting trip.




Stuart






David Bowden
Australia
wrote:
Hi Stuart,

I have rounded cape York 5 times - 3 west bound and 2 east bound in the last few years. One east bound trip started from Darwin in mid October and we sailed all the way rather than day hop and anchor. We only stopped if the winds were above 25kts or we were getting no sailing wind. We were 22 days close hauled from Darwin to Cairns and had stops at Gove, Seisia and a night at Cape Flattery. The winds were 130 deg at 10-20 kts for most of the trip to Gove and we tacked to get the favoured angle. It was slow but steady work and we needed to become adjusted to a speed made good of 2-3 kts towards our destination. There was some 'sea breeze' effect most days which produced a more NE wind but it generally came back to its standard direction and speed. We deliberately kept the speed at about 6 kts to stop jumping into the waves (we are a 41ft cat) and creating splash and with wind and current against us, our tacks over the ground averaged 120 deg. The trip was comfortable but slow. The Trip across the Gulf was similar with one night of 20-25 kts. The trip down the east coast had simailar conditions but a more pronounced sea breeze effect each day (ie wind moved into the E more but came back to SE each night). We made long southerly tacks till we ran out of water near the coast then tacked out east through gaps in the reef till we could turn south and run down the shipping channel or parallel it. We motor sailed past the head lands to speed up this part of the passage. We got our first NE breeze just near Dunk Island and from there south it is a good run with NE breezes most afternoons.

The second east bound trip was from Bali almost direct to Gove then to Weipa (we had a gearbox problem), up to Seisia and down to Cairns. We motored for most of this passage and only put out a head sail when the angle allowed us - not often. Again the winds were SE at 15 or a bit more. In both cases we aimed to round Cape York by early Nov. We downloaded weather FAX each day and had HF weather reports also.

I think we had pretty good conditions and although on both trips there were small depressions developing near the Solomons, they did not develop fully but they did keep the wind more in the SSE rather than the SE-NE we hope to get. I still have the track plots of one trip if that is any help. I am presently in Thailand and would not be concerned to do this type return again as long as I was near Cape York in early Nov. Getting out of Darwin and pst Cape Don can be a challenge - get advice on how to use the tides properly - they rip past Cape Don

Cheers

Dave
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12/04/2010 15:08:23

David Bowden<br>Australia
David Bowden
Australia

Posts: 9
Interesting that you ask the question about heading over the top of PNG as that is what we are planning later this year. Currently we are in Thailand and will be sailing to the north tip of Borneo arriving August. We intend leaving there in early October and sailing north of the equator till we get past Bougainville Island the heading S/SW to pass through the Louisiades and on to Townsville to arrive before early Dec at the latest. It will be a continuous sailing trip as we are not too keen on stopping in PNG although I suspect the ouuter islands are OK. Depending on how we are travelling we may stop occasionally but will plan on one long trip. We have spent 2 months in the Louisiades so know that area. Cyclones are rare in early December but depressions can form near the Solomons.

The biggest challenge in heading east from Darwin is the emotional acceptance that it will be slow upwind trip. We were 22 days close hauled on our trip before we had a NE breeze near Dunk Is (just southy of Cairns) Travelling over the top of PNG is a much more challenging trip as it possibly involves, CAIT's for Indonesia, Visas, finding food and fuel and it wil be crossing the ITCZ. These are additional issues apart from the sheer lenghth of such a journey and it is off the beaten track. But that is not to say it cannot be done - just a very long ay to get to the east coast of Australia. Most folk who wish to visit the Solomons leave from QLD coast. I would sail east from Darwin rather the over the top of PNG if I had to choose. I would plan a separate voyage to the Solomons. Still it would make an interesting trip.

Cheers

Dave
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21/04/2010 07:49:34

Stuart Hall<br>Unknown
Stuart Hall
Unknown

Posts: 4
Thanks Dave, point well made. We're more into short sails and exploring interesting anchorages. I share your concerns about PNG. I might wait to see how you go!




Stuart
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21/04/2010 11:13:46

Sue Richards<br>United Kingdom
Sue Richards
United Kingdom

Posts: 46
Hi Stuart - reading this post, Dave Povis may be a good guy to contact about this route and PNG - see his noonsite post here:

http://www.noonsite.com/Members/sue/R2009-09-16-1

Seems to know what he's talking about and has good experience of cruising PNG.
edited by Sue Richards
United Kingdom on 21/04/2010
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22/04/2010 03:03:06

Stuart Hall<br>Unknown
Stuart Hall
Unknown

Posts: 4
Thanks Sue, I have seen that post, sounds great, but he's talking about southern PNG. The north sounds less explored.



Cheers




Stuart
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19/05/2010 13:35:31

David Bowden<br>Australia
David Bowden
Australia

Posts: 9
Hi Stuart,

I note in the latest Noonsite news of an armed attack in Blupblup Is 60nm NE of Wewak. The Captain's advice - stay away fom the mainland and nearer the outer islands. If possible we will avoid all PNG landfalls but the yacht in question encountered weather which forced them into a course change.

Dave
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13/06/2010 15:32:09

Jim Den Hartog<br>Netherlands
Jim Den Hartog
Netherlands

Posts: 9
Hi



I have followed the answers to your query with interest in part because I am so disappointed with the lack of usage of this forum. It could be so useful if more would write and comment! I also will post a question re heading across the Indian Ocean and hope to pleasantly surprised-------




But first re heading east from Darwin. We have no experience across the top of Australia in either direction and would not consider such a thing west to east particularly given lots of time but that is purely personal of course. We sail a junk-rigged boat and love the off the wind stuff.




When we headed towards SE Asia from NZ we opted for the route north of PNG as we thought that would be more interesting than visiting Australia and would avoid the Australian bureaucracy to boot! We did so and have not regretted it although we hasten to add that the mainland coast of PNG must be treated with caution.




We had a particularly wonderful time in the Hermit archipelago and also in New Britain and New Ireland and will never forget our experiences there. It is a wonderfully interesting area of the world. We did do an inland trip on the 'mainland' and kept our boat GAIA at a dive resort where she and we were perfectly safe.




However perhaps of more interest to you is the fact that at the right time of the year one can sail DOWNWIND to the Solomons from say Borneo! And thus from there easily and with much of interest to the Australian east coast.




We can of course not go into the details here but we would suggest looking at the weather conditions north of PNG in around December and would be happy to give you more details.




Jim and Helen sv GAIA
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29/01/2011 03:40:42

David Bowden<br>Australia
David Bowden
Australia

Posts: 9
This is an addition to my earlier comments in mid 2010 about sailing round the top of Australia west to east. It also addresses the subject of a return to the east coast of Australia from Malaysia and in particular Borneo. Initially I was planning to sail from the north tip of East Malaysia (Borneo) over the top of PNG and then to Townsville (East Coast of Australia) via the Louisiades. As it turned out a number of yachts did return to Australia over the top of PNG leaving Borneo (Sandakan area) starting about mid to late August 2010. I also tracked several other yachts returning via the same route starting much earlier eg May 2010. In summary they all had terrible trips with headwinds and currents against them such that SOG was regularly less than 3 kts. After reaching the eastern areas of PNG they did start to get a sailing angle on the wind but prior to that it was all just motoring directly into the conditions which at times were noted as appalling and little or no sleep for crews for up to several days. 2010 may well have been a bad year but I have decided against that route based on their emails and experiences.

In late September 2010 I offered to sail a sick colleague's catamaran from Kota Kinabalu to Mooloolaba Australia starting 20 October and arriving 7 weeks later on 8 December. My yacht is still in Borneo. I can provide a more detailed summary of this trip conditions if required but the following indicate it was a dream run compared to the other route over the top of PNG. The trip took a total of 7 weeks, 3700 nm, 98 % motor sailing till passing Cape York where the SE trades started to appear, mostly calm waters with light winds through Indonesia, generally fine weather with a few night squalls till down the QLD coast and in all generally most enjoyable. Our sailing philosophy was to keep moving (we had 4 people aboard to share the night watches) as long as conditions allowed eg we would seek anchorage if winds against exceeded 25kts or conditions were bad. We actually were anchored for 31 nights on this trip either at refuelling stops, doing a spot of sight seeing or for weather holds. The route was from Kota Kinabalu with day hopping round the north tip of Borneo clearing out of Malaysia at Sandakan then south for a bit then east across the Clelebes Sea to Bitung on the north tip of Sulawesi then SE passing Ambon to the islands of Banda, Taninbars (Saumlaki), entering Australia at Gove then across the Gulf of Carpentaria passing Cape York and down the east coast of QLD. The wind and weather conditions down the QLD coast were the most uncomfortable of the whole trip but this is always to be expected as the SE Trades are likely to still be present in early December. I have heard of colleagues who had spinnaker runs down the QLD coast or at least beam sailing conditions if you can wait for a window. Our aim was to be south before the cyclone season. We had no security concerns, saw few other yachts, bought diesel fuel at service stations to ensure good quality, had almost flat seas through all Indonesia, were fortunate with the Australian weather patterns as there was no high pressure in the Australian Bight which normally generates the strong SE trades across northern Australia. Our biggest concern was large metal mooring buoys tethered in over 4000m depths scattered across the Celebes Sea. They seem to be used by trawlers and other fishing boats as temporary anchorage places and from which they burly for fish. The current here was at times almost 2 kts setting west. We maintained a good watch and used radar at night to detect them.

I anticipate I will return to Australia via this route in late 2011. I have attached a Word summary file containing a few more observations.

Dave Bowden

Attachments:
SAILING SUMMARY.doc
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29/01/2011 09:53:43

Jim Den Hartog<br>Netherlands
Jim Den Hartog
Netherlands

Posts: 9
Interesting comments on the issue of sailing from west to east to get to the east coast of Australia. In an earlier reply I mentioned going from east to west around the top of PNG. On that trip made late in the year we encountered head winds. We met people sailing from Pulau and or the Philippines to Australia/New Zealand along that route via the Solomons and they certainly had better conditions than we did.

I believe the weather window for doing that is relatively short starting in about December. It is certainly nor surprising that people who tried this route in May or August had a difficult time. It would be nice if someone would reply who has sailed in the right season (Dec to and incl Feb or Mar?)from the Philippines or the north of Borneo to the Solomons

We are now in Langkawi but still think back on our trip through the Solomons and the north of PNG with longing and as always a wish we had stayed longer.

Jim and Helen sv GAIA
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