Voyages on Baringo 111 September 10th – 13th October 2022

The day after our arrival we visited the Cannes yachting festival show and successfully resisted the temptation to buy a new boat. It is an enormous show on the waterfront in Cannes needing a small boat ride to see the whole show. It was an excellent start to our sailing trip.

We set sail to Baie de la Garonne across the Grande Rade de Touloon onTuesday after the usual preparations and had a rather stormy night there and returned the next day to meet Henry ,Claudia, Jamie, Robyn and Siri. They had rented a flat in La Seyne-sur-Mer close to the perfect Les Sablettes beach because day sailing with nights ashore seemed more suitable for Jamie and Robyn. We spent a very enjoyable few days on the beach where small children find endless fun exploring, building and rebuilding sand castles of which they never seem to tire. By Sunday 18th we decided to  sail again to Baie de la Garonne for lunch and it proved an enjoyable  first experience on the  water for Jamie and Robyn. Unfortunately the weather became very windy for the next few days so we enjoyed the beach and some local restaurants. We made another attempt to sail a few days later but the wind proved too strong once outside the harbour wall with too much heeling for comfort while holding baby Robyn  and trying to keep Jamie in board ! Too soon the holiday was over but maybe it was the start of a sailing career for someone ….who knows !

It was now time for us to sail to Nice to meet Sam and Gillie McBride sailing friends ex Hong Kong now in Edinburgh. Our first anchorage was in Baie D’Alicatre on the north side of Porquerolles where we stayed for two nights because of stormy conditions but on Sunday 25th September we sailed to Rade D’Agay and picked up a mooring. The swell was quite significant, a result of the previous two days of storms and there was little protection from it on the moorings available for our size of boat at the sea end of the bay.The next day we sailed on to the marina in Baie des Anges near Nice but not under the very busy airport. It is easy to see from because of the unusual shapes of large blocks of flats on the shore. It is a pleasant marina which we had visited the year before with a local street with shops and restaurants as you step off the boat. Sam and Gillie arrived and we had a busy evening catching up. We had planned to leave the next day but ended up marina bound by a strong mistral so we explored Nice until Friday when the wind  settled enough to escape. The wind picked up over the course of the journey to Baie de Canabiers near St Tropez where we wanted to see the famous classic boat race les Voiles de St Tropez. Indeed we had a close up view when we sailed through the fleet to our anchorage. The wind continued strongly and we dragged our anchor just before dark when we realised we were closer to a large motor yacht, but this was not a serious problem and it was during daylight. Saturday 1st October was extremely windy so there was no possibility of going ashore and during the course of the day three boats required the rescue services as they were drifting and had no motors. We all hoped that we would not be the next boat to call may day. In addition to the race this all made interesting viewing. The night brought no reduction in the wind strength  and after the usual cocktails and supper we were woken by call and whistles from a yacht which had become much closer than before … we were drifting  again and had to re-anchor with some speed but this time in the dark and in 35 knots of wind. We felt very pleased that Sam and Gilly were on board and their help was invaluable. We found another spot but this was not the end as the same problem recurred again twice before dawn but by this time we were becoming accustomed to the manoeuvre. We all enjoyed watching the race the next  day, wonderfully  elegant  yachts sailing by in large numbers a truly magnificent sight.

Approaching St Tropez
St Tropez: Superyacht anchored nearby to us

The next stop was Les Porquerolles where we stayed for a quiet two nights and had an excellent meal and on 5th October we returned to Saint Mandrier to say good bye to Sam and Gilly. We had a few days left to ourselves so decided to go westwards to Bandol . Then one of the usual technical problems which arise on boats occurred …a blocked holding tank. Once day had dawned we went far out to sea to try and unblock it which we did with the hose pipe through the deck access normally for sucking out the holding tanks in port. Then we proceeded to Sanary-sur-Mer which we had visited before the previous year. It is a delightful town and quite unspoilt.   After our sojourn there we then ventured a  little further  westward and found a peaceful anchorage off the long beach of Saint Cyr-sur-Mer  in the Baie de Lecques. We found  an excellent promenade there to stretch our legs and it was just warm enough to swim. On 13th October it was time to return to Saint Mandrier so we set off early to avoid the forecast strong easterly afternoon breeze. Our plans were thwarted by a visit from the navy who were doing firing practice off the headland! We had no choice but to anchor off Les Sablettes beach and wait until we had permission to proceed by which time of course the headwind had  arrived as forecast . Despite this we arrived safely and tied up leaving Baringo in the care of Dream Yachts for the winter.

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Voyages on Baringo III July 3rd – 23rd July 2022

Baringo is now berthed at Port Pin Rolland ,Saint Mandrier-sur-Mer under the care of Dream Yacht Charters.

Our first sail this year was marred by our car breaking down trying to return to London from Saint Mandrier to attend the launch of Henry’s second book “ Voltrush “ . We left the car in a garage for repairs in the middle of France near Troyes and returned to Baringo by train to meet Vanessa, Antony and Edward for their sailing holiday, Edward’s first. They arrived in Marseilles and stayed the first two nights in the local hotel the Rive D’Or and luxuriated on the beautiful beach Les Sablettes for the first day . On tuesday we  sailed to Baie de Meljean about one hour across the Petit Rade de Toulon and anchored for the night. Edward was delighted with his cabin and promptly made it his den and the boat his playground. We all swam in the delightfully clear warm water and used the paddle board in all its functions.

The next morning we sailed to Les Porquerolles a group of beautiful island just off the coast which are a natural reserve and wonderfully well preserved despite the many tourists who come by ferry from Toulon. We were able to stay at anchor after Antony made the brilliant suggestion of using the paddle board pump to inflate the dinghy. The usual pump which we had in fact exchanged for one we thought would work failed miserably and  faced with a very soft soggy dingy our spirits fell thinking we could not get ashore. The paddle pump fitted  perfectly and the day was saved. We had a wonderful time swimming and paddling and using the paddle with its  kayak fitting as well. We cycled around the island first with Edward in a small trailer and the next day with him in a seat. The drivers both opted for electric bikes for this! The paths are quite deserted once off the beaten track leading through vineyards and forests but usually finishing after a hot ride on one of the many beautiful beaches on the island.

We left early on Saturday  16th as a strong wind was predicted later in the day but we managed a lunch stop at Baie de Meljean and by the time that was over the wind did not materialise so we motored back to Saint Mandrier. The last day was spent on the beach again and Vanessa Antony and Edward departed for Marseilles in a rather glamorous taxi for their flight home on sunday 17th July.

We had a few days left of our charter so decided to sail westward and visited Sanary-sur-Mer which was a delightful old fashioned town where Aldous Huxley had spent his later years .We then ventured a little further to Bandol but could not anchor close enough to get ashore but it was a pleasant anchorage and not too crowded. We had a visit from the local eco warriors which was an encouraging sign. We returned to Port Pin Rolland on 22nd July.

Sanary Sur Mer
Sanary sur Mer at night.

Our car was still in Troyes and we had agreed with the insurance that it was easier for us to hire a car one way with all our sailing kit, collect our  car then drive directly back to Chamonix . We collected the car after 3000 euros of repairs, unloaded the hire car, loaded our own car, returned the hire car and set off  for Chamonix. Two hours later the same engine problem occurred again, the car would not accelerate so we had to be towed off the autoroute for the second time in as many weeks and this time into a garage in the middle of nowhere on one of the busiest Saturday afternoons of the holiday season!  The only way out of there was a super fast taxi to Le Tour! The car was again moved to a Subaru garage later where they discovered that a critical air pipe had not been tightened. 

So for a sailing trip there were rather more problems on the road rather than the sea!

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The Inaugural Voyage on Baringo III October 2020

Covid 19 upset our spring sailing plans this year but by October there was an inter lockdown opportunity for us to get afloat. We drove from Chamonix to Saint Mandrier-sur-Mer about six hours and slept on board in the marina on 3rd October. We needed to do the usual checks and provisioning so decided to depart on Monday 5th October. However we woke to a fierce wind from the north west which made leaving the marina, where we were very tightly wedged in stern -to Mediterranean style, rather uninviting. After all we are used to empty bays not full marinas. After much soul searching we decided to wait until Tuesday to depart.

The day dawned fair and windless so we left with ease but even so the spatial constraints of the other boats around us required an exit in reverse but we entered  the bay unscathed and were on our way to lunch in Anse du Rabat which we had to ourselves. In the afternoon we headed toward Les Porquerolles the well renowned group of islands  in the Mediterranean but until today unknown to us. We had booked the marina there as the wind was forecast to be strong again but as we approached we saw a few boats anchored in a beautiful bay, sheltered from the forecast strong wind, so we joined them and tested the anchoring mechanism for the first time .The windlass worked perfectly and the anchor a Kobra (spade type) which we have not used before fell to the sandy bottom through crystal clear water. We had bought our snubbers of which we are so fond although they are rarely used as far as we could see in the Mediterranean, but old habits die hard.

We successfully sat out the next day on 40 knots so it was a good test and we did not drag. We discovered that we could not get the outboard off its stand so it was paddling ashore the next morning when the wind had died. The Baie de Pont Renard is fringed by the Plage d’Argent which is not mis-named  as the long beach is of fine silver sand. We found the island more than lived up to our expectations, no high-rise buildings, no private cars, spotlessly clean and lots of bicycles to hire and a small chandlery as well. We planned with eager anticipation to explore more the following day. We had resumed the Baringo cocktail tradition with consummate ease and enjoyed the sunset as usual that evening eagerly contemplating our exploration the next day. We rose with enthusiasm but it may have been an excess of this that caused John to fall into the water fully clad while getting into the dinghy. This proved to be the end of a perfectly planned day but gave us literally the push we needed to swim in the cold water which we continued to do for the rest of the trip. It was wonderfully refreshing and exhilarating and once out of the what to us seemed like ice water the sun was warm enough to dry comfortably.

The weather forecast was again  strong winds for the next two days and without a usable outboard we would not be able to get ashore so we decided rather than wait at anchor we would go into the marina to be able to explore the island. There was plenty of space in the morning but over the course of the day because of the weather all the spaces disappeared. The first day we oriented ourselves and checked the chandlery, local cafes and shops. After using ablution facilities I returned to Baringo to find John bailing  out an under floor compartment  next to the heads which was full of water!  This was rather alarming at first sight and we had certainly been carrying a lot of extra weight but we soon deduced that it was a leak from the shower pump which we proved easily after taking a shower! Luckily there are two heads on board. We hired bicycles and explored on the quite rough and sometimes steep tracks that go around and across the island. Initially we thought we must be very unfit as several cyclists seemed to pass us with ease on the slopes until we saw their electric motors! The bays are a delight and quite empty despite the numbers of cyclists on the tracks. We passed the vineyards and farms and enjoyed the amazing sea views. We stopped in the main square for a delicious cake at teatime feeling justified after our day cycling. We decided to have supper out that evening and just as that thought sprang to mind we noticed a pleasant looking restaurant in the square so without further delay we booked. It was Sunday evening so we were not sure how many others would be open. We enjoyed an excellent meal but discovered at the end that it must have been the most expensive restaurant in Les Porquerolles !

At anchor off Plage d’Agent
View from the beach
View from top near the fort with masts of the boats in the marina.
Plage Notre Dame, Porquerolles

The next day we sailed a little further east to Ile de Port-Cros another Porquerolle but with very few inhabitants and no cars. We anchored in Port Man another sheltered picturesque anchorage and that evening we christened Baringo with a bottle of red wine spilt over the bow and paid homage  to Poseiden /Neptune to ensure trouble free sailing . We enjoyed hiking and swimming and the usual sport of watching boats entering and leaving the bay anchoring and positioning themselves.

Port Man bay viewed from top of the island.

On October 14th we moved north to Baie de Cavaliere  on the mainland, a huge bay which we had to ourselves .The golden sandy beach ran the length of it and was almost deserted .Luckily a few bars and cafes and the supermarket were open so we did not run short of anything. We walked to Pramousquier along the coast on the old coast road which has been turned  into a  rather  good cycle path as well as a route avoiding the cars for pedestrians .We were in search of the Hotel Beau Site which I had visited as a medical student to visit  two school friends who were working there . I had driven overnight with two friends using D roads which was quite a marathon but we arrived safely. We were delighted to find the Hotel still functioning although closed. We took a break from our return hike and enjoyed a delicious pizza accompanied by excellent local wine.

The next day was a first for us as we anchored off a small nudist beach at the western extreme of the bay. I hid the binoculars in case John succumbed to temptation but in October it was hardly crowded. Later in the afternoon we moved to Anse de Gau slightly further south around the bay in an attempt to find less swell but this did not prove to be the case. However remembering some of the anchorages we had used during the circumnavigation we could not complain. We returned to the marina in Saint Mandrier on Sunday 18th October luckily in calm conditions as reversing in is the method of choice. We felt it had been an enjoyable inaugural voyage and our confidence in the boat had increased with better acquaintance and we felt happy we had made the right decision in getting afloat again.

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A new Baringo

We were very sad to sell Baringo but glad she had gone to good owners who are experienced sailors. We returned to Europe/UK and found being without a boat unusual and we succumbed to the boat-less syndrome and in November 2019 we bought a 10 year old Dufour 405 for sailing around the Med. It is an attractive looking boat and we hope to have some good sailing with her in the future. Currently the new Baringo is on the “hard” at St-Mandrier-sur-Mer in the south of France. We are having several jobs done such as new rigging and some minor repairs and hope to launch in April 2020.  We will continue our blog intermittently with information about our trips in the Med.


The new Baringo (with boom on the deck ready for winter ashore).

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Singapore to Langkawi November 2018

Andrew and Jila had arrived in Singapore to sail this last passage with us up the Malacca Staits to Langkawi where we planned to sell Baringo. We enjoyed a few days sightseeing in Singapore the highlight of which was the laser light show from the top of the Casino building, it felt like being in outer space so high and so many lights.

We left the bright lights on 18th November after the usual Western anchorage document hand over and we planned to repeat the first journey we had done in 2002 stopping in the same places. Our first impression was that the coast was much more built up and industrialised and this remained all the way up the coast to Langkawi, evidence indeed of the booming Malaysian economy we had read about. We anchored the first night at Pilau Pisang on the north side as there was a SW wind, a squall blew up but no lightning this time. Water Islands were next and we had a squall during the night again which never makes for a good sleep. Then to Admiral’s Marina, passing a now very industrialised coast through a plastic laden sea. The marina had not changed very much since our last visit in 2003 but there was a rally passing through so we had to content ourselves with a berth without electricity so we had to run the generator to have the air -conditioner. Check in at Port Dickson was much as before on our previous trip. We took a trip to Melaka by car which we had not done last time although we had been there with the children in 1984. Of course, there were many more tourists this this time but the elegant unusual pink Dutch buildings were still there.

While we did the check-out Andrew had perused the guide book during a rain storm and suggested we go to Royal Selangor Yacht Club and take a train to Kuala Lumpur to see the new Islamic museum there. We had only anchored off last time so this was something new and we went up the river delta to the Royal Selangor Yacht Club passing rows of dockside cranes belonging to a huge container port. The water in the  yacht club was so dirty, the water was scarcely visible underneath a thick layer of plastic and rubbish. The tide was running fast so getting alongside was not easy. However, we were rewarded the next day with the interesting train ride to Kuala Lumpur and the beautiful Islamic Museum. Not sorry to leave the Yacht Club we continued to Pilau Pangkor and this time had  to navigate a new lighted path into our old anchorage in the dark but we make it safely. Once again we all wanted to do the motor bike ride we had so enjoyed last time and luckily Pilau Pangkor was still pleasantly unchanged and unsophisticated but we did find a rather beautiful new mosque built out on stilts over the sea.

The wind had not been very favourable so far so we were not sailing as much as we had expected, the NE monsoon did not seem to be well established here yet. We needed an overnight passage to arrive in Penang in daylight and this was uneventful apart from the lightning and we decided on a dawn anchorage off the NW of the island and enjoyed a rather spectacular dawn and before going around to the marina. There had been no marinas here in 2003  so we were pleased to avoid the difficult anchoring we had experienced here before and just tie alongside a pontoon although the entry had to made through a dredged channel at high tide.  But despite these problems it made our stay in Penang much easier. We hired a car and visited the Penang Funicular railway up to the peak but it was very crowded so we then circumnavigated the island finding the temples and villages of interest with Andrew and Jila’s guide book. The evening storm came with a vengeance as we were driving over the hills by now looking for a  restaurant for supper. The guide book had a few recommendations of wonderful sea food meals in local villages but each one we found proved gloomy and empty, no sign of welcoming sea food eateries obvious. It was dark, raining and we were hungry but when we stopped for Andrew to top up his SIM card we were under a sign for Tiger beer outside a restaurant and by now desperate we went in and had not only several cold tigers but a superb meal including grilled whole fish, all very tasty, one of the best dinners we had but no thanks to the guide book!

Pilau Bunting was the next anchorage and this was rather curious; we were sure there would be a resort there but all we found was a deserted island with a very glossy bridge connecting it to the mainland the reason for which was not immediately obvious. We later discovered it had been built for a power station which had never happened. On 2nd December it was the final journey to Langkawi and into Rebak marina……. this was our last passage on Baringo. Andrew and Jila stayed in the marina resort and then kindly  organised the celebration of our safe arrival with Moet in the gazebo on the end of the breakwater at the resort over looking the sea.

Baringo was sold in March 2019 to Andrew and Kylie who will I hope take her on another adventure, after all that is what she loves.

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Nongsa Point to Keppel Marina Singapore 12th November 2018: the final leg of our circumnavigation.

We left Nongsa Point on Monday 12th for the final journey of our circumnavigation. The morning was fine weather, no rain squalls in sight and we were away by 10.00 with all documents in order. We motor sailed west along the industrialised north coast of Batam  through very dirty water and a small oil slick until we reached the crossing channel through the Singapore Strait to the north side . The channel is extremely busy but the traffic separation scheme puts some order into the busyness and we made it across easily into the western anchorage which we remembered well from our arrival in 2010 . We anchored and the police boat arrived immediately followed by immigration but we managed lunch in between the visits and documents were exchanged by hand, no fishing net this time. We then headed towards Keppel Marina for our ETA of 15.00 and were helped into our berth by the staff and felt we had now really completed our circumnavigation arriving 8 years almost to the day after we had arrived here in 2010 . We felt a strange mixture of a sense of achievement and unreality mixed with relief and then what is the next adventure, knowing that any could only be a poor second to this one.

Singapore in the haze.

A big thank you to our many friends and family who have contributed to this adventure and made it happen and be such fun, and to all those who have followed Baringo’s Blog .

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Lombok to Nongsa Point 28.10.2018 – 07.11.2018

It was difficult to leave Medana Marina but we felt the need to press on although we had actually forgotten that our Indonesian visas were only for 30 days and when we did finally leave we had no days to spare! However the relaxing atmosphere in Medana had successfully removed these dull administrative matters from our minds so we were lucky to have summoned the will power to move on when we did!

No sooner was Baringo out of the bay she was in a 30knot breeze with accompanying waves so we were too late to hoist the mainsail. We managed well with the little jenny close hauled until the wind veered to north west and then south east and the sailing became more comfortable off the wind. By the morning of the next day 29th October we were approaching P.Kangean where there was a gap to sail through and although not that narrow the sea was so confused with waves coming from all angles and no wind to hold the sails with the motor. We consulted the Dashew Bible but even he did not have a good answer to improving this unpleasantness only an amusing few words to describe it! Fortunately once through the gap the waves settled and by midday the sea had settled and we stopped for the daily oil check, essential with long motoring hours we were doing .In the calm of that afternoon we hoisted the mainsail and dispensed with the flapping jennies. We passed Madura island and its fishing fleet that evening and as we are in the Archipelagic Sea lane there little time goes by without a large tanker or bulk carrier passing. The Indonesian fishing fleets is enormous, we have never seen so many fishing boats anywhere else the numbers certainly do not seem sustainable. On the afternoon of the following day we were treated to a NE wind and had a lovely sail which continued until the early hours of the next morning. We had Kalimantan on our port side but we were further offshore now so fewer fishing boats that night. Stephen Davies advised keeping slightly east closer to the Kalimantan Coast to avoid unmarked hazards to the west and he recommended two “gates “ between shoals and reefs to pass through for a safe passage so we followed this path and had no problems.

Indonesian fishing boat

Island ahead?

island on tow!

We were passing between P.Belitung and Kalimantan keeping closer to Kalimantan and there is a line of reefs and shoals extending eastward off Belitung where again there was large fleet of fishing vessels. Actually passing through them was not as difficult as we had anticipated as they moved out of our way once they had seen us and all we saw were lit ,some scantily though. We had the usual mixture of sailing and motoring, probably more of the latter so refuelling was becoming imminent and we decided that doing this in the Archipelagic Sea lane was foolish and made a course for P.Serutu to anchor and do the refuelling in peace and out of danger. November was ushered in with a serious lightning storm  in the evening after a very sultry day so it came as no surprise but luckily neither wind or rain was that difficult and we escaped a direct hit.

On the morning of 2nd November we reached P.Serutu near P.Karimata just west of Kalimantan and anchored in a very pleasant bay but initially we had a NW wind blowing straight into the bay putting us squarely on a lee shore  but luckily this changed as the morning progressed to SE and the anchorage became well protected. We had a restful day and completed the always unpleasant job of refuelling ,the diesel always seems to get where it is not wanted so the cleaning up afterwards is messy. We had decided to stop at two more anchorages en route to ensure arriving in Nongsa Point in daylight so the remaining journey did not seem too much of a marathon.

refueling at P. Serutu

rock in serutu bay only apparent at low tide.

Leaving P. Serutu

We had a quiet night at P.Serutu and departed at 05.45 on Saturday 3rd November and were rather surprised to see two unpleasant looking rocks further in which had not been visible at high tide when we arrived but luckily we had anchored further out although in our searching for the best spot on arrival we may not have been that far away. We continued NW with the usual mixture of sailing  when the wind allowed and motoring when it did not ,we had more night time lightening but no major squalls and at 00.15 on Monday 5th November we  crossed the equator and put our party hats on and toasted King Neptune with a beer. Only a couple of hours later we felt our toast had been wasted as a huge black squall confronted us and we turned tail to the SW to avoid it which we did. Once it had passed we headed towards P.Mesanak which luckily had an anchorage sheltered form the NW winds which were now with us most of the time .It was a large bay with a well marked entrance and as usual we had it to ourselves.

Toasting King Neptune

Toasting King Neptune

equatorial crossing

position on the equator

approaching squall

We had bought Indonesian Sim cards in Saumlaki and were delighted to see a mobile phone mast on the island so had high hopes of getting 3G but we could not and were not sure why .We learnt later that an Indonesian Sim card to work it needs an Indonesian ID card number,so ours were doomed from the start but luckily had not cost a large amount of money . This apart the anchorage was very calm and peaceful so a chance to prepare the boat for Jane Houng’s arrival in Nongsa Point and catch up on some sleep.

We had a choice for the next anchorage; another island bay but open to the NW or in an estuary north of Tanjung Pinang, Bintan Island in a small port but protected from the NW. We decided on the latter as the wind seemed to be predominantly for the NW now so set off early the next morning for Tanjung Pinang and arrived at the entrance to the port which is up a narrow and shallow channel early in the afternoon. All the marks were present and gingerly made our way to the anchorage spot while being overtaken by high speed ferries on all sides. It was a very busy port with vessels of all shapes and sizes crossing the estuary as there was no bridge between the two sides of the town. The water was full of garbage including lots of worrying plastic bags but we felt we had made the right choice as the NW wind blew quite strongly all night.

Tanjong Penang harbour

Tanjong Pinang kelong

smarter area of town

On Wednesday 7th November we made our way out again luckily avoiding any encounter with plastic bags and headed for Nongsa Point through the Selat Riau with Heavy industry was on both sides and lots of commercial shipping on the move or at anchor, all the way to Nongsa Point as well as numerous ferries dashing past. We had seen on the chart and read in the cruising guide that we might have 5kts of current against us here and the Selat  is relatively narrow but I think Neptune took pity on us now and we had an easy journey with the current helping us all the way ! At midday John sighted the sky scrapers and casino of Singapore, rather an exciting moment for us although we were not counting our chickens just yet .We rounded the North eastern point of Batam island and then approached the entrance to the marina which runs parallel to the Singapore ferry entrance so it is vital to pick the correct channel . Luckily we did and the staff were there to greet us and take our lines so we were tied up by 14.00 on Wednesday 7th November .

We sorted out the usual documentation and then had a welcome swim in the pool. We had actually swum very little on this trip as Australia had killer jelly fish and crocodiles and we had not felt inclined in the anchorages after the snakes’ appearance in the cockpit and the dirty water we had seen everywhere. The marina was part of a golf hotel complex but was not crowded and the restaurant was very good or maybe it was the monotony of boat food that made their meals taste so good ! We needed to provision so hired a driver to go to the Kepri shopping mall,about 45 minutes drive away , where there was  large Carrefour and we bought oil to service the engine from a garage on the way back. Jane was arriving the next day so we serviced the engine the next morning while a large rain squall passed by outside .Luckily all had cleared for jane’s arrival and we had a fine evening swim and a good meal in the restaurant. The next few days passed relaxing by the pool, reading and eating and  chatting . We had to fill up with diesel but decided to just get 110litres in jerry cans rather than go round to the fuel dock ,this would be quite enough to get the 15 nm to Singapore .

Nongsa point marina

nongsa point pool

and the bar overlooking the pool

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Thursday Island to Lombok 8th October to 24th October 2018

Malcolm and Glynis of Pacific Crossing fame had kindly agreed to give us a weather forecast for this voyage as we have lost our French meteo man so we felt very reassured by this and better prepared for the forthcoming voyage .

On the morning of our departure we waited for a very pleasant Torres islander to come and check the fridge , he found nothing wrong so we were relieved but still continued to use the other fridge for the journey but we had a back- up if needed. We weighed anchor at 11.30 with a strong tide running against us as well as a strong wind, very typical Torres Strait conditions .Once round the reef between Horn Island and Thursday island we headed out past Thursday island  doing 11kts over the ground through the Normanby Passage to the Arafura sea . We passed the final departure gate between two lights at 14.00 and we were on our way to Indonesia .

Leaving Thursday island

Wind vanes on TI- good idea as it never stops blowing.

Across the Arafura Sea

We had an excellent start with a pleasant easterly wind across a flat turquoise sea. The sea built up a little as we got further out and we had to jibe our way along to keep on course but this was easy as we only had the big jib and no mainsail. The sunsets were wonderful as were the dawn, such as are only seen at sea so we really appreciated their beauty as they may be amongst the last we will enjoy.

sunset at sea

sunset a little later

Jib only downwind sailing

tattered OCC flag blasted by the Trade winds

We had no moon initially but wonderful starry night skies and we managed the usual watch system uninterrupted by crises. We had a visit from dolphins , always a great pleasure, and we continued our way west jibing to make the best course . The wind began to die by13th October and we had to start to make calculations about speed to arrive in Saumlaki in the Tanimbar Islands in daylight .This was our chosen port of entry into Indonesia, we had submitted numerous forms before departure which we hoped would speed up the process but as we discovered this was in vain .We also had the added problem of not wanting to stay in Saumlakia for the weekend waiting for the offices to open on Monday. Although Indonesia is a Muslim country the office hours are the usual western ones,so we decided to spend Saturday 13th October resting at sea floating along at about 2kts with just the little jenny out .It was a very relaxing day but there was a certain amount of sail flapping so much so that the shackle on the foot of the little jenny shook off and had to be replaced. On Sunday at 03.15 we started the motor as the wind did not appear and we needed to reach Saumlaki by dawn which we did and were happy we had not made a dark approach as once in the bay there were several substantial fish aggregating devices (FADs) almost certainly unlit. We were looking for the anchorage recommended in the pilot book but we discovered that the charts are inaccurate and  while searching for the recommended anchoring spot and simultaneously avoiding a small vessel we ran aground ! Luckily the motor came to the rescue again and we anchored in 17m further out!

Fish aggregating device (FAD) on entry into Saumlaki. Not a place to do a night entry!

Saumlaki waterfront

updated version of a traditional Indonesian craft, a Bugis Pinesi with typical gaff rig.

We spent the rest of the day refuelling so we could replenish the empty jerry cans with diesel for the next leg and trying to assess where to go ashore. The recommended spot was at the Hotel Harapan Indah but we could not see it easily from the boat with the binoculars .However our problems were solved when we had a visit from Higi who said he would help us the next day with processing our papers and getting diesel and provisions; we were to meet him at the ferry pier at 09.00 the following morning Monday 15th October .

We arrived on time for the meeting armed with all our documents and our boat stamp which had languished in the nav.table for the last 5 years but we thought might be useful here .We could not really see a suitable place to land the dinghy so we sheltered under the ferry pier as it was already quite hot and then we saw the friendly wave from  Higi’s friend who showed us where to land ; on  an unwelcoming  pile of rocks up a wall to the road to the ferry! I had doubts about getting up and even more doubts about getting heavy diesel filled jerry cans down but there was no choice .We were guided to the Quarantine office about 10 minutes walk away and the scruffiness and untidiness of the town really shocked us after the cleanliness of Australia . We spent 4 hours in the quarantine office while various officials tapped on the computer and shuffled paper. There was no air conditioning or fan so it became quite warm for everyone. The  immigration officers arrived with their computer in a neat black box and copious pieces of paper were produced, it was then  that boat stamp really came into its own as every piece required the Baringo stamp!  Higi had already arrived in the office and he came with two officials to inspect the boat where there was more form filling but all done with good grace thankfully and more surprisingly without any money changing hands.  Higi then took us to get mobile phone Sim cards and then for a much needed lunch and cold beer. He then organised a friend with a car to try and get some diesel but it seemed the garage was reluctant to sell it into jerry cans but Higi promised to fix it the following morning through his uncle. We had a little tour of the south part of the island including a visit to the rather bizarre sculpture of the first baptism in Saumlaki .Obviously successful as it remains a predominatly christian island .

Curious baptism sculpture

We finished with a little shopping in the market which was quite squalid with broken glass on the floor and children running around barefoot. Australia seemed like another planet. It was a hot and frustrating day but Higi was very kind and helpful especially with the endless zeros of the Indonesian rupiah which take a little getting used to and made all the difference . We finally got back to the boat and Higi promised to deliver the diesel for us tomorrow morning at the ferry pier at 09.00.

The next morning the diesel  was there waiting for us but 25 litres short, Higi had been unable to buy all we wanted but still 85Litre was better than nothing . After negotiating the rocky slope with the jerry cans maybe just as well we only had one full 25litre  one ,we left them  in the dinghy as we had also been told by immigration that we had to check out of Saumlaki before we left . We were not expecting this and another stint in the office was certainly not appealing.

So the day started with another interminable wait in the office but I asked Higi to take me shopping while John stayed in the office oven but at least today he had the phone to entertain him. That saved a little time although the paperwork was not complete when I got back . Just as we thought we had finished Higi said we had to go to the harbour master’s office, our hearts sank but luckily this visit was quite quick and again no exchange of money .Finally back on board we loaded the outboard, hoisted the dinghy, which we are keeping on the foredeck, and finally weighed anchor at 13.00 .on Tuesday16th October .


Saumlaki to Lombok 16th October – 24thOctober 2018

We were pleased to be on our way again but the Saumlaki sojourn had certainly been enhanced by Higi’s help .The first two days into the Banda Sea were motor sailing , there was  no wind as we passed the islands of Babar ,Sermata and then the channel south of Wetar and North of East Timor. The islands are very high and mountainous and usually there were the lights of villages visible at night but we kept offshore to avoid fishing vessels and FADs .With so much motoring we stopped every morning to check the engine oil and gave the instruments and Poppy the autohelm a rest .One evening the instruments went haywire as did Poppy and we wondered if this was due to overheating so we instituted the rest period every day. Luckily after the well-tried and tested remedy of switching off and on again the instruments recovered and the spectre of hand steering to Singapore retreated for now at least! There was a slight problem with the circulation of the coolant in the engine so each day we had to pump out the coolant from the reservoir and return it to the radiator but the reason for this for the moment eludes us. We finally found some wind south of Wetar but it was accompanied by lightning and an unpleasant black wall behind us which brought increasing wind but we also added the motor to the sails to escape as quickly as possible as the  sky was alarmingly alight for several hours .

The next day it was  calm again and we refuelled with 120Ldiesel along the north coast of Alor and calculated we should have enough fuel to get to the marina in Lombok  where refuelling was easy .We did not relish struggling in another dirty Indonesian town searching for diesel . We decided we would take advantage of any wind if it came and indeed it did that evening with 30kts for a while but calming and changing direction so we could use it in comfort and make a good course .Somehow during this wind the little jenny sheet got stuck around the jammers on the mast .Luckily John noticed the strange angle of the sail just before dark and we released it as tightening the sail in such a strong wind around the jammer might have damaged it with disastrous consequences. We were not so lucky in another way as we had left the forward hatch open under the dinghy in the calm weather and as the waves got bigger some of them came into the forward cabin under the dinghy and soaked the bed with salt water! One thing John obsessively tries to keep out of the boat. The wind died the next afternoon but we were north of Flores now so making progress and the mixture of sailing and motoring continued as did our fuel calculations and how to arrive in Lombok in daylight.

On the night of Sunday 21st October we had a very strong wind  so neither of us had much sleep and we could only assume this was a land breeze of grand proportions because the islands are so high ,and usually the wind reduced by mid- morning . It was a long time since we had sailed close hauled into such strong winds but the reefing system worked well and Baringo perhaps enjoyed it more than we did. We had a quiet day but again at night the wind came up to 40 kts and for only the second time in the circumnavigation we put the third reef in the mainsail..This seemed a lot for a land breeze but there were no storm clouds and it was not forecast so we could not think of another explanation .By the morning of the 23rd October we were feeling quite tired and not relishing the prospect of another rough night so we started to look for anchorages. Luckily Claire from the convoy days had given us some anchorages and one of hers on the NW of Sembaya just fitted the bill so we headed for it, not far off our route and the right distance for us to reach the  marina in Lombok the next day . There was not much depth information about the anchorage on either Navionics or I -sailor but at least we knew it had been tested by Claire  so did not feel too worried. It proved to be a  pretty deserted bay but what depths were on the electronic charts bore no resemblance to reality ,in fact we though the depth meter was broken but it was just the error of the charts . After two attempts we found the premier spot and had a wonderfully calm night to catch up on sleep.

calm water at Potopaddu bay- wonderful!


A 04.00 start was needed to reach Medana Marina ,we had half a tank of diesel so felt secure with that but no sooner were we out of the peaceful anchorage than  the winds started at 30 kts ,presumably the last of the night’s land breeze which we were very pleased to have missed . We sped along the north of Lombok a dramatically high volcanic island and I went below for a short rest after the early start only to be called as John had the very scary and unpleasant experience of seeing a snake coming from the deck into the cockpit! After realising he was not hallucinating we set to finding a way to kill it ,we had no choice. Luckily it took refuge in the halyards and remained stationary and John did the deed  with the end of the wooden oar which we had ready as self defence against boarders . Had the snake got below on board life would have been extremely tricky. We had recently read of the tragic death of a young British man from a sea snake bite so this one was not a welcome visitor and we could only suppose it had climbed up the anchor chain. Sea snakes are some of the most venomous in the world. The wind as usual died by the middle of the day but revived again as we approached the marina and we were motoring during the afternoon into a 30kt headwind presumably a sea breeze this time .There was confusion again with the electronic charts but I- sailor was the most accurate, in fact the marina was not mentioned at all on Navionics and the AIS signal from one of the yachts in the marina was in a different bay! All very confusing but we could see all the masts so used eyeball navigations to get in. We had a few attempts at securing the mooring buoy in the strong wind but were tied up before dark and happy to be there and in addition we had received a welcome e-mail from the marina manager.

approaching Lombok

Medana Marina 24th October -28th October

This proved to be a real haven from the world of 30kt winds, short sharp waves and ceaseless motion. The bay was very calm and we received a lovely welcome from Soria when we went ashore next morning. Nothing seemed too much trouble, the diesel was ordered and laundry taken away and coffee produced in the Sailfish café ..bliss . While in the café we saw another boat coming in and amazingly it was “Intrigue” from Hong Kong although now under an Australian flag. So we had many happy reminiscing chats over the next few days ,accompanied by the local beer. The first  afternoon we loaded our jerry cans now full of diesel on board 190litres in all .The rest was coming the next day in the marina’s jerry cans and we would put that all in the tank .The next day we had an excellent breakfast in the sailfish café to fortify ourselves for the unpleasant job of refuelling the tank .We had to decant the  diesel into 20 litre jerry cans first as we could not carry 35 litres so it meant two journeys and filling the tank is slow using the Baha filter .This is vital as the fuel is quite dirty and certainly looked very different from the clear golden liquid we had used in Australia .We did not manage the task in one day and John had decided to go alongside the next day to have the boat cleaned which proved a good decision as we managed to spill more diesel than desirable during refuelling .We  could then fill up the tank from  the remaining  when we were on the pontoon . It had been an exhausting hot day.

Medana Bay marina

A welcome sign for all boaters!

On Saturday 27th  October we went alongside early in the morning before the wind picked up and finally finished the refuelling with the help of one of the marina staff which made it much easier . After another delicious Sailfish Café breakfast we went to  the capital of Lombok Mataram with a driver and were rather shocked to see so much earthquake damage from a series of tremors that had affected northern Lombok in august .Piles of rubble where houses should have been and many damaged dwellings covered in tarpaulin, our driver had lost his house and was living in a tent with his family. Repair work was underway but it looked like a long process. We found everything we needed in the quite westernised supermarket and returned with the provisions. We  decided to stay alongside as the wind was now strong and we did not want to waste time trying to pick up a mooring buoy .   So we had a pleasant evening in the bar catching up on Hong Kong people and places and meeting the other sailors staying here . Medana Bay marina can be highly recommended for any other cruisers reading this.

Baringo alongside with Intrigue

Moorings at Medana

sailfish cafe

sailfish cafe

We plan to leave on Sunday 28th October for Nongsa Point Marina Batam Island.

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The Northern Queensland Coast Cairns to Horn Island, Torres Straits 27th September – 8th October 2018

Baringo survived her two months in the Bluewater Marina in Cairns very well despite her keel sitting in mud twice daily at low tide. Once back on board we  set about the usual preparations for the journey north along the Queensland coast but there is much less work with her in the water than  when she has been left on the hard . We had the rigging and the hull checked by experts. The anodes are always a worry after staying in a marina and we were next to a steel boat. Apparently all was well above and below the water so once loaded with tins and jars and fresh provisions we untied the lines on Thursday morning 27th September and made our way through the mangrove waterways, first towards the fuel dock in the adjacent marina and then on to the open sea. However our journey came to an abrupt halt sooner than expected when we ran aground in the channel about fifteen minutes later! It was nearly high tide so not very much more water would flow our way but after a lot of engine revving and trying to hold out the boom we floated again and filled all our jerry cans with fuel giving us a range of about 1000nm in preparation for the lack of wind we may find in Indonesia .


leaving blue water marina just before running aground

jerry cans in shower

We found the usual SE trade winds awaiting us at sea so sailed with jib alone northwards in pleasant conditions. We planned an overnight sail and as the light faded so the wind picked up to force 7. We were following the main shipping channel as the distance between the mainland and the Barrier Reef is much narrower here which makes for calmer seas but also close encounters with large vessels. By midnight we were on a collision course with two giants one following another, but now with AIS communications are much easier and the vessels courteously altered course and avoided us. We were limited in our manoeuvrability with  the strong wind which they appreciated. The night continued rather rough until dawn but the passage is well marked and the chart plotter makes all the difference. We arrived at our chosen anchorage Bathurst Bay a very large bay  sheltered by Cape Melville where we found a very long beach and managed to get in quite close to try and find shelter. Our experience along this coast is shelter is a relative concept meaning a slight reduction in waves but no reduction in wind strength. Bathurst bay was no exception but we slept well after our first overnight experience for 18 months.

island off QLD coast

We now had a choice between two shipping channels; the original inner passage and a new but shorter outer “Lad’s passage”. The weather forecast was now strong SE winds gusting 40 for the next five days so we chose the inner passage as we might be further from the weather and we had the chance to stop and anchor which we could not do in Lad’s Passage . The morning sail again was pleasant but afternoon brought much stronger winds which became more easterly and we decided to stop for the night at Morris island but this entailed heading slightly north east towards the centre of the channel which proved difficult in the wind which was now 35 knots and rising! With the brute force of the engine we made it and found a tiny tropical island, very Robinson Crusoe, so we anchored just off the beach with the breeze unabated but at least we had calm water behind the large reef.

Morris island

Morris island effect of wind

The next day Sunday 30th September we had planned an early start as the sailing always seemed more pleasant in the mornings before the wind roughed around 3.00pm but at 05.30 the wind was still howling and in the dark the prospect of weighing the anchor did not appeal so it was back to bed and we stayed at Morris Island until the following morning. At 06.00 the next day everything was much more inviting so we set sail for our next chosen anchorage Portland Road where there is a small outpost of people but en-route we had several discussions about the merits of continuing overnight again but as the wind was forecast to remain strong for the next few days, and we preferred arriving at Thursday island in calm conditions as we had to dinghy ashore there, we decided we would stop for the night once more. The wind had been force 5 to 6 most of the day but fortunately the seas were certainly not commensurate with the wind strength because of the shelter from the reef otherwise it would have been a very uncomfortable passage. Portland Road was a pleasant anchorage with the usual relative shelter and a dive boat and a few fishing boats in the anchorage and we could see about 5 houses ashore.

We reviewed the next day’s journey, the pilot book by Alan Lucas is excellent and very detailed and also interesting reading with many historical stories interwoven with the navigation advice. We decided to try for Margaret Bay about 43 miles north but would assess the weather early and decide a final plan. Initially I thought it looked rather too rough but skipper thought we should make progress and it would be no worse than the day before so we left and met some of the strongest winds we have experienced gusting up to 60 knots dropping to a steady 40 knots so rather too much for comfort but at least with the protection of the reef the seas were relatively calm except for a short area where the reef was minimal and we certainly  felt it. We had the added problem of encountering two cargo vessels in the narrowest part of the whole channel which required radio exchange to avoid unnecessarily close encounters. There were also plenty of reefs to avoid which required going more upwind which was unpleasant in the prevailing 40 knots but we changed from the big jib handkerchief to the little jib handkerchief and the boats stability improved very pleasantly as the sail area was much lower even though it is not a downwind sail. Luckily we had no gear failures and with much relief we finally rounded Cape Grenville into Margaret bay   and found two catamarans already at anchor there. We anchored in the prevailing 35 knots but the holding is good in mud so we were quickly secure and below deck out of the wind at last.

It was now Wednesday 3rd 0ctober and we reviewed the weather at 05.00 and decided it was too windy to move on so another make and mend day on board, there are always jobs to be done! Today it was retrieving a rat line we had omitted to remove from the little jib halyard when we had used it in the very heavy wind, it had migrated up to the first spreader. Then we renewed the tennis ball on the spinnaker halyard which prevents the metal shackle from jamming at the top of the mast, a job which had been on the list for some time now! We did some route planning through Indonesia using a friend’s route and the excellent Stephen Davies pilot book. We started the water maker for the journey and luckily it performed very efficiently after the leaks had been sealed in Townsville. We knew the wind was forecast to be lighter the next day. The nearest available anchorage going north is about 65 nm  in the Escape river estuary which we did not favour as our past experience in an estuary was an unpleasant one and this one had the added complication of the presence of pearl farms . We hoped we might get through the Albany Pass at the northern end of Cape York if our speeds were good enough as Shallow Bay just in the north end of the pass looked much more inviting and had the added attraction of knowing that Joshua Slocum had anchored there. All started well, we were making at least 7kts but this was not to continue once the tide changed  we were down to 5kts but nevertheless we passed the river estuary around 15.30 so decided to continue to Albany Pass, only another 20nm . The passage surprised us by its elegance in the crepuscular light but we had a moment of anxiety when we approached the entrance and the water was frothing wildly as if submarine creatures were fighting underneath the surface, but as we closed the entrance the starboard side was calm and we glided pleasantly into the pass under motor making 9.5kts with the tide. Shallow Bay was equally calm and we anchored easily in the company of a catamaran and were joined later by another two vessels.

Typical reefs going up the coast.

white sand cliffs looking like snow, near the top of Cape York

entrance to Albany pass

sunset seen from shallow bay

Friday 5th October was the final push to Horn Island, another dawn start to get the help of the flooding tide and only 20nm to go . Much to our delight and surprise we had no wind that morning, very strange in this the area of the world where the trade winds blow their strongest! The route was well marked as usual in Australia with a dog leg into the anchorage to avoid the reefs. We were called on the radio by the Australian Border force patrol vessel on the way in, they keep a close eye on the Torres Straits but luckily we had the correct responses and were allowed to continue. We had decided to anchor at Horn Island rather than Thursday island as it is more sheltered from the wind and better holding and we could take the ferry across to Thursday island to process the exit formalities .We had anchored by 09.00 and after smartening up for an office encounter we crossed on the ferry to Thursday island. Facilities were not  abundant so after a rather tasteless and unhealthy snack we checked out from Australia, but luckily we were allowed to stay for a couple of days to try and get the fridge repaired….a voyage without a  cold beer is not one to contemplate happily .

Horn Island or now Wongai Hotel

So by Monday 8th October after nearly two years Baringo should  finally leave Australia; but she has received lots of care and attention here which although expensive was of a high standard so we hope this investment will see us safely to Singapore .

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Hamilton Island to Cairns 20th June -16th July

We left Hamilton Island still in quite a strong wind and decided to go back to Port of Airlie marina rather than anchor off and dinghy in ,the lazy option ! We had to collect a new Raymarine display dial as more were going black this year and it would be cheaper to provision here than on Hamilton Island.

cockatoos Hamilton island atop golf cart

We left the marina on 22nd July and headed north west towards Edgecombe Bay, we were trying to avoid overnight sailing if possible on this trip and indeed we had the time and there are plenty of anchorages.  We transited Gloucester Passage to gain the anchorage luckily at high tide as it was rather shallower than we had expected so luck was on our side again. It was a quiet night so the routine of cocktails in the cockpit followed by supper and a DVD was easily accomplished. The next day was a 40nm mile run to Cape Upstart a very high peninsula around the back of which we presumed would be a sheltered anchorage but we were wrong. We spent some time going up and down in search of a quiet spot but there were none, so we picked the best we could and had quite a noisy night with the wind blowing and the waves slapping. Once we left the next morning to our surprise we found ourselves in the wind shadow of this high cape for quite a long time although it had eluded us at anchor!

The wind was quite strong about 25knots and the swell picked up but downwind it was manageable with jib alone and we made good progress to the next stop Cape Bowling Green. This was a complete geographical contrast to Cape upstart as it was long cape of very flat land so we did not expect much shelter from the wind but hoped for calmer waters behind the cape.  Our expectation was not realised and as we went further and further into Bowling Green Bay the  wind and waves remained unabated. As usual the  water was shallow and even when we reached a possible anchorage well into the bay we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere as the land around was so low it was almost invisible. So with no prospect of shelter we decided to continue to Magnetic Island just off the coast of Townsville to seek a calmer anchorage. We made good speed and it was a moonlit night so we arrived to the welcome peace of Horseshoe Bay on the north side of the island at 21.30. There were about twenty other boats there in the recommended SE corner but enough space for all. After dodging an unlit boat we anchored and had a quiet night.

Townsville view from Castle hill with magnetic island in the distance.

After a quiet day at anchor in Horseshoe Bay we needed to go to Townsville marina to get the new Raytheon display unit fitted and operational and we had also noticed our AIS ( automatic identification system ) was not working, we could see other boats but they could not see us. We had confirmed our suspicions by asking a commercial vessel to check if they could see us and they could not. Luckily Townsville seemed to have all marine services available and The Breakwater Marina there was very pleasant and we had both problems fixed in one day .Interestingly the problem with the AIS was corrosion of the wires at the stern carrying the GPS signal!  Despite being protected by plastic coating their position at the stern of the boat in the destructive marine environment had been too much for them over the last eighteen years.  We took advantage of our time there to drive around Townsville and go up Castle hill which overlooks city and almost divides it into two. We had a splendid view over the sea towards Magnetic Island.

We returned to Magnetic island the following day and enjoyed a few days there hiking and swimming and even stand up paddle boarding. It was warm sunny weather and we used the solar panel charging device that Henry had given us to charge our phoned and i-pads with great success. This could prove very useful in the event of electrical failure as we would still be able to charge the i-pad for navigation. So we immediately felt more secure!

solar phone charger

Arthur beach Magnetic island

There is an old Second World War fort on the island built to look out for the Japanese coming by sea, in fact they never did, but the old buildings and gun posts have been preserved and are interesting to look at and realise the difficult conditions the soldiers had to work in there. We saw two wild koala bears on this walk as there are a large number of wild bears in this particular area.

“Wild” Kaola


It is never long before another problem arrives on a boat and this time it was the generator that stopped. We spent a beautiful sunny day diagnosing the problem ourselves and finally discovered it was the sea water flow sensor, again very badly corroded .John removed it and the generator worked perfectly but clearly this was not safe in the long term so it was back to Breakwater Marina on 4th July for the Cummins expert to help out. In addition to the corroded sensor corrosion had attacked  several important wires which needed  to be replaced as well as the flow sensor . We found ourselves significantly poorer the next day but we did have a working generator.  Repairs are expensive in Australia but they are done well and professionally.

We left from the Townsville Marina on 6th July and continued north for the final push to Cairns. There was no wind so we had to motor to Juno bay Fantome Island in the Palm island group which was  beautiful and a perfect anchorage in the non- existent wind but would have been a different story in an established SE trade .

We had planned  to navigate the Hitchinbrook narrows a channel between the dramatic Hitchinbrook island and the main land but in order to enter we had  to cross a sandbar in Lucinda the small town at the southern end of the narrows .As previously mentioned we had  been moving up the coast under the watchful eye of the Volunteer Marine Reserve contacting them daily with our progress and sailing intentions. This morning before entering the narrows which we knew we could only do on a rising tide we were warned by the VMR against attempting to cross the moving sandbar. Of course it is all on the  charts but as the bar moves every year they could not possibly be accurate so we sailed up the sea side of Hitchinbrook island which was  disappointing but at least safe and  the mountains were certainly dramatic on this the second windless day. We had intended to anchor at the northern end of the narrows anyway and as the strong SE winds were returning, they don’t stay away for long, we found a well sheltered anchorage just off Hecate point and stayed for the next  day as well as there was a strong wind warning. The weather forecast in Australia is very accurate and broadcast twice daily on the VHF radio by each VMR station along the coast which is very reassuring.

We sailed off again on 9th July to our next chosen spot Mourilyan harbour another small sugar port with a very narrow entrance flanked on each side by two peaks Hilda and George. Although the peaks are easily seen the narrow entrance is invisible until you are opposite it. There were several boats at anchor and as usual the water was very shallow and in addition there were many mooring buoys which we had to avoid. So finding a suitable spot was even more difficult than usual but we did but only after one unsuccessful attempt. The tide was strong and the wind weak inside the harbour so predicting the final resting place of the boat which would sit  mainly to the tide is not very easy. We ended up rather too close to a couple of other boats but hoping we would all swing in unison with the tide we stayed put and all was well.

We now had only one more stop before Cairns and we had a good sail under jib alone down wind and made good progress towards Fitzroy Island a popular tourist island near Cairns.  It was a sunny day but on arrival at Fitzroy it did not seem that sheltered and there were several yachts already anchored there so we took the second anchorage choice in Mission bay a little further around the coast. The wind was blowing strongly but we had at least lost the swell on rounding the cape but as usual it was difficult for us to get far enough in because of the depth to really get shelter from the wind. We were obviously getting braver as we left only 0.7m under the keel at low tide .

The next morning it was round to Bluewater Marina which again we had to enter in as high a tide as possible to get up a mangrove creek. We had the usual friendly Australian welcome with someone to help with the lines and we were once again safely tied up. We set to work packing the boat up for the six weeks stay there and luckily had a couple of days spare to explore Cairns and the Atherton tablelands.

Cairns waterfront at low tide

Another view of Cairns waterfront

Crocodile Warning on the waterfront!

Descending from the Atherton table land

Tropical Rain forest Butterfly- Name??

We left on 16th July hoping to return for the final leg to Singapore in mid-September.

Apologies for the paucity of photographs but we lost our camera in Magnetic island.

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