01 July 2012 (Eastern Hemisphere)
We felt in no rush to leave Gove today as we decided to just go to Elizabeth Bay and stay the night, planning to arrive at Hole in the Wall at the morning slack low tide. We got the expected wind however and decided to press on to catch the late afternoon slack at 5:30 p.m. This is not a preferred time for me NOT to be anchored in dubiously charted and unknown areas to Skipper Scott. However, everyone advised us that the anchorage at Raragala (where I am writing from) was a very easy entry which it was. Also, the winds which are 20-25 knots now are predicted to be up to 25-30 tomorrow. Better to get through \”The Hole\” before the wind really kicks up. One nice thing is that the islands we are in, the Wessel Group, knocks out the sea, so no big waves and not too uncomfortable at all.
The Gugari Rip: (AKA: The Hole In the Wall) The Rip is known locally as \”The Hole In the Wall\” and truly has an side cut (the actual HOLE) in the side of the wall where it looked extremely calm. The rip is between two islands, Raragala and Guluwuru (Aboriginal names). These are both required to have a permit to go ashore as they are Aboriginal lands. We can see no one anywhere along the coast, fyi. I doubt that more than a handful of people live on either island (if any!) and they are each about 7 miles long.
The flood tide goes from west to east and we were sailing east to west with 22-25 knots of wind right behind us as we entered the mile and half long by 150 foot wide channel. At about 3 miles from the entrance, the ripping current going against the wind was causing very steep waves and I was a bit trepidous of what might lie ahead. Once commited to this trip, there is no \”plan B\”. You\’d have to go 7 miles with a beam sea on a lee shore to get around the islands. NO FUN as the seas against the windward side of the islands looked like the North Sea to Nikki.
As we timed it to arrive JUST BEFORE the high slack tide, only the entrance was a bit boisterous, the rest of it not bad at all. We briefly saw a 4 knot head current, but it average about 2-3 knots against us. Our timing was pretty good. Apparently, the current has been clocked at 9 knots in a full flood on spring tides. Our tide was only 6 feet (2 meters), so \”not so bad\”. The entire trip through the rip took 15 minutes. It\’s kind of like a Disneyland ride.
We got spit out of the west end and came into the windy but calm anchorage here at Raragala. Anchored next to \”Obsession II\” who went all the way around the island.
We think we\’ll \”day hop\” from here to Darwin as I feel comfortable about the lightly surveyed, but adequate charts. Most cruising areas have pretty thorough \”guides\”, this area does not. \”Mr. John VI\” gave us a copy of some information that makes it look like a nice adventure. This should be interesting as truly, this is perhaps the most remote area in all of Australia.
More tomorrow, KIT, Scott and Nikki