Across the Gulf of Carpentaria

Mostly we had good winds behind us, a couple of calm patches, one just as we exited the Endeavour Strait in the late afternoon and we did wonder if that was it, no wind for the whole crossing, but it came back. As you come out of Endeavour Strait it is very shallow, 10m and it’s a long way until you cross the 20m contour. The second day we were closer to the wind and it increased with a big sea. Timshel was charging along, but however fast we went we were not going to get to Gove in daylight so we reefed and set the staysail instead of the Yankee and the boat was much more comfortable. Eventually we anchored off Bremner Island just north of Gove at 5 am and went on next day after a bit of sleep. With a fresh wind and waves dead against us it took a while to get to the harbour where we anchored among the many boats. Not all the boats are in prime condition, some have been abandoned and there are still a few wrecks from the last cyclone.

There is a thriving yacht club, Gove Boat club, just across the bay, they are very friendly and you can get temporary membership for just 10$ a week to use showers and washing machines etc, there is a bar and they do food Thursday for Sunday. Apparently there are s couple of tame crocodiles around.

We aimed to get the bus into town (6miles) to shop next morning, but met boat builder Glen in the yard who gave us a lift in his truck. Next day Glen very kindly made a special trip into town with our jerrycans and gas bottle so that we could get diesel and a refill, he even found time to show us the sights from the lookout. A wonderful man, so helpful; it would have been really difficult for us to get those supplies without him.

Gove is a small town maybe 3000 people in the Aboriginal lands that is here because of the bauxite (aluminium) mine. There is a metalled road to the airport otherwise dirt roads. There is also the longest conveyor in the world taking ore from the mine to the big ship wharf. It is a dry town and you need a permit to buy take away alcohol. The mining company, Rio Tinto, give a lot of support to the town, there is a 50m swimming pool, BMX track, tennis courts, golf course etc. Not certain that the Aboriginal community use many of these facilities which is sad. They have many health problems and their life expectancy which was once very high is now much lower than average. The whole of this remote north part of Australia is Aboriginal lands, but presumably the incomers didn’t want this bit. You need a special permit to go ashore in most places.

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