The wind on the first day out peaked at around 23 knots from the East, with conditions being a bit rolly, but we thought it prudent to put a "night-time reef" into the mainsail anyway.
Which we didn't need, but with our 3-4 hour watches, it made for an easier sleep for the off-watch crew. We also have our own rule that the person on watch in the cockpit must be life-jacketed and clipped on when they're up there alone.
By the morning, wind had calmed down quite a bit and we wrestled with several useful sail combinations, none of which really worked efficiently, but the motor just thumped along and kept us at a consistent 6 knots or so.
During the daytime, things were getting a bit warm....well, bloody hot... in the cockpit, and it was difficult to find enough shade to fully stretch out and relax.
It was an uneventful crossing. We saw a couple of ships to our north early on the first day, and then not another vessel for the entire trip. We had a buzz from a Customs plane one afternoon, and that was about it. We read books, lounged around, kept tabs on our course and progress, slept and chased shady spots.
Our friends Rick and Glad, who were sailing between Port Douglas and Townsville aboard "Rumba" , also kept tabs on us with regular HF radio contact, which was mightily reassuring.
It was about 3.00 pm on the last day when we spotted a smudge of land on our bow, and it seemed to take forever until we were within clear sight of Gove. It may be just a grungy old aluminium smelter but it sure did look welcoming!
So, on schedule and without drama, we completed the Gulf crossing to drop anchor outside the Gove Boat Club at a little after 8.00 pm at night, and promptly curled up for a blissful and satisfied sleep.
After a leisurely breakfast, we hitchhiked into the nearby town of Nhulunbuy, where we feasted on milkshakes, beer and a pub lunch.
We also registered for a Liquor Permit so we could buy alcohol in the supermarket, and went to the Northern Land Council office to obtain permits to visit the aboriginal settlement at Galiwinku, which lay further to our West.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Club, and met Peter and Shannon from the yacht "Tryphena" who were heading East and waiting for some Northwest breeze.
Mary and I set off for the art gallery at the aboriginal settlement of Yirrkala, but realised it was Saturday afternoon and that they were closed.
On Sunday, I started the day aboard the boat with an oil and filter change, our good ol' diesel engine having done such a splendid job motoring all that way across the Gulf. I figured that it deserved a bit of pampering. There was a minor environmental disaster that occurred when I fired it up, having missed removing the seal from the old oil filter first. there was a spectacular pressurised spray of hot oil all over myself, and the galley!
But after a quick cleanup and correcting the problem, it was off to coffee aboard "Tryphena" and a very civilised lunch ashore at the Club. And a shower!
I had minor repairs on our mainsail to deal with, (probably caused by a combination of sun damage and slapping on our crossing). I also repaired our misbehaving power generator, which, although we'd still never actually had a need to use the thing, was a great emergency device in the event of electricity failure.
Mary, meanwhile, had taken to the dinghy and was busily doing shuttle runs, recycling small plastic drink containers and filling them with fresh tap water. The water we'd filled our tanks with from the barge back in Lockhart River was a bit dodgy, and our drinking water consumption is skyrocketing in the N.T. weather. One or two litre plastic bottles fit nicely into our little fridge.