Later in the afternoon, our tradewinds returned, and by the time we found shelter behind Morris Island for the night, another cute little sandy cay, the wind was blowing at 25 knots again.
It was an interesting looking island for a walk around the beach, but in the morning it was grey, cloudy and windy, so we were content to just check it out through the binoculars.
But the floating log that Mary spotted at one end of the beach seemed to be purposefully cruising the shoreline, and we wisely decided not to bother heading to shore after all. He was over 3 metres long, quietly patrolling his territory. Looking for a snack.
We had soon rounded Cape Direction and were making our way to shelter in the mouth of the Lockhart River.
We had strong phone signal again, being only a few miles from the aboriginal settlement. (Telstra provides excellent mobile phone coverage to all of the remote aboriginal settlements in Queensland and the N.T.)
We had planned to rendezvous here with the Sea Swift freight barge, to top up our fuel and water tanks.
With more strong wind warnings, we hunkered down in the river mouth, feeling a bit trapped because there's no place to take the dinghy ashore. Access to the settlement is only by a very exposed boat ramp some 5 miles away, so we just had to squat until the barge arrived.
A couple of days later, the barge came to us, we rafted up against her and loaded diesel and fairly murky fresh water. It was to be our last fuel top-up before crossing the Gulf Of Carpenteria, so an important event.
We also offloaded young Allie onto Captain Shane, the barge skipper, who was going to get her ashore once the wind backed off a little. From there, she was hoping to catch a ride south with a 4WD tourist passing through from Cape York. Hopefully not from the frying pan into the fire!
A couple of luxury power boats also found their way into the river mouth, and we had sundowners with them one night, but the weather was windy, rainy and grey. Not terribly pleasant, but the power boaters were keen fisherman and we did benefit from their generosity when they handed over a beautiful, freshly caught Mangrove Jack!
So, as soon as the wind had backed off a couple of knots, we zipped north and anchored off the township, such as it is. A few houses....a walk ashore....a great cafe....and a great lunch. (A bit of careful planning required there at Portland Roads, because the only dinghy access is at high tide, so it's no place for snoozing!)
After a night on the anchorage there, we were off in nice weather again, still with a 20 knot South Easterly behind us, dodging a couple of ships and rounding Cape Grenville to the superb little anchorage at Margaret Bay. Turtles, dugongs, and even a wild pig or two.
We followed a trail of blue plastic (yes....the Blue Trail) to Indian Bay, on the southern side of Cape Grenville, a bit depressing seeing the mounds of plastic that the Tradewinds drive onto our beaches. Yes, our pristine Great Barrier Reef hasn't been pristine for years, and I can't help but wonder how much longer we can go on producing disposable plastic stuff.
We left Margaret Bay at 5.00 am one morning, wind gusting to 30 knots, rough following seas and a long, rough day.
We wanted to ensure a daylight arrival into the Escape River mouth, which we knew was a little tricky with a bar, and rocks at the entrance.
The bar was actually fun, and we surfed in on six-foot waves, dodged the rocks, then sailed quite a way up the river to a more-or-less protected anchorage.
There was another yacht there, "City Limits", which was waiting for a break in the wind to head south.
I had a stressful night's sleep, knowing that in the morning, those fun six-foot waves we'd surfed in with, were going to be on our bow when we were leaving. And we'd be in a wind-against-tide situation, having planned a passage through the narrow and tidal Albany Passage later in the day. Just to unsettle me a bit more, we spoke to "City Limits" who told us they'd tried for a 2.00am departure that morning and been forced back by the rough conditions.
With sweaty palms, I set the staysail, fired up the engine, and out we went.
Heading north, it was easy!
We swapped the staysail for the jib and with 30 knots pushing us along, headed north for The Cape.