Day 53, Year 3: Overnight Passage to Malay Bay
Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day; Winds SE 20
Latitude: 11 degrees 21.634 minutes S
Longitude: 135 degrees 01.760 minutes E
Location: Passage Across the Southern Arafura Sea, Australia

We are celebrating the first of July in an overnight passage to Malay Bay on the western side of the Arafura Sea. We are assuming this is part of the Indian Ocean as we know it is no longer the Pacific, but we need clarification on that. We were in the Coral Sea as we worked our way north up the east coast of Australia. The Arafura Sea is between Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia, and just above Darwin the Arafura gives way to the Timor Sea. The Wessel Islands, of which Raragala and The
Hole in the Wall are a part, are at the western end of the Gulf of Carpentaria, so once we went through the “hole” we were in the Arafura. That’s probably a complicated explanation for something simple, but it is all so new to me. I think simple explanations come once a person is more familiar. Anyway, we are celebrating the first of July because we are having an uneventful day with great sailing. After our night of bumping and grinding on the rocks in the anchorage at Wigram Island and the passage
through The Hole in the Wall yesterday, we needed a quiet day. As Jerry on Oema said on the radio net this morning, “Anticipating going through The Hole in the Wall was like waiting outside the headmaster’s office for punishment. You just didn’t know what it was going to be like going through a crack in the land in the middle of sea.” But we did successfully get through that challenge and we are now making tracks, being blown by a good 20 to 30 knot breeze from the east across this 200 mile wide
expanse of water between us and the islands on the far side. Once there we have about three or four more days of island traversing before the final run to Darwin. But once we complete this overnight passage, we are “almost” there.

Donna and Gerry on Scot Free II are having their troubles today. The one and only head (toilet) is not working and Gerry can’t get at the problem until we reach a quiet anchorage. It makes me REALLY glad that we have two heads. We heard on the net this morning that Patrick and Margaret on Aqua Magic were about 40 miles from Darwin, so they should have arrived today. When we left Seisia, they went over the top of the Wessel Islands and just kept on going. It will be good for Patrick to be in
a secure anchorage so his hand can heal properly. It must have been extremely difficult for him and for Margaret with a one-handed captain. A boat named Oema and another named La Passarola are somewhere behind us doing this same overnight crossing. Most of the other Australian boats we know are day hopping along the Northern Territory coast and will get into Darwin about a week after us. Of course, that is assuming all goes well for us. The sun is setting and it is time to get ready for night
watches. As we are sailing wing and wing into the sunset, the winds are increasing and are predicted to stay that way through tomorrow. So we should have a nice downwind ride tonight and through tomorrow. But the emphasis is on the word “should.” With sailing, nothing ever seems to be “for sure.”