Coral Sea to Torres Strait: top of Australia

Thursday Island arrival!

Leaving Lizard Island, after a couple days' sail, we reached Cape York - the northernmost point of mainland Australia! There are many islands in Torres Strait, and the last Aussie island is just south of PNG, but when it comes to mainland, this is as far as you can get.

On the way to Cape York

We had an anchor stop near Mont Adolphus to catch up on some sleep, and then we finally came up to Thursday Island. There are many islands here in the Torres Strait and I would really have loved to explore them all. But we had limited time, so we stopped here. It is the northernmost port of entry in Australia, and has the northernmost airport.

Silver Fern on anchor

There's a bit of civilization in the shape of a couple of restaurants and shops, a cultural center, a sports center, some beautiful walks, a fire station, a hospital and a ferry terminal.

The last pub in Australia - there are no water holes on the smaller islands further up north in Torres Strait. Same goes for airports and other such stuff

The Indigenous Australians that live here are more like the Papua New Guinea folks than the Aboriginal People of Australia, with different traditions and appearance. With just about 100 nautical miles to go to PNG, maybe it's not very strange.

Local textiles of which they make dresses and shirts, and sell to the tourists

There is a pearling industry here, however the days of the pearling boats are gone and so are the divers. Nowadays, the pearls are cultivated. The pearl and mother of pearl jewellery are made here by the locals and sold at the local shops.

On the way there, our sister boat Salt Lines had an incident. The propeller shaft had overheated badly, with some melted plastic as a result (they had to through a few buckets of water on it before it stopped steaming). The seal had lost its integrity and the boat was now taking in water.

Photo of Salt Lines along the route

We made sure to steer into a protected anchorage in order to be able to work without the boat rolling. Then we rafted along Salt Lines that had dropped anchor. David and Sharon looked at the shaft and found the problem and a way to fix it. I was all ready with a firepump in case they would start taking in more water during the repairs. Finally, my firefighting skills could potentially be put into use on board! Luckily, they were all good, and the firefighting practice excercise remained and excercise.

Repairs ongoing. How many people can they cram into the bilge?

Sailing together with a sister boat definitely makes it safer to be out here in remote waters. Helping each other and sharing competence is a must at sea. Things do break sometimes, and it's all about knowledge, experience, and preparedness (which also means bringing lots of spare parts along).

The sister boats on a windy anchorage at Thursday Island

These waters are remote and quite dangerous - with the reefs, tides, currents, and not to forget - salt water crocodiles around! Often, there is no phone coverage, and as we left the Great Barrier Reef and the shipping lanes, there were not very many ships around. So you're on your own.

It's you and the local boats...

On the other hand, the remoteness of these islands is precious. And the scenery here is amazing. The waters are an insane turquoise color, even if the skies are gray - it's unbelievable.

A photo from when we were arriving to Thursday Island. The water is a bright turquoise despite the gray skies. The photo has no color filter, this is what it looks like!

We spent the night on the anchorage near thr mangroves on Horn Island, a bit more protected. In the morning, we were in for a treat as a salt water crocodile came out to the beach! It still was quite a distance away, but it sure was a magnificent sight. These are large beasts, and very dangerous.

A large salt water crocodile sunbathing on the beach near or anchorage.

We spent the Thursday there too, and visited the culture center and the historic fort. There was just so much to see!

Big cannons!

Another photo from the beach

However, soon we needed to leave as the wind was picking up and Salt Lines was dragging. I had had my 10k run in the heat, and a lovely shower at the sports center, so I was ready to go!

Roads with breathtaking views. From the run in the midday heat of northern Australia

The next island westwards was called Friday Island. We did not spend the Friday there, instead we sailed further. That will be the next blog post!

The anchorage seen from the beach

And just another portrait of Silver Fern in the bright blue waters despite gray skies.