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Old 29-05-2018, 02:08   #1
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Torres Straits Advice

Hi there. Looking for advice on transiting the Torres Straits.

Weíll be heading West from Vanuatu in a couple of months to Bali and are thinking something like:

Vanuatu
Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea)
West Timor (Indonesia)
Bali (Indonesia)

We are double handed on a 36-foot yacht that usually makes about 125 miles a day and carries fuel for 3 days. Does this route sound reasonable? We donít want to stop in Australia if it can be avoided because itís bloody expensive and sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare. We want to be in South Africa before November so we canít take our time :-(

Questions:

1) anything glaringly stupid about this itinerary at this time of year (about August)?

2) Is West Timor really the first place to check in to Indonesia, and therefore the first place we can stop after Port Moresby?

3) What are those little islands off the South East corner of Papua New Guinea. Rossel and Tagula and some other little ones. Can we stop there? Worth checking out?

4) Should we just scrap this plan entirely and take a Northern route around PNG? It adds, I think, about 600 miles to the route but might offer more opportunities to rest.

What say you Wizened Torres Cruisers?

Cheers!
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Old 29-05-2018, 02:14   #2
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

I can only help with Q1.
August is fine; usually you can expect 25Kts SE'ly 24/7 during August in the TS.
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Old 29-05-2018, 02:15   #3
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

See also Torres Strait in October
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Old 29-05-2018, 04:11   #4
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

1) anything glaringly stupid about this itinerary at this time of year (about August)?


No.


2) Is West Timor really the first place to check in to Indonesia, and therefore the first place we can stop after Port Moresby?


I think that Kepulauan Tanimbar is the closest Port of Entry to POM, assuming you don't want the hassles of a clearance for West Papua (about 300NM less than to West Timor)



3) What are those little islands off the South East corner of Papua New Guinea. Rossel and Tagula and some other little ones. Can we stop there? Worth checking out?


Officially, you shouldn't stop there unless you have cleared in somewhere


4) Should we just scrap this plan entirely and take a Northern route around PNG? It adds, I think, about 600 miles to the route but might offer more opportunities to rest.

Going north about in July/August you are likely to be in very light variable winds once you get past Madang all the way to Sorong. I'd stick with the southern route.
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Old 02-06-2018, 23:22   #5
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuM View Post
1) anything glaringly stupid about this itinerary at this time of year (about August)?


No.


2) Is West Timor really the first place to check in to Indonesia, and therefore the first place we can stop after Port Moresby?


I think that Kepulauan Tanimbar is the closest Port of Entry to POM, assuming you don't want the hassles of a clearance for West Papua (about 300NM less than to West Timor)



3) What are those little islands off the South East corner of Papua New Guinea. Rossel and Tagula and some other little ones. Can we stop there? Worth checking out?


Officially, you shouldn't stop there unless you have cleared in somewhere


4) Should we just scrap this plan entirely and take a Northern route around PNG? It adds, I think, about 600 miles to the route but might offer more opportunities to rest.

Going north about in July/August you are likely to be in very light variable winds once you get past Madang all the way to Sorong. I'd stick with the southern route.
Kepulauan Tanimbar is a port of entry? It's not listed as an official one on noonsite. That would be great!

Is it a PITA to clear in to West Papua? Possible at Merauke for instance?
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:20   #6
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

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Kepulauan Tanimbar is a port of entry? It's not listed as an official one on noonsite. That would be great!
Yes, Noonsite does list Kepuluauan Tanimbar as a port of entry. But Noonsite uses the name "Tanimbar Islands". See: Tanimbar Islands ‚ÄĒ

The port of entry is Saumlaki, on Pulau Yamdena.

I've done exit procedures, but not entry procedures, in Saumlaki. A pleasant enough place. Large Christian population.
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Old 15-06-2018, 16:13   #7
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

Can you go through the Torres Strait checking in and out at Port Moresby without having to touch Australia?

That would save a lot of hassle if that's the case
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Old 15-06-2018, 18:07   #8
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

When we sailed west from Vanuatu, our first stop was Chesterfield Reef, which had some of the most spectacular diving/snorkeling of any of the places weíve been. Frankly, I donít recall Australia as being expensive or complicated to check-in to. We spent 7 months in Oz and loved it. By the way, we checked into Indonesia in Sumlaki and it was very easy.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 15-06-2018, 19:41   #9
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

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Can you go through the Torres Strait checking in and out at Port Moresby without having to touch Australia?

That would save a lot of hassle if that's the case
AFAIK, yes.
You will get numerous calls from the overflying Coastwatch aircraft wanting to know your intentions but I don't believe there is any legal reason to clear into Australia providing you are sailing though and not going ashore anywhere (in Oz).

Technically it might be legal to anchor (without going ashore) but realistically I think you would have explain yourself in detail to someone, somewhere if you anchored.
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Old 22-06-2018, 14:02   #10
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

Hi definitely me

It is tricky navigation coming from the Coral Sea to Port Moresby, the warrior reefs have a reputation for unpredictable currents and winds, it is easier to clear into Thursday Is. in the Torres Straits than to navigate your way into Moresby once there you have to put up with high security due to the rascal problem.

For my money and time I would bypass Port Moresby, call into TI, enjoy the islands and people, time your exit to enter the Gulf of Carpenteria, for your next leg.

Also Indonesia does not give vessels from PNG and Irian Jia (West Papua) a smooth welcome.

Fair Winds and Calm seas
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Old 22-06-2018, 15:45   #11
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

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Hi definitely me

It is tricky navigation coming from the Coral Sea to Port Moresby, the warrior reefs have a reputation for unpredictable currents and winds, it is easier to clear into Thursday Is. in the Torres Straits than to navigate your way into Moresby


Nothing tricky about getting to POM froom Vanuatu. The Warrior reefs are irrelevant to that regardless of whether they clear into TI or not, they will face the Warrior reefs (unless they want to try Pandora passage )


Quote:

once there you have to put up with high security due to the rascal problem.
Ever checked into the RPYC and re-provisioned in downtown POM?


Quote:
Also Indonesia does not give vessels from PNG and Irian Jia (West Papua) a smooth welcome.
First I've heard of that. We see lots of boats every year doing what the OP is talking about. More and more are using POM as a resupply point and by-passing checking in to Australia when moving from the South Pacific to SE Asia.
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Old 05-08-2018, 16:26   #12
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Torres Straits Advice

Thanks everyone, your advise is invaluable. In Vanuatu now and setting sail for POM shortly. The plan is to sail from there to Saumlaki (thanks for that StuM) direct. The tides through the Straits seem like a nightmare from what I can find on the interwebs but Iíve found a site that gives tidal stream predictions for a few spots along the way. Questions:

1) Iím a little confused by the comment about the Warrior Reefs being a problem to get in to Port Moresby. Arenít the Warrior Reefs located in the Straits? Just West of Bligh Entrance, the Eastern entrance to the Straits?

2) presumably the tidal streams are only really a concern where the flow is more restricted by narrow channels, lots of islands, shallow depth etc. I.E. East of the Warrior Reefs, then a kind of break, then big currents in the Prince of Wales Channel. So, if I time the passage through the first bit to have a mostly W-flowing stream, donít worry too much about the middle bit and then have another W-flowing stream to get through the last bit am I on the right track?

3) Is the Prince of Wales Channel the right way to go or should I be looking to exit to the West through the Endeavour Straits?

Itís a shame it sounds like we wonít be able to anchor for a night or two and get some rest. There are only two of us on a 36í slow boat and Iím anticipating this passage being very tiring. At least the newly-installed AIS transponder that we picked up in NZ should reduce potential problems with shipping. Heard you have to have one these days for Indonesia.
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Old 05-08-2018, 21:19   #13
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

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The tides through the Straits seem like a nightmare from what I can find on the interwebs but Iíve found a site that gives tidal stream predictions for a few spots along the way.
Yes, Torres Strait surely is one of the more complex tidal regimes on the planet. A mix of several factors: the throughflow of Pacific water; wind driven surface current; the meeting of the diurnal tide regime (to the W, in the Gulf of Carpentaria) and the semi-diurnal tidal regime (to the E, in the Coral Sea) between 142E and 143E; a so-called equalising current trying hard to bring the level of the Pacific to the level of the Arafura Sea; and likely others of which I known naught.

The good thing for you is the equalising current is W-going and the SE trades mean the surface wind current is W-going.

Note that the published tidal stream predictions (e.g. for Hammond Rock) do not include the equalising current nor the surface wind current: you need to consider them as additions to the tidal stream prediction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
1) Iím a little confused by the comment about the Warrior Reefs being a problem to get in to Port Moresby. Arenít the Warrior Reefs located in the Straits? Just West of Bligh Entrance, the Eastern entrance to the Straits?
Yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
2) presumably the tidal streams are only really a concern where the flow is more restricted by narrow channels, lots of islands, shallow depth etc. I.E. East of the Warrior Reefs, then a kind of break, then big currents in the Prince of Wales Channel.
That seems a reasonable assumption. I've only worked through Prince of Wales and then visited Thursday, Horn etc. I can attest that the stream around and in between the islands can be seriously tough. One of my experiences there, trying to row our tender against it, convinced me to buy an outboard for the first time.

If we use the tidal stream prediction for Hammond Rock, you'll find streams at the E end (say around Saddle Island) relatively weak and perhaps 30 minutes earlier than the Hammond Rk prediction. Then the streams get stronger as you approach the area constrained by the islands and shoals.

In the PoW Channel from Twin Island/Edwards Rock and W to Goods Island, the tidal stream in time and strength fits the Hammond Rk prediction.

At the W end (say around Booby I) the stream weaken and are less reliable in direction as they diffuse in several direction.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
3) Is the Prince of Wales Channel the right way to go or should I be looking to exit to the West through the Endeavour Straits?
If you're not checking into Aus at TI, then I think Prince of Wales Channel would be better. I wouldn't be surprised if Aus authorities and their contractors look more carefully at any unchecked in vessel transiting Endeavour Strait. But I don't know for sure. I'm not associated with the Aus authorities and cannot speak for them.

Broadcasting a properly configured AIS signal might calm the apprehensions of the Aus authorities and their contractors.

My rule of thumb for dealing with Aus authorities is to think of them (and their rule-following without discretion contractors) as German Shepherd dogs. Fun to play with. Some are quite intelligent, but the general rule is that they are not recruited from the top end of their school class. If they get frightened of you, they bite!
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Old 05-08-2018, 21:23   #14
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

Attached is the Hammond Rock tidal stream predictions for the remainder of this calendar year. A 25 KB pdf.

If you want tide predictions, search for "BlueBook-2018-Torres-Strait", a pdf of about 2MB.
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Old 05-08-2018, 22:30   #15
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Re: Torres Straits Advice

I came across the top from W to E last year and was not accosted by coast watch in the entire 4,000 nm voyage. I also went that way twice, E - W 2012, W - E 2013 and was only accosted once about half way down the peninsular I think a lot of that activity tends to calm down when the illegal immigrant thing is periodically bought under control. Also until last year I had avoided going anywhere near Thursday Island due to it's reputation for intrusive and aggressive border control and quarantine officialdom. I visited TI for about ten days during last years transit and was not approached by anyone and the folks I did meet appeared to be a fairly friendly and cheerful bunch.

We seemed to go through a period of aggressive officialdom after 9-11 from both state and federal authorities but things appear to have calmed down considerably in the last five or six years.

As for the cost well if you enter in say Bundaberg and cruise your way up the Queensland coast and across to Darwin for clearing out again you are going to get a lot for your money and if ammoritized over all the free anchorages and stops it will turn out to be dirt cheap.
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