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Old 26-09-2020, 05:37   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Boat in Preveza Greece, awaiting our next trip, we are based Sunshine Coast Australia
Boat: Jeanneau SunFast 43
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Darwin to Cairns delivery in October

Hello All, I am helping deliver a Lagoon 38 Cat from Darwin to Cairns next month (Oct20). My references for weather etc are windy BOM and predict wind plus the invaluable "Alan Lucas cruising the coral coast" and Zulu Waterways which is fantastic. I am used to monohulls, done east coast racing down to Hobart and up to Southport, and cruising in the Med, but nothing on cats, ever. Looking at the wind patterns I am expecting there to be a lot of motoring or motor sailing. Going across the Gulf the wind seems to blow from the South occasionally during the night. Questions: 1) Do you have any tips on what to expect from the wind/swell direction? 2) What about the high current levels around the CAPE, 3) Some cool spots to hang out waiting for the wind to change or if a storm comes through, 4) How does a cat perform (VMG) with a small, flat jib (even storm sail) motoring into (20-40deg) wind/swell, and finally 5) Is there actually anywhere en route to supply fuel/food or leave the boat should we need to, looks to me the only options are Gove or Weipa, and even then, no actual marinas there, Thanks from Dean
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Old 20-10-2020, 05:52   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Boat in Preveza Greece, awaiting our next trip, we are based Sunshine Coast Australia
Boat: Jeanneau SunFast 43
Posts: 52
Send a message via Skype™ to OzDean
Re: Darwin to Cairns delivery in October

I have some answers, having completed the Darwin to Thursday Island leg last week. 1) The wind was "as predicted" from the East except for about 12 hours towards the end of the Gulf crossing when it was light and from the south to south east. The swell "as expected" also from the East but there was some protection from the lee of Cape York once we were most of the way across 2) I learned about current, particularly what happens when wind and current are opposed and the depth suddenly changes, planning which/when tack was heavily influenced by the current. Going through the Cumberland Strait between the Wessel Islands we had about 7knots of current with us. 3) After departing Darwin took a break from windward beating by overnight anchoring at Popham Bay then North Goulburn Island then North West Crocodile Island before reaching Gove. 4) Could get the cat to point ok around 35degrees with plenty of speed but the leeway (skidding sideways) led to over the ground tacking angles of between 95 and 110 degrees depending on the current, the leeway was improved by using the leeward hull engine. I am thinking there was less leeway and maybe even slightly better VMG by sailing at 45-50 degrees to the wind but have not checked the tracks to verify this. Did not have a small flat jib to test but motor sailing at 20deg wind angle was a good option for optimum VMG, provided there was not too much swell, ugg what to say about punching into swell not much fun on a cat but we did it and it was ok 5) We provisioned at Gove, the Sailing Club and safe anchorage is about 6km out of town, can get water ok from the Club but fuel was via filling our jerry cans at town servo and assistance from very friendly locals. Can get fuel at Thursday Island, again this was via 20L plastic jerry cans, actually filled these up at Horne Island which is opposite Thursday Island and the more protected anchorage. Apparently, the winds are more favourable next month in November but we did not have that luxury. Conclusion, it is possible to sail the average cat upwind for hundreds of miles if you have to, but not recommended I assume "performance cats" with centreboards and narrower hulls do better. I must say though, the cat comfort level was astounding.
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