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Old 29-01-2018, 16:54   #1
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Cruising routes and advice from Melbourne to cairns and then to Malaysia and Thailand

Hi guys,
We are by no means professional sailors or cruisers, we are actually very new to this, many of you will say we arenít ready to go on big trips and to be fair we probably are not as ready as a lot of other people.
All that aside we need some advice on getting from Melbourne to cairns, and then from cairns to Thailand, Like times to leave, safest and easiest routes and so fourth. Iím guessing this has been done quite a few times and I have read a few things about people doing these trips, but some first hand tips, stories and encounters would be amazing too.

Thanks in advance guys.
Ps. We own a beneteau first 45, she has been set up for cruising if this helps at all..
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Old 29-01-2018, 22:45   #2
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Re: Cruising routes and advice from Melbourne to cairns and then to Malaysia and Thai

Melbourne to Cairns is easy. Turn left.

We left mid April last year, got to Brisbane end of May. EAC wasn't too bad, SE winds were useful but not constant.
Longest leg we did was from the 'prom to Eden which took us ~38 hours, but we motored quite slowly for the first day and night. We decided to do it over 2 nights rather than try and do it in one, once that choice was made there was no rush.

NSW coast we mainly did in overnight hops of 100 to 160 miles, then took our time at each of the ports. This lets you avoid all the bar ways.

Sailing into Sydney early May was cold. Would have been more pleasant to have been 4 weeks earlier on our trip. But other folks didn't leave Melbourne until late May, and sailed through to Southport in a couple of weeks. Depends how fast you want to go really - your boat would be faster than any of the folk we cruised with.

Only place we had a significant wait for weather was to go through the Wide Bay Bar. But I don't like bars, so we did wait until it was dead flat.

With 1.9m draft we needed to time the tides well both from Southport to Morton bay, then inside Fraser Island. Deepest keel we talked to who took the inside route in these two areas was 2.2m We touched a couple of times with 1.9m draft.

Fraser to Cairns would be another 2 weeks minimum - but there are so many cool islands and atolls to stop at, you'll want to take longer. We took a month to get to Bowen, but that was with almost all day sails. Lady Musgrave / Fitzroy / Hardy reefs were our favorite anchorages. Hardy will be a bit nerve wracking with your draft and beam.

Assuming you are going across the top of Australia and then up the Java sea / South China sea, you'll probably want to be up near Singapore by late November to avoid weather, although I've spent time in the Java sea in early November without any issues. Suspect you'll need to motor a lot, I've only been through there on a trawler.

You could probably leave anytime late Summer, and have a comfortable and relaxed trip.

Sounds like fun. Wish I could go.


Oh - it was my partners first time out through the heads on a sailboat when we left last year. Take your time and watch the weather and it's all pretty relaxing up the coast.
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Old 29-01-2018, 22:59   #3
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Re: Cruising routes and advice from Melbourne to cairns and then to Malaysia and Thai

You could join the Darwin to Indonesia rally or the Darwin to East Timor rally?
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Old 30-01-2018, 17:19   #4
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Re: Cruising routes and advice from Melbourne to cairns and then to Malaysia and Thai

Hello, Cal,

Our boat draws 2.2 m. We have gone in Wide Bay Bar and come out, many times, and taken the interior route to Hervey Bay. So, it is definitely doable. It is our preference to set ourselves up to catch a daylight morning tide to do it, and we have put up with the roll at the Double Island Point anchorage to do it. Ymmv. The main point is, it's doable, on a rising tide, past mid tide, for your boat.

Also, just my opinion, but WBB is made much easier by the common knowledge of its coordinates for a safe entry. The bar changes, so it is wise (a) to get instructions and current coordinates from Coast Guard Tin Can Bay, and (b) do it the first time in good light conditions, not the late afternoon, when the sun will be in your eyes. You can see the edges, with their agitated water, and you stay out of that.

However, if you are running later than you planned, and have a drop dead date in Darwin, then you can safely go outside Fraser Island, giving Breaksea Spit a wide offing, as there is often a strong on shore set there, and get quite a long way further, to use all the hours in the day.

We like the Alan Lucas cruising guides, Alan's pov is very conservative, and he's done all the soundings himself. He shows routes into the barred entries in NSW, and we've been in most of them that will accommodate our draft.

Generally, we prefer to travel with the wind, and once it is favorable, will do overnighters as required by the wind, then stop somewhere to wait for the next favorable wind. You may not be able to do that if you wind up being late in the season, but where possible, do try to take advantage of favorable winds.

Have a lovely cruise,

Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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