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Gulf of Carpentaria

2 July 2006, S10 54', E139 01'

Local frieghter at Seisia, Cape York Peninsula
A local freighter stops unloads at the dock
at Seisia, on the Cape York Peninsula.

Dear Friends and Family,

It's 4 PM and we're 30-some hours out of Seisia on the York Peninsula, sailing due west across the top of Australia.  We lost sight of land yesterday morning and have been sailing in the company of brown boobies, Arctic terns, flying fish, and most wonderfully - a school of about 50 False Killer Whales who leapt and dove and played in our bow wave and beside Ocelot for about 30 minutes this morning.  These beautiful 15-19' (5-6m) mammals are darker than the Orcas that we know in the Pacific Northwest, with smaller dorsal fins, rounded black heads and almost indistinguishable gray markings from chin to belly.  Amanda got a short video clip showing 5 or 6 at a time leaping from the waves.  Fantastic!

A freighter off Ocelot's bow in the Gulf of Carpentaria
A Spar freighter crosses our
bow in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

We had the fishing lines out all day yesterday, but when we went to pull them in we'd lost one full lure, hook and leader, and the other side was gouged with teeth marks.  Then we read how false killer whales are known for taking large fish off baited lines...  Hmmmm.  Bon appetite!

Yesterday saw sunny skies and a beautiful sailing breeze of 15-20 knots astern so that we ran wing-and-wing (sails to each side) all day and night.  You're never lonely for human voices on the coast of Australia -- their Customs Coast Watch planes pass overhead and you can hear the officers calling other sailboats and merchant vessels near by.  They do keep close tabs on who approaches and leaves their shores!

Today has been a day of rainbows, light drizzle, sunshine and more variable winds, but we have now covered 194 miles towards the Wessell Islands, which lie along our path en route to Darwin.  If we get there in daylight tomorrow (another 137 miles to go) we'll probably stop for the night.  We have been lucky so far with the weather, as boats who made this passage before us referred to it as the "washing machine."

Fair winds and calm seas -- Sue, Jon, Amanda

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