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Arafura Sea

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The top end of Australia as it is called by those living down south, or van Arnhiem land at the northerners call it, is very primitive.   This is part of the country, aside from the occasional bauxite or uranium mine, there is little sign of European presence.  From Darwin to Nulumbuy has just about all been completely set aside as an aboriginal reserve.  Non-aboriginal are not allowed to enter except with prior permission and that is apparently hard to get.

From the coast, the land looks much like it probably did 200 years ago when the Dutch first explored the coast.  The only tell-tales of modern technology were the occasional radio antenna sticking up through the trees indicating and aboriginal settlement or farm.  In this part of the country there are no phone or power lines.  Short-wave radio is the only means of communications.

Trying to get across, we were about two weeks early to catch the good winds.  Instead, we spent four days, pounding into a 20 knot east wind.  The wind would blow from the east in the morning and then back to the northeast in the afternoon.  We tried to take advantage of this by tacking NE in the early morning and then southeast in the afternoon.  This worked fairly well, except that on reaching the Wessel Island on the eastern end of van Damien Gulf we too far south to make Hole-in-the-Wall, the preferred passage through the Wessel Islands in to the Gulf of Carpentiera.  Instead of spending a day motoring straight into the wind, the Capt'n made the decision to take a passage just north of Elcho island and then cut through the Company Islands.  This would have worked fine except....

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Last modified: February 01, 2009