Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 10, 2008 - Darwin Dash, Day 13

According to our cruising guide for this area, we should be blasting along through swell-free seas. "Because the Cape York Peninsula is to windward . . . , sailing under its lee is one of life's great experiences."

What a crock. The combination of 25-30 knot winds, shallow waters, tidal currents, and the long fetch across the Gulf of Carpentaria creates a washing machine of confused seas. There is no rhythm here. Mata'irea is getting tossed around like a toy boat in a spa. Cushions won't stay in place. Bottles, pans and plates are clanging around in the lockers. Waves keep hosing down the cockpit and its occupants.

While on watch last night I noticed a bird flying around our transom. I realized after a few minutes that it was trying to find a place to land to ride out these nasty conditions. It briefly alighted on the life sling, but flew off after a few minutes. I figured it was off to find a boat that wasn't jerking up and down and twisting from side to side like a bucking bronco. But a couple minutes later it was back. This time it tried the top of the BBQ, but found that to be too slippery. Then it landed on the bimini. I told it that as long as it could comply with Mata'irea's No Pooping On The Bimini Rule, it was welcome to catch a ride. In the morning I discovered that our overnight guest had terrible manners. Not only did he fail to abide by the NPOTB Rule, he left little gouges in the bimini where he had dug in with his claws to hold on as we bucked and kicked our way West through the night.

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