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Old 10-18-2007, 02:29 AM   #1
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I am planning to undertake the epic voyage from Cairns to Melbourne mid November and am after some advice on what is the best course down, where to stop, purchase fuel ect.

I am sailing a 38' Roberts Steel Hull Sloop and weather pending expect to take 3 to 4 weeks.

Any pointers or advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:45 AM   #2
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Starting in Mid November you have a bit of a double edged sword on your trip. The weather can be expected to be pretty good both north and south, but probably for the first half of your trip your prevailing winds are going to be south-easterlies. Then, by about the time you're past Wide Bay or Moreton Bay, they will swing around and become predominantly north westerlies. I just finished a Ballina to Sydney run and we had 25 knot north westers up our tail for the first half of the trip -- explains why we managed the distance in a little over two days.

So you'll be beating into it as you come down the Qld coast but then as you get into NSW waters you'll be fine, running with it.

Keep watch on the HF regularly for weather forecasts, you may have to get a list of the frequencies that VMC broadcast on and change frequency a bit during the day / night to get a good hit. Conditions can be quite changeable this time of year. Also go to the Bluelink web site before you head off and take a look at the current map -- if you can get far enough off the coast in the second half of the trip you may have anything up to 2 knots of EAC pushing you along as well.

Stopping spots on the way down -- well you have to stop somewhere in the Whitsundays, and if you are there from about the 16th onwards hail me on HF or VHF (call sign VJN 3212 or boat name Chiara Stella) and we can catch up. Other than that I'd probably find somewhere in Wide Bay, Fraser Island, I'd skip Moreton Bay and go over the bar to Southport, and then down the NSW coast I've found the best stopping off spot is Coffs Harbour (no bar, easy to get into and out of, although the marina there is a little cramped).

Fair winds,


= New South Wales, Queensland,
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Old 10-18-2007, 01:25 PM   #3
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Another weather tool, if you have reasonable internet access, is Grib files. *I am a recent convert to using these to help plan trips, and we found them to be exceptionally helpful while cruising the Baltic this past summer.


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Old 10-18-2007, 11:19 PM   #4
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With the change of northern seasons from the 'dry' to the 'wet', the prevailing north westerlies will intermittently die, meaning you may need to motor across fairly calm seas. These intermittent NW winds will give way to northerlies along the tropical coast which will give you good speed and conditions as you head south.

The problem with the northerly winds is the short time they will blow for, before the south east trades set in for the winter. You need to be ready to go at short notice to take advantage of good winds which have now started blowing spasmodically across the top end, allowing boats to begin the W to E crossing between Darwin and Cairns without the worry of short steep seas on the nose as they sail across the Carpentaria gulf. The northerlies will however, be a distant memory by the first week in December.

This means you will need to sail 'uphill' in strong, relentless winds which will come across your port bow as you make your way south. During that portion of your journey inside the Great Barrier Reef you will not have big seas, despite the wind, and you will find plenty of late afternoon anchorages which will be pleasant on deck...but which will appear to rage around your mast top. But, thankfully, this will only enhance a decent feed and a few coldies as you toast the sunset.

Enjoy your trip.


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Old 10-19-2007, 12:36 AM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2007
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I'd suggest buying a coasttal cruising guide to help passage planning, esp for the stretch along northern NSW.

The problem is that several river entries have bars, and when you most need a harbour (due to strong winds) they are too dangerous to enter and/or tide limited. This leaves longish gaps between reliable harbours.

This means either:

- waiting out potentially adverse weather so you will not have a big swell over bars; or

- being prepared to stay out at sea and do a long hop between ports if the weather turns bad.

3 -4 weeks might be optimistic (unless you are sailing most nights).

enjoy your trip

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Old 10-19-2007, 02:50 AM   #6
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Grib Files are very useful - many cruisers who are users of winlink, sailmail are using the program.

One caveat :- The Grib.US program is 2.630 Mb - however it needs MS's Framework.v 2.0 to function close to around 100 Mb

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Old 09-26-2008, 09:30 PM   #7
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Hi Everyone,

Can I add seabreeze.com.au as a suggestion. I will be sailing from Coffs Harbour end Oct down to Sydney then across to WA. in my Swanson 32 JAMEL

Wireless broadband is the way to go if you are coasting, Telstra do brouser packs for Next G mobile phones ( $59 for 200MB download / 30 days ) We found this was ideal for weather imfo and emails + a little browsing each day, monitor daily use to about 6MB, this allows for Grib, bom coastal forcast, 4 day synopsis chart (bom) & seabreeze.
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Old 10-06-2008, 03:45 AM   #8
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Hi all,

As you can see I am a newbie here, I did the passage from Hamilton Island to Sydney a month a go. Great trip.

I was amazed at how good the Telstra network worked.

We had connection from north end of Fraser Is (on the outside) to Sydney, we followed the rhumb lines outside all islands from Fraser.

I have a medium gain antenna for my Mobile that I used as a modem on my PC for downloading and surfing net.

I have just bought a new antenna that should be even better.

We stopped at Mackay and Mooloolaba, both easy stops and not far out of the way.

Good luck with the trip and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did ours.


Phantom 40


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cairns, melbourne

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