Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gove and beyond

Finally it took us less than 72 hours to get to Gove. Considering the
lack of wind, this is more satisfying than anything else. We used the
engine a total of 19 hours and we came in under sail in Gove harbour,
right in front of the yacht club.Wonderful bay, extremely well
protected, lots of fellow yachtmen on their way west, and all the
necessary facilities (water, fuel, showers, laundry and a bar at the
yacht club). We did not have to anchor as there were lots of moorings.
During our stay, we jugged in on almost 60 gallons of water but we did
not take fuel as it would have meant staying an extra day, the fuel dock
being occupied with barges bringing in supplies for the town.
On Monday, we went to town, hitching a ride on the way out and being
picked up by an 18 wheeler. The town is entirely new, well organised,
small but with all the amenities, and looking like it was set up to
house all the expatriates attracted by the mining operation and the
associated services. There are aboriginal people wandering around the
post office, but they do not look very busy and they are probably, for a
great majority of them, on some kind of welfare system.
Typical of Australia, although it is a very small town, there are 3
liquor stores, not including the one at the yacht club. The consumption
of alcohol is heavily controlled and regulated. I had to get a permit,
with photo and all, to have the right to purchase alcohol. And the
quantity and quality of what you purchase is regulated. We are aware of
the alcohol problem in the area, but still, it feels a very strange way
of providing freedom.
The supermarket is very well stocked but very expensive too. I did not
study the prices in detail, but I would say, looking at the total cost
of the provisions that we took that it is almost double the price of
food in Cairns.
While in town I also decided to purchase a Telstra 3G USB key to connect
to internet. A 6 giga prepaid modem cost around $130 but since there was
no hope to get any connection otherwise before Darwin, I decided to bite
the bullet. It turned out to be almost a death sentence for my Mac
computer which became totally confused having Vodafone and Telstra
installed at the same time. In the end, I was able to get the Mac
working, having lost all my preferences and bookmarks, and unable to
install the Telstra modem.
On the Toshiba and the boat computer, things were not as bad since
having learned a lesson the painful way, we made sure to eliminate
anything Vodafone on the machines before installing Telstra.
I was able to get my mail from the "brisegalets@mac.com" address on the
boat computer, but that's about all I was able to achieve before we left
for Elisabeth bay, our first stop. What a waste ! Part of the cost of
cruising in these parts, I suppose.
We left Gove at 8:20 a.m., one hour behind Amulet, headed for the same
spot. At first we have almost no wind, but as soon as we cleared land we
got around 15 knots of wind, and with the gennaker up, we managed to
drop the hood in Elisabeth bay at the same time as Amulet, aftet 26
miles of sailing. Great satisfaction !
Tomorrow, it is going to be the Hole in the Wall, with 10 knots of
current if you get there at mid tide, and we will be leaving in order to
get there at the first hour of the ebb tide.

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