"Arctracer" Letters

Through the Torres Strait, July 2005

On the 13th of July we rounded Cape York at the top of the Australian east coast. We were a little concerned about currents in the Torres Strait, but had no problems and enjoyed a nice sail through the Albany Passage which is notorious for its currents too. In the passage we caught a 3' tuna and had caught one earlier in the day too. In fact we couldn't believe all the fish we saw jumping all day and the birds that were working the baitfish near them! We'd never seen anything like it!

We stopped in Seisia, a small community of Torres Strait Islanders who left their island several years ago because of flooding, now the port for ferries connecting to Thursday Island. Since the Wet season is over the campgrounds in town are busy with tourists who have crossed rivers in their 4WD vehicles to tour the area with its two Torres Strait Islander villages, several Aboriginal villages, huge termite mounds, and good fishing for barramundi in the tropical rivers. The southeast winds became quite strong for a week, so we stayed in the protected harbor. We filled our water tanks from taps ashore at the camping areas, bought fresh fruit and vegetables, and took walks.

We met a wonderful couple here at the top of the Cape York Peninsula. What stories they told of hunting wild pigs, climbing trees to avoid attacking wild pigs, being attacked by a bull (probably originally from Goa in India) which they shot in self-defense, surviving cyclones in the rivers that drain into the Gulf of Carpenteria, surviving lightning storms during "The Wet" (December - April), finding many things on beaches including Aboriginal artifacts, canoes of all sizes that float in from Indonesia during the northwest monsoon, dugong tusks, bones and teeth, losing friends to crocs, etc. They have a trimaran named "Hawk" that they have lived on for 11 years. They buy some things at the small local supermarket here in the village of Seisia , but mostly they fax big orders to a supermarket in Cairns a couple of times a year and pay for shipping to Seisia. There are 3 ships that stop here every week to deliver all kinds of things. Groceries are VERY expensive so we haven't bought many, but the things we've bought are worth the extravagant prices to us.

These friends, Karen and Kevin, took us on a 4-hour tour of some of the peninsula in their 4WD vehicle. Some Aussies on another boat joined the tour too. In fact, there are two boats we've been travelling with since Lizard Island and we have all been waiting for the 25-30 knot winds to subside here before heading on towards Darwin. It looks like we'll be moving again tomorrow, after a wonderful 10 days here in Seisia. Kevin and Karen also took us for a 4-hour walk on Red Island, on the north side of the harbour. We saw a WWII gun emplacement at the top of the highest hill on the island, some camps used by the locals to fish, and we collected oysters to have at a get-together tonight on their trimaran.

(view Seisia photos)

We plan to leave tomorrow morning, July 25th, to cross the Gulf of Carpenteria. We'll go across the top of the Gulf to the Wessel Islands, and then along the coast of the Northern Territory to Darwin, now only 740 miles away.