Sailing Story - The Granites - Nhulunbuy, Gove Australia

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    Nhulunbuy - Gove Australia

Cyclone Ingrid
    Gove Yacht Club is a hot spot for yachties traveling to and from Darwin for either a short visit or extended stay, which is often for the purpose of building up the cruising kitty. It is a friendly place which provides all the facilities you need plus great food and plenty of cold beer!

    The town of Nhulunbuy is leased by Alcan for the purpose of bauxite mining and royalties are paid to the traditional land-owners, the Yolgnu Aboriginal people of Northeast Arnhem Land.

Certain areas of land outside the lease are designated as recreation areas and can be accessed by residents of Nhulunbuy. Dhimurru is the Aboriginal organization to contact and they have an office in town.

The yacht club is in Melville Bay, a large anchorage which has good holding in thick mud.

A favorite getaway of ours was the Granite Islands only 3nm’s southwest of the yacht club where you can swim without stingers and enjoy barbeques with friends.

    We spent 6-7 months in Gove Australia, Mike working as a painter (another of his talents) plus some boat repairing, and I worked for the yacht club as toilet cleaner extraordinaire and as the occasional kitchen hand.

    One accomplishment was translating Podiatry information, and in particular, foot care for Diabetics into Yolgnu with the help of many of the local women. Sadly the final stages of this have not yet been completed, as time did not allow. It is hoped this can be remedied in the not too distant future.

    We made many friends there and had a great Xmas party which included swimming in blow-up pools provided by the club, a luxury away from the stingers and crocs! Cyclone Ingrid hit Whimoway whilst I was visiting family in Tasmania.

    She was a Category 4 with a reported wind speed of 120 knots, and the eye passed only 20 kilometres or so north of the town of Nhulunbuy!

    My memories are of a long worrying night waiting for the next text message to come. Mike recalls how all yachts prepared their anchor gear and decisions were made as to who would stay on board. A few yachts moved to another bay whilst the lucky catamarans wound their way up protected inlets.

Whimoway held her ground during the first half whilst Mike was tossed around in the cabin getting attacked by my books! Some yachts dragged past her but then in the final half as the wind direction changed, Mike caught a glimpse of the shore and realized that Whimoway was dragging too.

She was only 30 metres from the rocks at this stage so Mike fired up the Perkins motor and powered on for the next few hours until it abated.

Whimoway has no dodger so Mike was outside with the full force of the wind and rain upon him!

    Several yachts broke away, some ending up on shore. The catamarans were fine but the people who moved bays were bombarded with free flying Indonesian fishing boats which the authorities had moved there the previous day.

    Elizabeth Bay pearl farm was all but destroyed and their crew vessel, brought into Gove Australia for protection, ended up on the rocks where Whimoway was heading. All was well and at least we knew our rigging was strong!

    There is lots to explore around Gove Australia and the fishing is GREAT but it was time to go back to Darwin so we allowed another 4 weeks cruising in Arhnem Land on the way, then we prepared for our trip to Indonesia.

Map Of Nhulunbuy - Gove Australia, Arnhem Land