5 Days before the Mast

The Dismal Swamp newspaper recently advertised “local’s rates” for a 5 day cruise up to some of the Torres Strait Islands. During the wet season (November to April), the weather can be unpredictable, so that’s when we locals are invited to take advantage of the special rate. 

Don’t get too excited, this was not on some luxury cruise ship, but rather the hard-working cargo ship MV Trinity Bay. Here is a recent photo from the company website, showing happy passengers on the lower deck, waving at a passing helicopter. Well, I assume they’re happy, and not signalling to the pilot their desire to be rescued!


The Trinity Bay is one of 27 vessels owned by the Sea Swift shipping company. The fleet delivers a variety of general and refrigerated cargoes to remote communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory. For many people, these ships represent the only way they can obtain needed goods and supplies. (Does that remind anyone of another city that many of  us like?)

The Trinity Bay can carry up to 48 passengers in 15 cabins. There were 26 of us on this trip, which left Cairns on 15 November.

We travelled inside the reef, this  sheltered us from any rough weather that might have been encountered in the Coral Sea. It’s about 1000 km (468 nautical miles) from Cairns to the tip of Cape York.

Our first destination was Horn Island off the tip of Cape York, and just north of Thursday Island, which was the second stop. (REEFVTS represents Reef Vessel Traffic Service.)

Image courtesy of AMSA

Image courtesy of AMSA

Here’s what we saw from the deck, as we waited for the ship to be loaded.


OK, that sets the scene. In my next post, I’ll tell you more about the northbound trip, and the history of Horn Island.


Filed under Australia

32 responses to “5 Days before the Mast

  1. This sounds so interesting Y! I am looking forward to more posts about this trip.


  2. Does Lili realise that something new is happening in your lives?


    • I think she knows I’m going away for a while. I really think that is why all this affection. Lately her fluffy butt has been placed between me and the computer screen and I have to move her to read my email.


  3. Haven’t really begun to pack. Lots of stuff piled in a corner so I don’t forget them but as far as clothes since I’m taking the stuff I wear everyday I’ll need to do laundry first.
    It has been cold enough here that I’ve worn my fur coat to work every day. I did it mainly to see if I would be comfortable taking it to Venice and I am. It is “faux” mink and really warm and toasty. It was about 28 F when I was scraping the ice to go to work this morning.
    I deleted the wake up alarms out of my phone!


  4. In this case, it was the “hottest” stuff, Darlene! 🙂


  5. You do the coolest stuff!!


  6. JoanneH

    What fun! I will be after you for details to make the trip when I hit your shores again mid summer next year


  7. Great! I’m now anticipating the following reports, where you establish a new Cargo Cult in the Far Away Places!


  8. Wow. Quite a voyage Yvonne, but too hot and steamy for you ? …. ha……so you say !! 😉 Ralph xox 😀


  9. Caroline

    How exciting! Much more interesting than a luxury cruise ship. (I’ve always envied a friend who used to travel to and around the West Indies on a banana boat.) Very much looking forward to reading more.

    I’m afriad I’m obviously shamefully ignorant about the geography of that part of the world – I was astonished to find that Australia & Papua New Guinea are so close together.


    • I’m like you, Caroline. I had no idea of what was on my very doorstep. The Torres Strait Islands we visited were a big surprise.

      Is the acqua alta simmered down now?


      • Caroline

        As well as Australia being so near PNG, I was also very interested by your view from the starting point which did quite remind me of St Vincent where I used to go – not at all how I imagine Australia! What sort of temperature & humidity was it?

        After the street being about 6″ under water for about 4 hours on Tuesday, it’s ‘only’ been around 100-105cm at high tide since, but this does seem to be an unusally sustained period at that level. I was lucky it didn’t reach 95 on Monday so I could get to & (more importantly) from the Santa Marta farmers’ market via vaporetto. (The full moon was on Sunday.)


    • Cairns is advertised as “The Gateway to the Tropics”, and is at 16.9256 degrees S, Horn island is 10.6000 degrees S. The temperature at Horn island was about 32 C, with the humidity at 95%. One moves very slowly in conditions like that!

      It does seem you’re making up for lost time with the high water, Caroline! When do school classes end?


  10. T@S

    Thanks for sharing . You spur us on..


  11. The Torres Strait looks interesting!


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