Torres Strait

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WorldAustraliaTorres Strait
Torres Strait
Torres channels.png
Map of of some of the southern channels of Torres Strait, in the vicinity of Thursday Island, Prince of Wales Channel and Endeavour Strait


The Torres Strait is the body of water lying between the northern tip of Queensland, Australia (known as the Cape York Peninsula) and Papua New Guinea. It contains many islands known as the Torres Strait Islands, most of which are Australian territory.


Australian Hydrographic Office
Aus292 -- Australia Torres Strait - Queensland - Adolphus Channel to Prince of Wales Channel (1:75000)
Aus293 -- Australia North Coast - Torres Strait - Prince of Wales Channel (1:37500)
Aus294 -- Australia - North Coast - Torres Strait - Endeavour Strait (1:75000)
Aus296 -- Australia North Coast - Torres Strait - Prince of Wales Channel to Varzvin Passage (1:37500)
Aus297 -- Great North East Channel - Basilisk Passage to Moon Passage (1:50000)
Aus299 -- Australia North Coast - Torres Strait - Approaches to Thursday Island (1:12500)

Note that all of the above paper charts are available in S63 electronic (vector) format:

There are many shallows, banks, and reefs within the Torres Strait. Although the main shipping passages are well marked, anyone venturing into the region for the first time would be well advised to have reliable and accurate charts.


Expect hot and moist tropical weather for most of the year. The cyclone season runs from November or December through to about April. The SE trade winds run through the strait from about April to November, and can be quite strong.

Sources for Weather forecasts:

Weather Windows

The cyclone season runs from November to April, and without extensive local knowledge the area is best avoided at this time.

The best time of year for an east to west passage is during the months of April through to September. The prevailing winds are often reversed prior to (and during) the cyclone season, and so a west to east passage is often best attempted in October and November. Be prepared to sit and wait for wind shifts if necessary.


Add any navigation notes such approaches, dangers etc here. If this section does not apply remove it.


Sheila Net on 8161kHz at 2200UTC (0800 Australian Eastern Standard Time) is the most active radio net covering this region.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Possible Departure Points

Route/Suggested Stopovers

The Torres Strait is most frequently used as part of a passage between Darwin in the Northern Territory and ports in Queensland such as Cairns, Port Douglas and places further south. Depending on the time of year it can be used to pass either way -- see the weather notes above.

All of the way north inside the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, past Port Douglas, up the coast of the Cape York Peninsula and through the Torres Strait there is a two way channel (route) marked on the charts of the area. Although sticking to the channel will very much ensure that you do not run aground on any of the shoals both in the Torres Strait and elsewhere inside the reef, be aware that this channel is used for shipping as well as yachts.

The channel is two way, with no traffic separation scheme in place. Pilot boats operate in the channel and can be seen guiding some of the larger shipping through the channel.

A constant visual watch must be maintained while following this route, and a listening watch on VHF 16 is also mandatory.

Although the route itself runs through the Prince of Wales Channel inside the Torres Strait, it's also possible for a sailing vessel to pass through the shallower but wider waters of the Endeavour Strait to the south of the channel. Be aware of shoal patches on the western end of the Endeavour Strait and you should be OK.

A second, deep water route runs around the outside of the Great Barrier Reef. Known as Pandora Passage it is more frequently used by large vessels travelling to and from points south of the reef such as Sydney or Auckland. The passage passes around East Cay at the north eastern end of the Torres Strait, then heads via the Great North East Channel in a south westerly direction meeting up with the main route through Prince of Wales Channel. There are pilot vessel boarding points at each end of the route between East Cay and Prince of Wales.

  1. Starting from:
    1. Cairns/wiki/Torres_Strait#.5B.5BCairns.5D.5DHarbour icon Cairns [[Torres Strait#Cairns|Cairns]] 16°55.500'S, 145°46.500'E or
    2. Port Douglas/wiki/Torres_Strait#.5B.5BPort_Douglas.5D.5DHarbour icon Port Douglas [[Torres Strait#Port Douglas|Port Douglas]] 16°29.250'S, 145°27.500'E or
    3. Gove/wiki/Torres_Strait#.5B.5BGove.5D.5DHarbour icon Gove [[Torres Strait#Gove|Gove]] 12°11.950'S, 136°42.270'E
  2. Finally after xx nM you arrive at Darwin/wiki/Torres_Strait#.5B.5BDarwin.5D.5DHarbour icon Darwin [[Torres Strait#Darwin|Darwin]] 12°27.769'S, 130°50.506'E

Possible Arrival Ports

Distance & Duration

Give a distance table if possible.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



See Australia.


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