AUSTRALIA - DARWIN

July 8, 2006

Arriving mid afternoon, we anchored in Fanny Bay, a large peaceful anchorage just in front of the popular local Yacht Club, with the skyline of Darwin behind. 

We were somewhat apprehensive about the crocodiles reportedly living in the area, reinforced by the signage on shore. Every year they remove up to 300 crocodiles from Fanny Bay and relocate them! We were also anticipating problems landing our dinghy on the beach because of the huge tidal range that can vary over 10 meters!


High tidal range in Darwin left the dinghy high and dry or you had to swim for it!

The first evening we all met for a cold beer and dinner at the Darwin Sailing Club, which became a regular watering hole and meeting spot for the cruisers. The outdoor casual eating area was a prime spot to watch Darwin's glorious sunsets.

Our 2 weeks in Darwin were very busy with check-in, check out procedures, other Oz government Quarantine procedures (deRATting certificate (yes, for rats!) and lots of rally activities.

July 9 Today's headline: 2 Boys Stalked by Giant Croc

We checked out the Craft Market with Bob & Becky. There were a large range of crafty items for sale but not much produce. It was amazing the gigantic crowd in attendance for this weekly market. Later, I did a huge load of laundry at the Laundromat. Since it was Sunday the town was pretty much closed up so no shopping today.

July 10 Cullen Bay Marina

We had made arrangements to move the boat to Cullen Bay marina. Because of the huge tides, transiting a lock is required to enter the marina, which is a completely enclosed lagoon surrounded by prosperous homes and private docks. Before entering the locks we were required to have our bottom checked by quarantine and also we had to have a chemical poured into all our thru hulls. The chemical needed to remain in the lines for 18 hours, which meant no use of head or water. This procedure is mandatory to control mussels being brought into the lagoon.

We rafted to a large powerboat at the dock outside the lock where the diver examined the bottom and the chemical was poured into the lines. We stayed on the boat at the dock overnight and began the process of going through the locks first thing the following morning.

Thru the Locks

As the large metal door creaked open we proceeded to tie Ascension up against the steep concrete wall. We shared the lock with another boat, Cool Change, from Canada, in fact, from Kelowna! It was our first meeting. Then the huge doors closed around us and the water level began to rise as the lock was filled to the level of the lagoon. After about 10 minutes and after we had been elevated about 15 feet, the doors opened once again and we entered the marina

Although the main part of the marina is very upscale with beautiful concrete docks (pic left), the only spot available for us was amidst the fishing boats at the far end of the marina. (pic right)

July 12 Today's Headline: 8 Year Old Girl missing, Croc attack assumed

We spent most of the day at Government offices. Clearing in to Darwin, making arrangements to check out again, arranging for duty free fuel, applying for our Indonesia Visas, Indo Sailing Permits (CAIT), getting passport photos, copying and sorting charts and documents, and of course the seemingly endless task of provisioning.

Another chore we had was to make an appointment with the Travel Doctor to have our Typhoid booster shots. We also got Tetanus and Polio boosters but opted out for a course of Malaria prophylactics during our stay in Indonesia. This turned out to be a wise decision as the Malaria meds cause susceptibility to sun damage and results in queasiness. We did not have any problems with mosquitoes anywhere in Indonesia.

Gord visited the Skin Alert Center to check out a sore on his arm that had not healed for several months. A biopsy was done and the results were negative for melanoma and negative for the pocketbook ($250!) but it was reassuring to know everything was okay.

That evening there was a Rally Meeting and we were given handouts, CD's and info on Sail Indonesia.

July 13 Today's Headline: Remains of 8 Year Old Girl Found

We were awoken before 5 am by all the fisherman around us, preparing their boats for the day's charter, noisily going about their business as they probably had been doing for years before we came along and tried to sleep through the racket. By 6 am they had left the docks headed out to sea and we were wide awake!

There was LOTS of boat repairs to be done and many days were spend searching for parts, and trying to contact businesses to find qualified repairmen. trying to get anything done in Darwin was frustrating. NT (Northern Territories) stands for Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Not Tuesday, Not Thursday! We were happy to be in a marina, and shared the use of Stardust's car to run around.

Not the Best of Facilities

In the evening I wove my way through the patrons in the restaurant above our dock to use the shower assigned to us. Although I had a key there appeared to be no lock on the door. The small open room had a toilet and open shower stall, no curtain, no privacy if someone should happen through the unlocked door. However, the biggest problem was the 18 speed bike parked in the shower stall, it's muddy wheels having left a puddle of guck all over the floor. I decided I really would like a shower and moved the bike, got undressed (one hand on the door) and gingerly stepped into the shower. But the water was icy cold! We weren't exactly getting a deal on moorage in the "cheap fisherman seats" so from then on, I walked the 1 km or so to the facilities offered to the main marina patrons.

July 14 Today's Headlines: Crocodile Takes Fisherman


Rally BBQ

We attended the free Rally Dinner at the Fanny Bay Yacht Club and received more handouts, T-shirts and other paraphernalia. Everyone was in attendance and it was good to see new faces in addition to ones we hadn't seen since Queensland.

July 15 Despite our full schedule of activities, we arranged to borrow Bob & Becky's car for an overnight trip to Kakadu.

July 16 Dinah Beach Dancing

Almost all the rally participants showed up at the Dinah Beach Yacht Club for a free BBQ dinner. Dinah Beach is an open air casual club, a band playing and drinks flowing. After a very lengthily wait in a line-up for dinner we all got into the dancing. I soon abandoned my flip flops that were restricting my chucking and jiving but ended up with a cut in my foot that, after 3 months, still had not healed!

We partied until the wee hours of the morning and had a lot of fun!

July 17 Information Seminar

We spent most of the day attending the Information Seminar at the Hotel in Darwin. There were lots of handouts, some T-shirts and speeches from Reps from some of the rally destinations. Unfortunately many of us were disappointed that we did not get more information pertinent to sailing and the location of anchorages as most of the information we received was a merely a sales pitch for expensive marinas.


July 18, 2006

We took a drive around Darwin, past Fanny Bay to a park where kangaroos hung out. The tide was out and from the park it was really evident how large the tidal flats were.

The red soil around Darwin is a remarkable sight. We could see the anchorage and the city across the bay. As we drove on we came upon s sign that prohibited everything but wallabies. It was not long before we saw several grazing in a field.

Back at the Yacht Club we enjoyed a drink while watching another dazzling sunset.

Ginny's Birthday

July 19, 2006

We had a great birthday celebration on Stardust with Bob, Becky, Tracy (Becky's daughter) Annie, Liam and Gord. Becky baked me a cake and I received cards and gifts from several friends. The most prized gift was 3 cans of chicken and 3 cans of beef from Becky. Wow, have I succumbed to full fledged cruiser mentality or what!


There was A LOT of candles and I must admit I had a hard time blowing them out!

July 20  Bob, Becky, Tracy, Gord and I left at sparrows and headed to Litchfield National Park to enjoy the day. 

Becoming a Millionaire

A trip to the bank to exchange Australian dollars for Indonesian rupiahs made us instant millionaires!! $150 Australian dollars returned about $1,400,000 rupiahs. With 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000 and 50,000 notes you pretty much need a wheelbarrow to carry all the bills!

July 21 This was the day for last minute preparations, provisioning and getting ready for departure to Indonesia. I was treated to a great sunset over the beach at Darwin, a wonderful sendoff to depart Australia with!