Thursday, 25 July 2013

Darwin - the last Ozzie post

After 2 days anchored in Fannie Bay, we were off into Tipperary Marina for 2 weeks and were looking forward to having laundry, restaurants, long showers and television at hand. We made our way past Darwin Harbour - avoiding the Dawn Princess pulling out for a cruise, then up the river, at times with very little water showing under the keel, and eventually found the marina entrance. It looked so narrow and we held our breath as we entered the lock. Oh so squeezy !!!! But we managed without incident and once in, it was a quick left turn into the pen. It was much like being moored outside someone's  front door with units and apartments all around - quite a small marina. This was to be our last one for a while so we were to make the most of it. Tintin were right behind us and once again we were neighbours. There were also about a dozen other boats from the rally in Tipperary with us and a good opportunity to get to know them.
The morning scheds daily at 8.10am is a great way to hear what is going on. It is run by some of the other rally participants and covers a multitude of topics from weather, tides, what's on in Darwin, rally events to attend, treasures of the bilge to sell or swap, and much more. The key is to wake in time to turn on the VHF. Such is retirement !!!
The following day was Darwin's infamous Beer Can Regatta so what better way to celebrate my birthday. Off we headed on the bus back towards Fannie Bay and a beach full of home made craft of all shapes and sizes. It must take a whole year to save the beer cans for the construction of these boats. It was a festive occasion with the Mindil Markets running all day. A couple of hours was enough for us and we opted to walk home taking a short cut through the Botanic Gardens. That evening we joined Jacqui and Kevin for dinner at The Verandah restaurant and had a lovely meal. All in all, a great day. The weekend over, Monday we had to start on serious stuff.

               Sunset from the Darwin Sailing Club

Boat made from beer cars

                                                                    Another effort

     Celebrating my birthday with Jacqui & Kevin at The Verandah Restaurant

In Tipperary Waters Marina - like being moored at someone's front door.

What seems like a very narrow lock in and out of the marina.

The last sunset before we head out of Australian waters  :-(

The bus stopped out the front of the marina & made tripping into town (only a 5 min ride) most convenient, however Darwin buses and their drivers are something to experience - often  running ahead of time. The earliest we caught the 8.25am was 8.16am ....... they don't wait for their scheduled time so it pays to be at the bus stop early or miss the bus. To say the drivers were generally grumpy is an understatement. I think it must be the heat - hate to think what they would be like in Summer.
The first day was spent with Customs and the Indonesian Embassy organising visas, which would take a week to process. That ticked off the list, we started on jobs. 2 days were spent cleaning Kittani - encrusted salt off  everything topside and a thorough wiping down below deck. The weather was hot and humid so we worked early mornings and later in the day, with the middle hours spent relaxing, reading and staying cool. Pete serviced the engine, oil change, new filters, new stern light, new davit sheets, he was kept busy. The days seemed to fly past with trips into town every second day, book exchange, Indonesian currency to arrange and bits and pieces of provisioning. We had the use of a car for one day at the end of Tintin's trip to Kakadu and Litchfield and headed off to the supermarket to get some bulk stores. After an hour, we met back in the car park, our 2 shopping  trolleys level and Tintin's 2 trolleys overflowing. That with the 4 of us to fit into a little Corolla - what a challenge. We managed to get everything in, though Pete and myself in the back seat could not see out of the windows and the rear view mirror was useless. Thankfully we didn't have far to go. I think we set a new record of 'how much can you fit into a Corolla?'
Each Friday evening the marina held a bar-b-que and it was a great chance to meet some of the other participants. The Lock master Keith had done the rally twice before, the last one in 2012 so he was a mine of information. After dinner we had question time and chatted about what to expect with clearing in, what we could and could not readily get, local currents and impact on sailing, what to expect with wind or lack there of, all interesting stuff.
Saturday evening was the welcome bar-b-que at the Darwin Sailing Club with all participants to attend. It was a great evening, good food and lots of laughs.
The 2 weeks went so quickly and we were out through the lock this morning heading to Cullen Bay to re-fuel and then on to Fannie Bay for the last few nights before the rally officially starts on Saturday. Tomorrow is the compulsory briefing in town for 4 hours, then customs clear us out on Friday, collect our cruising permits for Indonesia and we are off. We are as ship-shape as we can be and ready to start the next stage of our adventure. :-)

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