Darwin week 1

After five weeks in the Kimberley, we returned to Darwin for James to make a three-week trip to the US. You might wonder why we retraced our steps 500 miles to Darwin from the southern Kimberley rather than fly out from much closer Broome. We had initially considered staying there, but it turns out Broome has no marina or reasonable moorage options. And there wasn’t anywhere further south where we felt comfortable leaving the boat for three weeks that was closer than Darwin. In the above photo we are locking through into Tipperary Waters Marina, our home for the next several weeks. All four Darwin marinas are behind locks due to the 25.6 ft (7.8m) tidal range.

Trip highlights from July 6th through 12th follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps


We’re back in Darwin after a reasonably smooth overnight run from Koolama Bay. This is looking south to Whickham Point and the huge flare at the Darwin LNG facility there.
Fisherman’s Wharf

At Fisherman’s Wharf taking on 1,420 gallons of diesel to fill up both our tanks. We barely slipped in on a 7.8ft tide through what is nearly a drying area, and you can see the wharf top towering above us.

We also got rid of some waste oil and picked up two 20L pails of Caltex Delo 15W40 oil to top up our supply. With what we store on board, we can go almost a year without having to pickup oil or dump it.
Approaching lock

All four Darwin marinas are behind locks due to the 25.6 ft (7.8m) tidal range. Here we are nearing the lock for the Tipperary Waters marina. The marina approach dries to nearly two meters at zero tide, so we can only transit the lock on a 13ft (4m) tide or better. This isn’t quite as restrictive as it sounds, as even a neap high tide is above 16ft (5m). So there’d typically be some point during the day, if only for an hour or two around high tide, where we could come through.

We’re entering with about 22 ft (6.7m) of tide near the top of a 21ft (6.4m) exchange. The size of the exchange is generating a significant cross-current near the lock entry. We were on a bit of an angle fighting it until we got into the lee of the rock wall outside the lock.
Locking through

To fit in the lock, a boat can have a maximum 70.5ft (21.5m) length, 9.8ft (3.0m) draft and 19.7ft (6m) beam. It felt pretty tight on the beam going in, but wasn’t quite as bad as we were expecting. We had a good couple of feet to spare on each side as we passed through the entry.
Garbage run

We got out the folding cart and dumped our five weeks of garbage. The marina also has an oil disposal facility.
Tipperary Waters Marina

Moored at Tipperary Waters Marina, our new home for the next few weeks. Beside us is Akitushima III of Japan. The marina is at least half-full with international boats from all over the world. Many will be departing with the Sail Indonesia rally later in the month.
Superted V

Superted V arrived this morning. We’ve not seen Matt and Jean since a brief visit at the Gold Coast.
Fishing boat harbour

Darwin has a fair-sized commercial-fishing fleet that moors in the Frances Bay Fishing Boat Harbour. In addition to the fishing fleet are some charter boats and a number of commercial vessels, such as tugs, with a few pleasure craft mixed among them.

The Frances Bay Fishing Boat Harbour lock is 35m by 15m. We could almost fit in sideways.

Guru is a rather unusual-looking member of the Broadsword Marine fleet. The aluminum catamaran was built in New Zealand, by Profab Marine just north of Wellington, and launched in January 2014. We saw it on sea trails in Wellington shortly before we departed for Fiordland.
Commercial fishing boats

A row of commercial fishing boats were backed in at the south end of the harbour.
Town Hall ruins

You don’t see a lot of old buildings in Darwin. On Christmas Eve of 1974, Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin with 10-minute sustained winds of 175 km/h (110 mph), 1-minute sustained winds of 205 km/h (125 mph) and gusts to 240 km/h (150 mph). 71 people died, and most of the city was destroyed and had to be rebuilt. This is what was left of the original town hall, built in 1883.
The Deck Bar

We had a delicious lunch streetside at the Deck Bar.
Smith Street mall

Darwin has a nice pedestrian mall along Smith Street, with plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or a coffee.

This massive movie projector survived Cyclone Tracy. Most of the movie theater, shown in the photo behind, was destroyed.
Bicentennial Park

After walking around downtown Darwin a bit more, we took the long set of stairs down through leafy vegetation into Darwin’s waterfont Bicentennial Park.
Waterfront Precint

The city of Darwin has done a fabulous job of revitalizing it’s waterfront with hotels, condos, restaurant and swimming areas. A wide pedestrian pathway runs waterside the length of the complex. Plans also are in place to build a lock and marina there.
Recreation Lagoon

The saltwater Recreation Lagoon in the Waterfront Precint provides swimming safe from crocodiles and marine stingers (jellyfish).
Wave Lagoon

The Wave Lagoon was popular on this mid-week afternoon. Here’s a 13-second video of the action: https://youtu.be/LSKvoGvaz-Y.

A Caterpillar service truck was parked by one of the fish boats as we returned back through the Fishing Boat Harbour. Those big boxes are a set of eight replacement piston and cylinder assemblies.

On our overnight return from Koolama Bay to Darwin, the only traffic we saw was Phantom. The vessel passed us in the early evening on a similar course, and likely came from inside the King George River.
Frying Nemo

Dinner at the Frying Nemo with friends old and new. In the background are Jean and Matt Findlay from Superted V. Closest to the camera are Sue and Andy of the Hallberg Rassy 42 Spruce. We’d actually shared anchorages with them in Eden before our Tasmania trip, and a few other places, but hadn’t met in person until here.
Beer Can Regatta

Darwin’s annual Beer Can Regatta at Mindil Beach. The event drew thousands of spectators and some pretty unusual craft built from beer cans.
Zebra rock

Zebra Rock for sale at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. The sedimentary rock, with its distinctive red-brown and white coloring, is found only in the east Kimberley of Western Australia.
Sunset Markets

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets run every Thursday and Sunday evenings. Food stalls of wide ethnic varieties are the main draw, along with craft stalls and live performances. Despite the frequency, the event seems to attract all of Darwin. The parking lot was jammed and the area was incredibly busy.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.

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