Darwin week 5

Our third road trip after Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks was to Northline Speedway to take in the sprint car action on their clay oval. We spent the last few days in Darwin at anchor in Fannie Bay before heading out across the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf to start the 1,000nm run to Dampier where we will exit Australia to cross the Indian Ocean for Rodrigues, Mauritius.

Trip highlights from Aug 7 through 13 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

HVAC drain line

The HVAC drains on Dirona all run into the central gray water tank. Unfortunately some of the hose runs are not ideal, with almost no fall over substantial horizontal distances. Consequently, they plug easily. The worst offender is the salon system, which has two multi-foot sections with no fall at all. We redesigned the host run to minimize the top flat section, to put a slope into the lower section and to use much larger diameter 22mm rigid hose in the lower section that’s less prone to plugging.
Happy Birthday James!

A birthday breakfast of strawberries and whipped cream over freshly-made waffles.

Fisherman’s Wharf, where we purchased our diesel, does not have gasoline. We were almost empty from the Kimberley trip, so we dropped one of the portable deck tanks and took it out in our rental car to a filling station. When designing the boat, we were initially planning to have a fixed gasoline storage area built-in along with one for new and waste oil. We’re really glad we couldn’t find a solution to locating those, as having portable containers is much more convenient. Being able to get oil, gasoline and diesel all in the same place has been rare on this trip and we’re often having to transport oil and gas a fair distance from where the boat is moored.
Northline Speedway

Northline Speedway signs advertising Saturday night racing caught our attention as we returned into Darwin from our two road trips. Here’s the main attraction, 360 Sprintcars, lining up four-wide “World of Outlaws“-style on the clay oval. The speedway put on a great show and we had a super-fun evening there.

This morning we made a final grocery run for fresh produce to last us through to our first stop in the Indian Ocean at Rodrigues, Mauritius.

The fridge now is looking pretty full.
Locking through

We had an excellent five-week stay in Tipperary Waters Marina, but it’s past time that we return to the wilds. Here we are pulling into the lock that maintains the sufficient depth in the marina while the tide swings through its 25.6 ft (7.8m) range.
Grey water pump

After pumping out the gray water tank at anchor, we found a wet carpet at the foot of the master stateroom stairs and discovered that the gray water had mostly pumped into the bilge rather than overboard. The through-hull outlet had plugged and the pump built up so much head pressure that it actually sprayed water out of the emergency hand pump that’s in series with it. This unfortunately sprayed gray water throughout the area under the stairs where both pumps are mounted. The area was packed with spares, but fortunately none suffered any water damage as they were all in plastic boxes. Getting everything out and drying the area was a bit of a chore though.
Plugged through-hull

The plugged gray water through-hull is well below the water line, so we couldn’t remove the hose to clear it. And we couldn’t dive the boat to due to the crocodile risk. James came up with a solution of closing the through-hull, removing the hose, and installing a temporary hose that extends above the waterline. He then opened the through-hull and used a vacuum in pressure mode to force the obstruction (probably marine growth) out of the through-hull entrance. This successfully cleared the obstruction.
Fannie Bay

The view to downtown Darwin from Fannie Bay. This was a great anchorage and we spent an enjoyable few days here.

Fannie Bay has spectacular sunsets.

A catamaran perched on the drying shallows during the outgoing tide.

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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6 comments on “Darwin week 5
  1. Etienne Grobler says:

    Hi James,

    The plugged through-hull solution was brilliant! Would have taken me a lot longer to figure it out or would have ended as croc bait.

    How is your fuel supply for the 3000 nm cruise? Seems that even with all the bladders you will not have much room for error and I saw on the latest pic showing your pitch that your fuel economy is .98?

    Hope you have a safe and awesome trip.


    • Etienne, the 0.98nm/gal fuel economy number you are looking at was on our way into Danpier when we decided we would rather get in and anchored before dark rather than wait unitl morning. We were running at 200 HP at that point against the second largest tides (and presumably tidal currents) in the world. It’s nice to be able to ignore fuel economy when coastal crusing and we do it fairly frequently.

      On this run, we are averaging 1.35 nm/gallon and, if you see us at much less than 1.27 nm/gal then you know we are planning to row the boat for the tail end of the trip :-)

  2. Stewart Kelly says:

    Let me add my happy birthday wishes too Jim. It looks like you really enjoyed yourself. Sorry to learn about the plumbing issues but thanks for sharing that heads up. I’m sure fouling is an even bigger problem around here due to all the fertilizer nutrients, etc. in the run off into the sea. Wishing you and Jennifer safe seas and great adventures ahead.
    best regards,

    • It was a great birthday. Perhaps the best birthday present for me was to be back on Dirona in a quite marina after 3 super busy weeks back at work in Seattle. I love the work but I’m not back often enough so there is lots to do when I’m in town.

      This morning we checked out of Australia after 15 incredble months. What a memorable time we have had and we hope to be back some day. We particularily liked the Kimberley region.

  3. Pete Jarvis says:


    Happy birthday – the pictures and commentary on the boat are always enjoyable. Anne and I just got back from a long trip down the Rhine and up the Mosul. I should add that your comments on boat organisation came in very handy – thankyou.

    Take care.

    PS. That was fine cat picture.

    • Hi Pete. Thanks for the birthday greetings. It sounds like you had a great river cruise in Germany. We just got started on a much less scenic run where we get to see nothing except open ocean for 3 week and 3005 nm :-).

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