Thursday, October 27, 2016

On Top of Oz!

So happy to see the Darwin skyline!
Well, here we are finally at the top of Australia in the capital of the Northern Territory: Darwin. We had been here back in April when we took the Ghan train to Alice Springs for our outback experience. Since we have visited most of the national parks in this area, we did not book any tours over the free weekend like many others who are here for the first time.

The chart makes it look impossible to get into the marina.
You must enter when the tide is at least 4 meters to get across
the mudflats and reefs and into the marina. Challenging!
Darwin is a small but relatively new city. It was completely leveled in 1974 by a cyclone. The entire downtown was rebuild and the roads were laid out so they could be widened for future growth. You can get to everything within 20 minutes as it is build along the waterfront of several bays and peninsulas.

Upon arrival in Darwin, we refueled in Cullen Bay Marina. I almost ran aground as I got confused with the marks in the water that were not on the chart. All is well. We were able to go directly to our slip in Tipperary Waters Marina since we arrived at high tide. That was an experience! When you look at the chart, there is no passage from the channel across the reef or mud flats to the entrance to the marina. It is all land!

Google Earth view of Tipperary Waters Marina at high tide.
Since you have to pass though a lock to get into the marina, we had to enter and leave when the tide was at a minimum of four meters. This is a small window for getting everyone in and out one boat at a time. The approach to the lock was tricky and the lock is very narrow with concrete sides and steel gates at each end.

The aft gate is closing before the water level can be raised.

Inside the lock with both gates closed. Up we go!

Jeff, the lockmaster and marina manager, is
giving us instructions. I felt so nervous.
Once inside the lock, we tied up port side to the wall and waited until the water filled and raised us up to the water level inside the marina. If there wasn't a lock, all of the water in the marina would drain out with the falling tide and boats would be on their sides! We were sitting in high water in the marina, overlooking mud flats that we had come across to get inside!

We were raised up to the level of the water
in the marina; then the forward gate opened
so I could drive us out and to the slip.

Forward gate closed; Dennis checking things.

The World ARC always has a number of social events including a Welcome Party. This was a good time to meet everyone again and connect names and faces. We were also invited to the Dinah Beach Yacht Club for an evening of cocktails and dinner. This is a very old establishment in Darwin. Actually, it is one of the few remaining buildings that survived the big cyclone that wiped out the entire city in 1974.

Sherry and Dennis with Hugh, our WARC leader.
This is a sailors' club. No dress code! Open air clubhouse. Good bar and a food truck type kitchen on the premises. We didn't need to worry about not being "dressed" for a yacht club. We met some very nice locals and shared cruising stories. Apparently, some of our gang had a good night on the dance floor, but we missed it. A good time was had by all!

We also attended a wine tasting event on the dock where we could order duty free wine to be delivered to the boat on our day of departure. It saved about 30% on taxes. Our next wine tasting with be in South Africa.

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