Sunday, July 2, 2017

Thursday Is... wait ... DARWIN? - 12° 27' 43" S 130° 50' 35" E

Hey, that's not Thursday Island!

We have arrived safely in Australia but to Darwin rather than Thursday Island.  This was not an error in navigation but at the insistence of the crew (who just happens to own the boat)! Poor Craig became rather green and insisted on calmer waters! The fish were very well fed.  Figuring that he would become very dehydrated, we changed course and headed to Darwin.

Once we stopped bashing into the sea and wind, it was much calmer and he made a slow recovery.  By the time we were weaving our way between the Tiwi Islands, he was positively perky and servicing winches and completing other boat jobs.  We were all pretty happy to drop anchor in Fannie Bay (yep, still chuckling at the name).

We hope you can get all the springs back
into that winch, Craig.

Yay!  We made it to Australia...

Entering Australia is quite an exercise, particularly if you had notified the Australian Border Force that you are entering in a different location.  Once we entered Australian waters, a plane dropped out from the clouds and buzzed us.  After some back and forward on the radio, they were happy and wished us a safe trip into Darwin.  We were allowed to anchor in the bay outside the Customs Dock overnight but we were not allowed onshore, to talk to anyone or have any interactions with another boat.  "Consider you have bubonic plague' was the advice!

A biosecurity diver checks Popeye's bottom
At the appointed hour, we headed to the customs dock.  Quarantine and Border Force came aboard (about six of them in their hobnail boots), searched the boat and checked our passports.  It took about an hour.  Then along came Fisheries who dived the boat and pumped stuff into the saltwater intakes to kill any hitchhikers.  We were then cleared into Australia!

And then, it became really cool!  Darwin has up to 8m tides, therefore, the marinas here are locked, as in you need to go through a lock to enter!  Not quite the Panama Canal but the engineer in me was very thrilled.


Cullen Bay Marina and its lock!
10 pm high tide, then in goes Popeye.

No longer bashing into The Trades, cleared into Australia and snug in our pen in the Marina, we are safe....  until we discover it is "Cracker Night'!  - hospital admissions jump, fire crews are stretched, pet owners howl in protest and families risk life and limb.  On July 1st, it is legal to buy and set off fireworks as part of the Territory Day celebrations.  What could possibly go wrong?? 

Fireworks.  Safe for the whole family.
EVERYONE in town is letting off fireworks
up and down the beach.
Well-deserved vino at the Darwin Sailing Club.

Hundreds of these guys around.

Coincidentally, Cracker Day happens on July 1st, which is also Canada Day.  We pretended that all the noise and partying was in double-honour of our arriving and Canada's birthday.  Gee, thanks Darwin!

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