This blog is about my wife and I sailing our 13m sailing catamaran around Australia during 2012 2013 and 2014. We will sail from Brisbane at the end of April 2012 and slowly head north anticipating that we will arrive in Darwin for the cyclone season and head west when safe to do so and complete the circumnavigation.
After talking to Rob and Alison last night on the phone we
made the plan that I ring Jo the lockmaster at the marina at 0600 hours and
organise the lock opening at 0800 hours then pick Alison and Rob up near the
sailing club to assist us with local knowledge and to get through the lock.
This plan failed because to have the lock opened prior to 0900 hours you have
to phone before 1800 hours the day before. Rob suggested we head off before
0800 hours and contact Jo at 0800 hours when she is available to answer the
phone and book for 0900 hours this we did but there was still a hold up as I
was not expected to arrive until tomorrow and they had to move a boat out of
the berth so it was a little later that we got in.
I picked Alison and Rob up in the dinghy from the boat ramp
near the yacht club at Fannie Bay, this was our first time meeting them and it
was a pleasure, very nice people. When we arrived on board Nancy had engines
going and we were ready to head off after the introductions. We did not have to
rush as we had plenty of time after contacting Jo and finding that we could not
get in until 1000 hours. This gave us time to chat and get to know each other,
the incredible part is that Rob and I had possibly met before in 1986 when we
both worked in Alice Springs not that we could remember but highly possible.
Going along the waterfront we could see the enormous changes
to Darwin with a lot of new high-rise buildings. The waterfront itself has also
changed with the industrial and fuel installations moved away from the city
waterfront and new wharfs also in the industrial area. The last time we visited
Darwin in 1996 the only marina was Cullen Bay now they have Tipperary marina,
Bayview marina and one they call the Duck Pond which is mainly used by the
fishing boats. We actually chose Bayview through default as it was the only
marina that could take us and secondly we could fit through the lock gates.
Cullen Bay we could fit but they do not have permanent live a boards. However,
this marina appears to be the better marina for protection in case of cyclone
and they also have cleaner water in the marina through the flush through water
system. As an added bonus the marina is very clean and has great views of
beautiful homes and gardens all around it.
(Stoke Hill Wharf)
(Stokes Hill Wharf used to be a working wharf in the days before the 1975 Darwin disasterrous cyclone Tracey on the other side we used to have the pontoons where we used to dock the Patrol Boats now it is a place of eateries and coffee shops)
(As we passed the Fishermans wharf and Paspaley Shipyard with the high-rise buildings of Darwin in the background and there are more being built)
(Going up Sadgroves Creek between the moored and anchored boats)
(Bayview Marina showing the track in)
Bayview Marina is located up Sadgroves Creek at Francis Bay,
after passing Stokes Hill Wharf and along passed the other marinas we came to
the mouth of SadgrovesCreek and Rob
suggested we pick up his mates mooring and wait the time out there which we did
and had a cup of tea and a chat.
At around 15 minutes before we were due in we slipped the
mooring and motored up the creek, this creek all but dries out at low tides so
we needed to go now or we would miss our chance as it was we were later than we
wanted to be because now the tide had started to rush out and we were hoping
for the entry to be at the top of the tide when it is still. The creek is full
of moored boats and is a little bit like an obstacle course to weave through
them, they say it will be worse at the end of the month when the yachts
anchored at Fannie Bay head to the creek for the cyclone season.
As we neared the lock gates we had to wait for a boat to
come out, the lock gate looked so small and I must admit I was a little nervous
as we approached. The lock will take boats up to 7.25 metres wide and we are
6.93 metres wide. Normal fenders are to wide to fit between the gate and the
boats sides, we had purchased some flat lengths of rubber to act as fenders. We
neared the gate and I lined up the boat to go in and just as we started to
enter the tidal flow swung the stern putting us on an angle, I could not go astern
and retry because of rocks to the side and the danger of the tide pushing the
stern towards them and damaging the rudder so I had to try and correct it by
using the engines and still go forward. Rob, Alison and Nancy worked hard
fending the boat away from the gate but we did make contact and put a few
scratches on the port side which I will have to repair. After getting through
the gate and in the lock proper we secured to the wall and Jo closed the gate
and filled the lock lifting us about one metre. I had to sign paperwork whilst
we were there and I think my signature may have been a little rough. Once to
the right level the inside lock gate opened and we had to go through that but
there is no tidal influence so it was not too bad.
(Bayview Marina lock gates, yes thos narrow grey doors, they are a little scewed from the track in which can cause problems, the tide going out pulls to the left.)
(Some hours after we arrived in the marina Sadgroves Creek and the marina entrance at low tide)
(This is when we were in and up against the lock wall, I called this phot 'bloody narrow')
(The gates closed behind us)
(After securing to the lock wall we start going up as the water is pumped in)
(Rob who helped us greatly, thanks mate.)
(Sorting out the paperwork with Jo the Lockmaster)
(The lovely lady Alison what a great couple Alison and Rob are, thanks Alison for your kindness)
(Inside the marina, the heart rate has slowed and the hands have nearly stopped shaking)
Now that we are in we have had some tips on the way others
bring wide boats in, many get a few crew on the side of the lock with ropes and
they walk the boat in, they also use timber planks over the side of the boat so
if anything hits it's the planks that take the damage.
Jo the Lockmaster she was very helpful and a nice person
with it, she helped us get this berth when we made the enquiries.
Once inside the marina it was quite nice and we went on a
tour around the waterways whilst we waited for the other person to vacate the
berth, once he had left we went and settled into our berth, met a few locals
and Rob and Alison walked home as they have a house on the waterfront in the
marina. Later they picked us up and we went to the Dinah Beach Club for dinner
and a few drinks. Our new found friends are very nice people and very helpful,
Rob is doing some work on his yacht soon so I can return the favour by giving
him help where I can after all that's what this yachting/boating community is
all about is helping one another.
Well we are now at the end of the first leg of our
circumnavigation and will be here in Darwin for 5 - 6 months for the cyclone
season, I will endeavour to keep the site alive with some information about
Darwin what we see and what we do, I may also do a summary of the voyage so far
and include a little more about anchorages.