The fisherman's marina is
the original marina in Darwin. The newer one is Cullen Bay. Cullen Bay is one of
those marinas that was built as part of an upscale residential development. A place
for the upper middle class to keep their fishing boat close to home. The fisherman's
marina on the other hand is operated by the Port Authority and is set up to serve the
local fishing fleet. When the fleet is out (April to November), they allow
visiting yachts to
use the facilities to help offset the costs.
The lock gates had been broken for about a week when the harbor
master told us to come around at 2:00pm because she was sure they would be fixed by
then. At 2:00 sharp we were there waiting to go in, but the harbor master was not
responding on the radio. We could see people working on the outer gate. In fact, it
looked very much like a typical government type project, one person was working and 10
more were standing around watching. We tried a couple of more times on the radio,
before we got through to the harbor master, she was one of the people standing around
watching. They were expecting the repairs to be completed soon.
After an hour of waiting and not being able to get
any updates on the radio, we flagged down a passing speed boat and sent our trusty scout,
Dave D., ashore with a radio to reconnoiter the situation. Dave hung around and
provided us along with the other 7-8 boats that were waiting with periodic updates on what
was happening at the locks. About 8:00pm we finally made it though the newly
repaired locks, wondering if they would be working the day we wanted out.
The fisherman's marina, locally known as the Duck
Pond is definitely a commercial affair. Concrete wharves, truck tires for
buffers, big steel pilings and stern-to tie ups. The one big plus is that it is only a 10
minute walk to down town. Not that there is much there.
The whole marina was designed for 90 foot steel
trawlers. 30 to 40 ft sailboats definitely looked out of place. Of course I
was also the smallest boat on the wharf. Most of the others in the 45-55 foot
range. Yankee Two, a 70 foot primo ketch was there as well. I was between two
50 foot steel ketches.
On one side was a guy who's wife had just walked out
on him. On the otherside was a group that had setout from Sydney bound for
Freemantle. They had mechanical problems and had to return to Darwin. With
the onset of cyclone season they decided to put their boat on a truck for the rest of the
journey. Laurie, the owner, had bought the boat in Sydney and was trying to sail it
home for repairs. Engine failures in Brisbane and gearbox failure in Darwin, just
put him too far behind in his schedule to make it before the cyclones set in.
While in Darwin I needed to have my main compass
repaired. It had sprung a leak just before Bali and was drying out quickly. I
did not want to sail any farther with out it than I had to. The only repair center
for Australia was in Perth so it had air expressed there and back. Most places that
would have meant 3-4 days. In Australia, you are looking at 10.
Compass fixed, and new crew aboard, it was finally
time to leave. Since the lock only operated 7:30 to 4:30 and we wanted to catch the
tide out the next morning at 5:00am, we left the afternoon before, saying good-bye to all of
our new friends and anchored in Fannie Bay one last time.