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NT Australia


Darwin, The Duck Pond Back
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.



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Last modified: February 01, 2009