With lots of fresh fruits and vegetables we start our next leg to Darwin in good spirits. It’s around 700 miles to westward. Soon after leaving Seisia, we enter the Gulf of Carpentaria, a giant bay that reminds us of the North Sea with its dimensions of more than 300 by 300 miles. A feisty southerly wind blows, but the coast is now too far away to provide any shelter. As a result, high, steep waves regularly hit the hull with great force. We get huge amounts of water over deck and see with dismay how the wind in squalls exceeds 40 knots. We continue to plow further under a double-reefed mainsail and with only a very small genoa. Because of the rough blows that Luci gets, we sleep poorly and hardly eat.
Fortunately, Luci handles these conditions brilliantly and the discomfort is temporary. With a sigh of relieve we round Cape Wessel. We have now crossed the Gulf and return to the shelter of the coast. From now on, it should be very smooth sailing. Fortunately, the wind remains favorable and a few days later we sail into the Van Diemen Gulf. One more night and then we see Darwin’s skyline looming in the morning light. It’s slowly growing bigger, like an urban oasis in the apparently endless, remarkably flat landscape.
Diver in Darwin
Although we’re still in Australia, we need to undergo a thorough bio-inspection when we arrive in Darwin. The authorities here are terrified of invasive underwater species. A diving team comes to inspect our hull and fill the drains of our toilet and engine with biocides. As we recently painted a fresh layer of antifouling in New Zealand, the diver compliments us for having a clean hull and hands us a biosafety certificate. Now we can move to a marina. “The last time we were in a lock is more than six years ago,” Floris notes when we approach the tight entrance to the Tipperary Waters Marina. As a reward for maneuvering through this obstacle, we can moor in a well-sheltered, croc-free and non-tidal basin.
From our new temporary home, we explore the city. To Ivar’s joy, we find a well-sorted chandlery nearby. We then spend hours in the botanical garden, which features awesome trees and flowers. At the waterfront, the beautifully designed public space surprises us. It’s a huge park set around a large swimming basin and an open-air wave pool as its top attraction.
We also meet Dutchman Rob and his British wife Paula, who migrated to Australia many years ago. We spend lovely evenings with them and their family and friends. Once again, we are astonished how easy it is to make new friends and feel at home in a new place. To top it all off, the Darwin Fringe Festival kicks off, with lots of music and theater all over town. Who would have thought we would bathe in culture in Darwin?!