_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Monday, July 21, 2008


Marcy arrived in Darwin just after sunset on Tuesday July 8. The following couple of days were filled with the usual new city activities. We checked in with customs, loaded water onto the boat and inspected the haulout facilities located in the middle of nowhere - a long hot walk out of town. We found that the grocery stores are located close to the bus line and both the mall (which in un-American fashion closes at 5:30PM most days!) and downtown are quite handy by bus. We made a trip to Bunnings
hardware store to get some items and started getting the boat ready to cross the Indian Ocean. It's a long way to Africa from here, with only a couple of stops on the way. The only boat haul out facility in town is up a creek that dries at low tide. We could only haul the boat and then re-launch on the highest of tides. Also, it's so far away that it would be impossible to run to the store for quick supplies without a car. We decided that our biggest job, a repair to the rudder lower bearing,
will be done in the water and we'll plan to haul the boat when we get to South Africa. It's nice to have that decision made.

Friends on Te Wai Pounamu (Kiwi) rented a car and together with Kassoumay (Brit) we've been sharing the expenses of the car for the last week. It's been fantastic to have a car for the errands that are hard to complete such as filling our lp gas bottles (3rd try was a charm) and getting plumbing parts from a specialty store in the industrial district. We've also used the opportunity to buy heavy items such as beverages and canned goods. The grocery shopping list is almost down to fresh items that
will be purchased next week. Our participation in the car rental ends today and we'll be focusing on boat repair jobs. That list is always long.

While in Darwin we've gone to the museum, done some wildlife spotting and gone to a movie. The museum is a combination natural history museum, art museum and marine museum. The displays are well done and interesting. We also went in search of wallabies at sunset one day and saw 2 at a nearby park. They reminded us of small wild deer with huge rabbit ears and of course those huge back legs. We sat in the car with the binoculars - Peter had planned well, and watched them nibbling on the dry grass
at the opposite edge of a field. They were very wary and as some pedestrians came out the road the wallabies disappeared quickly. Our Sunday night adventure was planned by Jenny and Eddie of Te Wai Pounamu. We used the last night with the car to go to the Deck Chair Cinema. This outdoor movie theater plays a different movie every night and the movie on Sunday seemed the best of the offerings for the week. It was an odd German movie with english subtitles. The chairs were sort of comfortable
and the mosquito repellant mostly worked. The highlight of the evening was the marsupial working the sides of the seating looking for snacks. It looked like a large slow rat with a lemur head.

While we've found that cruising isn't all sunsets and cocktails we have been most comfortable here in Darwin. The end of any day ashore involves returning to our dinghy through the Darwin Sailing Club, where as visiting members we have access to to hot showers, a wonderful bar, restaurant, and pleasant views of the anchored fleet of sailboats. It's not in every port that we're anchored in front of a welcoming yacht club!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Windy Cooktown

Marcy and her crew find themselves anchored in a desolate windy river mouth in Cooktown. Gusts rock us to our beam ends. The wind generator on the yacht anchored near us shrieks in protest. Salt spray whips off the water and fills the air. Every afternoon Marcy’s keel bumps the bottom. We look out to to sea – a mass of breakers. No one in their right mind would think of setting out into those conditions. How did we get here? What are we doing here? How long will we need to stay here?

windy Cooktown

Ginger hangs on Cooktown

gust on water Cooktown

afternoon low tide Cooktown

Ginger, looking in the fridge for a good lunch, finds a partially consumed bottle of excellent Cabernet and much fresh fish. Fish…..hmmm…..we start to remember. Sunny, windy days. Steve, the Australian guest. Wine. Much wine and beer. And a big fish.
We remember that it all began in Cairns, where we took Steve on board, a friend we met for the first time in San Diego early in the cruise. He brought to Marcy many bottles of wine, a very special bottle of beer, cooking skill, and insight and translation ability to all things Australian.

Steve and wine

A bottle of wine for every night.

Aus wine

cheers Marcy crew

We set out for a week of coast hopping north. We arrive after dark at Port Douglas, and woke in a pretty mangrove lined river anchorage. We set sail early to the next destination, Low Islets out near the Barrier Reef.

Low Islet, Aus

Steve Peter Ginger Low Islet

view from Low Islet

We had a pleasant walk around the island, and resolved to snorkel the reef. We learned from Steve that this was the water in which Steve Irwin (the famous TV crocodile guy) was fatally stabbed by a stingray. We made a mental note – give any stingray we see plenty of room. We never saw one – just as well.

We did see a reef full of turtles wonderful soft coral, and fish of all sorts.

Prepare to snorkel Low Islet

staghorn coral Low Islet

fish 2 Low Islet

soft coral Low Islet

soft coral 2 Low Islet

turtle Low Islet

fish Low Islet

coral Low Islet

Each meal, many of which were prepared by Steve, was accompanied by plenty of beer or wine. Or both….

mexican lunch with Steve

The days dissolved into a pleasant blur. There were wonderful dinners.

Low Islet prawns

Somehow, despite the alcholic haze, we hopped up the coast to the next island.

Hope Isles sign

We’ve made a plan for a fresh fish dinner, but no one wants to go spearfishing here. Steve valiantly fishes with the rod under the boat, but no luck. Maybe we’ll have pasta tonight. There will be plenty of wine in any case…

Next day found us running downwind in the usual very brisk tradewind when Steve rigged the trolling line. Success!

triumphant Steve

Steve's big fish

Steve brought a big Spanish Mackerel onboard. This is the same fish we know as Waloo in Fiji and Wahoo in Polynesia. Very tasty! The sushi knives were prepared……

fish prep Coral Coast

sushi lunch Cooktown

As the fish was attended to, and Marcy quickly reeled off miles to Cooktown, where the highway ends. It’s the last port on our northbound journey where Steve was able to arrange transportation back to Brisbane. We dropped the hook just inside the river mouth, with almost enough water under the keel.

One of the first things to greet us as we went ashore was a sign warning us of recent croc sightings. We’re getting used to living a few notches down from the top of the food chain.

croc sighting sign Cooktown

As Steve boarded his bus to start the long trip back south, we vowed to drink only water for a while. That night, as we slept the wind howled in the rigging. The next morning we listened to the “High Wind Warnings” on the weather report and realized that it would be prudent to stay put for a while.

Three days later we’re still swing wildly on the hook at Cooktown. Feeling quite sober, we’ve explored the town – it didn’t take long.

Cook statue Cooktown

Cooktown is the site where the Endeavor was careened and repaired after a disastrous encounter with the reef.

muddy shore Cooktown

We have some colorful neighbors. We heard from them that the wind was clocked at 60 kts on Saturday.

neighbor 1 Cooktown

neighbor 2 Cooktown

The weather looks as if it will moderate to the normal 25 to 30 kts tomorrow, so we plan to escape. We feel that we’ve gotten a hint of what Captain Cook must have felt. Even today it is as if we’re trapped at the end of the world…..

Cooktown flats

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