Eric: 1:00 am. Left Tipperary Waters Marina yesterday. Uncle Curtis and Uncle Joel returned Bryce and Trent to the boat from Zen Hotel at 6:30 am. I was still asleep having rebuilt the head and solved the RO unit’s airlock problem up until 1:45 am. Took last hot water shower for a while during which Bryce and Trent rinsed the deck with fresh water one last time. Said our goodbyes to Curtis and Joel. Sad. They were so generous to us. Their presence with us made Darwin a special stop. Entered lock at 8:15 am.
Motored for 60 minutes to the start line. Passed the start line 5 minutes behind the first boat under sail. Curtis and Joel hitched a ride on the committee boat, Spirit of Darwin; we saw them waving. We sounded our siren and air horn and waved goodbye while Trent made bubbles. Flew genoa, staysail and main. Lots of fun sailing so close to other boats. Very festive!
Winds bearing to broad on starboard. Sailed 7 knots average for first 6 hours. Great start. Delorme inReach not working. Frustrating. Another thing to fix. Ugh! Tonight, winds are light. We’re motor sailing with several boats, about 4-5 nearby. Pleasant. I had a terrible headache before dinner. Thought my head was going to explode. Must not have drank enough water. Better now. RPM meter having problems. Another must repair.
Leslie: 7:00 am. Beautiful sunrise and sky: mauve color at the horizon until just before the rising of the sun, changing color to a fluorescent-like brilliant salmon color, then morphing to yellow rose or peach. Now the sun is peaking out. The small crescent shape changes quickly into a half sphere. A minute later the entire body of the sun is a brilliant incandescent yellow ball of fire. From its first appearance to completed sphere the process is less than 3 minutes. Once above the horizon, the blazing ball is so bright that I can no longer stare at it. My vision has sun spots. The color of the ocean was black and now it’s indigo. There is just a slight breeze dimpling the sea; it doesn’t have the smooth mirror quality when there is no wind. We are motor-sailing. The light swell is perhaps 6 seconds apart and 2 feet high. Our sails are constantly luffing making shuffling noises. The engine keeps us in a forward direction at just under 4 knots.7:20 am. The sun has risen a foot above the horizon lighting up the entire sky. Wispy clouds of soft grey purple still reside in the west. The clouds are too far away to be color infused by the brilliant ball of flame. 7:23 am – only just now do I sense heat radiating from the sun’s powerful flames. It’s going to be a hot day on the sea if the wind doesn’t pick-up. During the sunrise, I’ve been sipping my mocha and munching on apple slices plus day-old carrot bread that I prepped in advance to munch during the sunrise show. Four boats from our ‘Sail Indonesia’ fleet are plugging along northside of us. We’re all traveling a similar speed, motoring steadily along. I think we’ll raise the gennaker today. It looks like the weather conditions will be perfect for it.
8-2-2017. We made it to Indonesia and are anchored off Timor just outside the city of Kupang, our check-in destination, also Captain William Bligh’s ultimate arrival destination after being set adrift by mutiny first mate Christian Fletcher. Approaching the anchorage, we passed many fish pod bouys bobbing up and down. The south-western coastline up until the city is dotted with industrial-type manufacturing plants. Not many other structures. The flat land is dry, covered in yellowed plant-life. It is the dry season. Not mountainous in the southern part of Timor, the scenery is stark. Coming up on the anchorage, the many seaside block buildings announce a substantial population.
Immediately surrounding the anchorage, cement houses are built atop boulders at the water’s edge. There is a small section of beach left vacant for dinghies and swimming. We later discovered that the town uses that beachside area for its public events.
Our check-in process went smoothly. All the officials were assembled in one room. We were boarded by 5 people: one was a jilbad head covered woman who acted as translator. They asked if we had drugs or alcohol. We admitted to both: morphine to counter the pain of Eric’s occasional bouts with kidney stones, and some bottles of rum and wine in our alcohol bin. They wanted to see the morphine, which I store in a plastic Kirkland vitamin bottle. The packet wrapped in unopened plastic is still intact since we first brought it aboard in January 2015. I explained that Eric hasn’t had to use it, but we have it on hand just in case. Regarding the alcohol, they simply indicated that we musn’t bring it ashore. We soon discovered that delicious inexpensive Bintang beer is available throughout Indonesia. In the hot heat of Kupang, a chilled beer hits the spot!
It took us 24 days to get to Darwin, Australia. It would have taken 20 days, but we were getting so beat-up by the waves along the way, that we stopped and anchored at Coconut Island in the middle of the Torres Strait. After 13 days at sea, Bryce couldn’t stand staying on the boat, so he swam to the island not knowing that he was breaking the law. When he got to land, everybody said that he was really lucky that he survived because there are a lot of sharks and huge crocodiles swimming around there.I finished reading “The Golden Compass” series by Philip Pullman. I loved the books – They are now my second favorite series after the “I Am Number Four” series by Pittacus Lore.
When we finally got to the Cullen Bay pontoon at Darwin on Friday morning, July 21st, I really wanted to go to land, but I had to wait for quarantine and that took an hour or so. Once cleared by biohazard, customs, immigration and two sniffing dogs, we went looking for lunch. We found a great burger place called Lola’s.
It had a ton of cool vintage stuff and colorful hanging decorations almost like going to the fairgrounds or Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. After lunch, I wanted to stay on land, so Bryce and I walked to the city to find a city tourist map, a McDonald’s, a skate park and the movie theater to find out the movies playing and their times. It was an hour walk both ways. It felt good to walk, but it was hot.
Later that evening, it was decided that we’d all take a bus back into town even though dad hadn’t slept for 24 hours. Bryce and I wanted to watch Spiderman, but it was very expensive, so just Bryce and I stayed to watch it. Mom and dad left to explore the city without us because we had already done that. The movie was great. We all took a cab home.
The next morning, we motored over to Tipperary Marina Waters where we had a dock slip waiting for us. Before leaving, we filled up our diesel tanks with a hose. That was one of the easiest diesel refills ever…no jugs, no filters – diesel pumped straight into the tanks without worries of poor quality, dirt or water! It took us an hour to motor over to the marina, and since they have an 18-foot tide in Darwin, the marina had a lock. It was really cool entering into the lock, having the solid doors close behind us, and then rising up to the level of the marina water. We entered the lock at the closest time to slack tide to make the levels as equal as possible.
We washed down the outside of the boat and cockpit. Then, I took a long hot shower. It was very nice. A little later we got dressed-up and left for the ‘Sail Indonesia Rally’ Welcome BBQ held at the Darwin Sailing Yacht Club to meet all the other people sailing in the rally. The Bali dancers and the food were great, but the event got boring once we ate, so I played rugby with some little kids on the grass.
Uncle Curtis arrived the next day on Sunday, but before he arrived we had to do boat work like cleaning the back lazarette and anchor locker, dry the gennaker, new measurements for staysail halyard, washing and scrubbing the deck twice, fixing toilets, etc. Dad had a huge list that we worked on all week. Once Curtis arrived, we all ate together at the local Frying Nemo snack bar and then Bryce and I got to go with Uncle Curtis to sleep at his specially reserved hotel room. It was really nice with air-conditioning, a living room and separate bedroom, a small kitchen with fridge, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, dishes, a balcony, hyper fast wifi, a pool, a small washing machine for laundry, and most importantly, hot showers whenever we wanted with fancy towels!
Monday morning, we had an amazing tasting breakfast at the hotel buffet with Curtis before we had to return to the boat to get to work. Mom washed our massive 24-day collection of laundry at the marina coin operated laundromat, and we worked on cleaning the bottom of the boat. Dad had to replace the heat exchanger and repair the engine with a marine mechanic specialist. Curtis picked up some chicken for lunch, which was a tasty break. We worked a bit more on boat projects, then skateboarded to Curtis’ hotel for the night. Mom prepared dinner from the rest of the wahoo fish that Bryce had caught in the Torres Strait and we taught Curtis how to play Carcasson, our favorite board game that Curtis had actually given us before we left. We also enjoyed the speedy wifi!
The next day, Tuesday, mom and dad came to the hotel and ate breakfast with us because we said it was so good the day before. And it was great again! Bryce and I skateboarded back to the boat for more work projects. We finished at 2:00 pm. Without mom since she was working at the hotel on our website, the four of us drove to the mall. We ate at Pizza King and I had a double chocolate muffin. I also bought a really nice metallic figit that was Aus$30 and got a cool plastic one for free – or two for the price of one. Bryce bought a high quality JBL speaker that’s supposedly waterproof. When we got back to the hotel, Bryce and I worked out at the hotel gym and then went swimming in the modern looking pool.
The following day, Wednesday the 26th of August, Uncle Joel was coming, but we had to work some more at the boat after all of us enjoyed another great breakfast at the hotel. We met Uncle Joel at the airport with Uncle Curtis around 1:00 pm. He dropped his stuff off at the hotel, then the four of us went to the mall again. I got an Australian straw cowboy shaped hat and Bryce got new wheels for his penny skateboard. We ate at Subway. I LOVE Subway!
Thursday, we went to Crocasaurus, a saltwater crocodile marine aquarium where they breed crocs and feed huge ones in front of the visitors. While the trainers are in a croc’s habitat to feed the beasts, they never turn their back on the massive creatures and always carry a big stick. The zoo had viewing glass tanks where you could watch the crocs up close swimming in the water. They had an area with a hundred small juvenile crocs, which we could actually feed with a bated fishing line ourselves. It was kinda like a carnival game holding the bate out to tempt the juveniles.
Plus – we had a chance to hold a baby crocodile while getting our pictures taken. The babies are already quite heavy. The massive male adults can weigh over a ton. The Crocasaurus marine park takes care of the troublemaker crocs taken out of the wild…ones that have gotten too close to humans. They breed the crocs for their expensive leather hides and good quality meat. Burgerstyle, the meat has the texture of chicken and a light flavor of fish. I liked it, but they oversalted it.That evening, we ate at a really nice restaurant where the beef steaks are known for their high quality, but are very expensive. I ordered the meat lasagna, which was so big I couldn’t finish it. Bryce split a steak with mom. Joel ordered fish. Uncle Curtis and dad both ordered the huge fancy steaks. It was all delicious. Bryce and I even got FREE ice cream. Yum!
The next day, Friday, was our last full day in Darwin. We worked a lot that day on the boat with dad while mom, Curtis and Joel went shopping to bulk up on staple western type food provisions for the next few months while traveling in southeast asia. When we finished our work, Curtis drove Bryce to the fancy skateboarding park that we located the day before, and I stayed at the hotel to do internet because I wanted to research buying a new penny board on amazon. That night we all went to Mindil Beach where food trucks and local artisans set up shop. Tons of the local people were there swarming the food trucks and cool artisan stalls. It was really festive. The food choices were incredible: Greek, Indonesia, Malaysian, Indian, baked potatoes with chili and most importantly, Australian kangaroo, croc or water buffalo burgers served with huge french fries.
There were amazing street musicians playing didgeridoos where a group of local Aborigines were inspired to get up and dance – Wow! Dad bought two didgeridoo music albums, I bought myself a cool tiger eye crystal pendant for improved concentration, Bryce bought a crocodile spine wristband, mom got a couple Indonesian looking longer length dresses in preparation for Indonesia and Uncle Curtis and Joel bought two Aborigine paintings to add to their art collection.
On Saturday, having enjoyed our last night at the hotel, we woke up early because Kandu had an appointment to exit the Tipperary marina lock at 8:00 am. Uncle Curtis and Joel were at the lock waving goodbye. We made it to the starting line on time for the rally kick-off signal. While sailing past Uncle Curtis and Joel waving goodbye on the big rally coordination boat, we blasted our horn and I waved a bubble stick up in the air. Turns out the bubble stick presents that Joel gave were more fun than I expected.
Even with all the work and shortened time window, we had a great time in Darwin especially due to being able to spend so much quality time with Uncle Curtis and Uncle Joel. I liked the area so much, I hope to travel there again someday to visit the sites we missed: Kakado National Park and Aboriginal peoples, and the Litchfield Park termites.
Fortunately, we did get to see those scary crocs. The saltwater crocs live near rivers because they have to detox from the saltwater every so often. All river outlets in the Northern Territory are extremely dangerous. Did you know that Australia’s saltwater crocodiles were endangered and have now increased in numbers from 100,000 to 200,000 adults in the wild? The population of crocodiles in Darwin is as big as the population of humans. Those statistics are great for the crocs, but there is a price. People cannot swim in the local waters for fear of attack – no kayaking, long board paddling, nor surfing in the Northern territory. Instead, fishing excursions are very popular along with boat trips into the mangroves to watch wild crocodiles jump for fish on a stick!