Tues 29/05/01 

Lots of little things to do today. Delma gets me working early at home cleaning out the spa that’s filled with fallen leaves and twigs.

Buy a hand bearing compass which will double as a night steering compass. The existing one is too dull to see properly at night and just a little bit too far away from the tiller. Bought all the spare fuel and get it onboard together with some extra water containers. Lots of fiddly little shopping. Get a haircut, some books to read and stationery items.

Delma and I take down the perishable and cold stores and get them stowed away. Time is getting away. We’re scheduled to go out of the marina lock at 1800 hrs.

1700 hours: Everything seems okay. Haven’t been able to get any lagging to wrap around the exhaust elbow. It’s meant to help prevent accidental burns and keep the heat down in the engine compartment. Delma still has unfinished things to do so I’ll be taking the boat by myself out of the marina. Complete some last minute tidy up details.

1800 hours: Cast off lines and back out of the marina berth without colliding with anyone, then make my way to the lock gates. Inside the lock I decide to put a temporary hitch line amidships onto a vertical steel pole to keep the boat against the lock wall, while I’m getting the bow and stern lines ready. Unfortunately I forget to untie the damn thing.

Peter the Lockmaster starts pumping out the lock and the water level drops. Unnoticed by me the midship line slides down the pole but catches on a bracket. A grinding noise alerts me and immediately I can seen the starboard rail beginning to bend.  Yell out to Peter to stop. He acknowledges but it takes time for the machinery to stop. Grab a knife but by now the rail has buckled and Lowana IV beings to hang against the side walls of the lock. The line is under tremendous stress and it’s like trying to cut steel. Finally manage to get the line cut and the boat thuds down into the water, but not before some of the stanchions have broken wholly or partly off at their base.

Quickly decide I can effect enough repairs to the rails by cutting off the bent bits and lashing timber to the rails. Leave the marina and motor out to the front of DBCYC. Anchor up, put on a night light and dinghy ashore, walk the 200m back to the marina, get the car and drive home feeling just a little pissed off about things.

1930 hours. Get back home and take a shower. Finalise last minute items on the job list around the house then leave with Delma for DBCYC. Have tea with daughter Karen at the club then Delma and I head out to the boat. Raise the anchor and motor around to nearby Doctors Gully in Darwin Harbour for the night. We’ll head out to WA in the morning.

Festive lights at the wharf. Half moon, calm water, slight breeze. Delma unpacks and stows groceries whilst I re-secure the dinghy. We wrap as much of the fruit and veges as we can in newspapers and sling them into netting in the forward berth area, which helps keep them useable for longer.

2245 hours: Must be almost ready for bed. Very tired. Calm anchorage. Have a hot chocolate drink. Listen to weather forecast. Its winds up to 30 kts and 2m seas. Not the best but we’ll see what it’s like in the morning before making a decision to go.

Weds 30/5/01

0400 hours: Boat rocks suddenly. Jump up and dive outside to see if we’re adrift. We aren’t. Quite cool though so jump back into bed.

0730 hours: Leisurely rise. It’s obvious from the sound of the wind and motion of the boat that we won’t be leaving today. Climb outside into the cockpit for a look around. Whitecaps everywhere in the harbour. The wind has a chill to to it. Fresh from the SE. Good direction but a bit strong.

007 breakfastLeft:  Delma prepares some breakfast.

0800 hours: Listen to the marine forecast. Strong wind warning is cancelled but the winds will remain fresh over coastal waters and very slowly moderating.

0815 hours: Try to take a photo of the bent rail and broken stanchions. Camera won’t work despite having only just got it back recently from being repaired.  It’s at this point we decide to return to the marina, get the rails and camera fixed and maybe install a new deckwash pump and a cockpit light if time permits. It’ll also give the weather a chance to moderate a bit and maybe we can leave tomorrow.

0845 hours: Contact Peter to arrange a time to return inside the marina. He has some line handlers ready by the time we arrive back at the marine gates including Don from Aspro. Don jumps down onboard to help handle the lines. Shows a certain camaraderie amongst cruising sailors.

0930 hours: Berth beside Rasa who had such problems in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf recently. Fred is waiting at the berth ready to catch the first mooring line and get straight into fixing the rails. Apparently Peter had told him of our problems. Delma leaves to get the camera fixed once the boat is secured.

First he cut off the bent bit and straightened it. Then with some pushing, pulling and bashing we manage to get the stanchions lined up again and everything reasonably straight. While Fred starts the welding job I begin installing the night steering compass.  Long overdue job involving pulling out the panelling in the wheelhouse to run the electrical cable through.  Fred also applies some two-pack epoxy paint primer onto the new welding for me.

006 bent railRight: Bent rail and broken stanchions.

Don is all doom and gloom about a Low pressure system coming up to the SW of WA. Might be a bit premature. The current High pressure system is 1029hp and I believe it should be strong enough to keep the Low down south. But Don’s advice is always worth listening to.

1330 hours. Guard rails are done. The day is beautiful and sunny, cloudless but still a bit too windy. Delma is back and we have some sandwiches she made for lunch. She’d walked all the way into town to the camera shop and got our camera fixed.

Afternoon: Get the remote steering compass installed and working with its red night-light. Manage to find different sized hoses for the deckwash pump. Get it all sorted with alligator clips to the battery bank. Turn it on and am pleased that it works well with good pressure. Will be able to keep the decks clean when raising the anchor without Delma having to lift buckets of seawater.

Redistribute the jerry containers around the deck and lash then down, top up the main water tank and scrub the decks. Delma manages to find more places to store more fruit and veges away, giving us a bit more living room below.

1700 hours: Everything all done. We go for a walk, have a chat with other boat owners, take a last shower and a final cuppa with Fred and his wife Beth from Nanbeth.

1840 hours: Peter has the lock gates open. Pull away from our day-berth and enter the lock. We only just have enough water under us to get the boat outside. Barely afloat we leave the marine into the open waters of the shallow tidal creek outside. Motor around to Doctors Gully again in the fading dusk. Similar conditions as last night. Pass the massive ship Hotel Olympia which is 4 stories high. It’s not normally docked here and must be passing through Darwin.

2000 hours: Anchor in Doctors Gully again. A dolphin keeps circling the boat as we’re taking soundings preparing to drop the anchor but leaves before anchoring is finished. We’re sitting adjacent to Parliament House with it’s pretty lights shining on the water. There’s an oil or gas drilling platform further out in the harbour with motors going all night. Otherwise it’s very peaceful and calm. Tomorrows forecast is looking good with 15-20 kts E to NE winds and up to 2m seas.

Delma is cooking rump steak, choko, potatoes and carrot with fresh fruit salad for desert. I’ve tidied up the boat putting away fenders, spring lines etc. After dinner we sit peacefully out on deck listening to the various activities ashore. Very smokey atmosphere – must be a bushfire somewhere.

2200 hours: Go to bed. Definitely heading out to WA tomorrow.



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