May and June 2020
We moved back onto the boat at Tipperary Waters Marina in May, and straight back into the community’s social life.
Danni and Michael had bought a new (to them) boat called ‘Natsumi’ and took her out for a Sunday sail with friends (and we were invited!). There is indeed something romantic about sail boats, but for me it is all booms and bits to bump your head on, and ropes, lots and lots of ropes (pardon me – halyards, hauldowns and sheets)!
There is a lot of ‘helping out’ at the marina. One day I came home to find Peter looking like a pirate with a cut under his eye (aye aye – ha ha). Nigel of ‘Bison’ was having trouble with his tender so Peter helped him remove the engine. Unfortunately, they didn’t handle it quite right and someone got cut by the prop. Lots of bleeding, but it healed well.
It was hot, so one day Dave decided to crack out his paddle pool (Dave’s boat ‘Fonster’ carries a seemingly endless list of items and spares – if you didn’t have a particular tool you could almost guarantee that Dave would have one tucked away somewhere in his engine room).
The paddle pool was setup at the junction of 4 pontoons (they were very low in the water by the time it was filled). There is a shade tarp tied between our four boats and the bbq was set up on a floating pontoon so the smoke wouldn’t go into the boats.
One of our favourite places to visit, the Botanic gardens, had just installed it’s latest addition, a truly magnificent, stainless steel sculpture of a crocodile (artist – Techy Masero). The attention to detail is impressive; the croc eyes are perfect, each scale is individually welded in place and the barra it is eating even has a red tag. There is a fishing competition here between October and March, called the ‘Million Dollar Barra’, in which tagged, farm reared barramundi are released from various locations around the coastline for catching. The different coloured tags represent different prizes, with the red one worth $1 000 000. [October Update: the $1M fish hasn’t been caught in the last few years, so this year there have been 7 red tagged released, although only the first one caught will be worth the $1M].
Another case of helping out was ‘operation find the glasses dropped in the marina’. We haven’t used our little Powerdive kit for a while (I stopped going under the boat at Rottnest Island a few years ago when the number of sharks increased markedly) but it worked a treat. The glasses were found (both times – it happened twice in one week – different people each time).
Nigel, the owner of the lost glasses is on the left, Peter is supervising in the middle, Dani (lockmaster and owner of Natsumi) is laughing supportively and Michael (husband to Dani and general useful person around the marina) is doing the diving. He tried without the PowerDive and couldn’t reach the bottom. Apparently there is a big hole down there and visibility was not good.
We had heard about the dry season in Darwin and all the stories are true. The change in climate is quite dramatic. One week you are in 80% humidity and 35 degrees, the next week the humidity is gone and the temperature drops to much more comfortable levels. We love the dry in Darwin, as it is just fantastic. This is the only time I took my cold weather clothes out since we left Shark Bay; one day in 330 days here required a jacket (the locals do get around in coats and hoodies at this time of year, but they have been here for years, not months).
I did a few early morning bike rides with Peter (only because of the promise of ‘a good coffee with a view’ at the La Plage café, Casuarina Beach, about 15 kms north of the marina). If you continue further north from the café, the bike path becomes a boardwalk that goes through the mangroves. We love mangroves – both their design and function. In the photo Peter is on one of the boardwalks at low tide showing the full extent of the root system. Insect repellant is essential (and Peter reapplies often as he is a mozzie magnet), but it is lovely and cool in there.
Another ride that Peter took me for was out to the Charles Darwin National Park (named for the botanist, but not because he ever visited Darwin, just because his former crewmates thought he would have appreciated the diverse range of flora and fauna in the area). Some of the bunkers in the park are used to display WWII memorabilia and history. There is a very funny story about a chappy (later awarded a well deserved medal) who was having a shower when the air raid siren went off – he manned his machine gun totally naked.
It really came home to us how easy we have had it here in Darwin in the COVID times when the sail boat ‘Stars End 2’ came into the marina. Frank and Nikki had been at sea for 10 weeks, not allowed to stop anywhere enroute from India (where they were when COVID broke out). They tell a wonderful story about being given fuel from an Indonesian fishing boat so they could make the last leg to Darwin. We knew that as soon as they had tied the boat up, they would be taken off to do their 2 week quarantine and wouldn’t have a chance to get anything for themselves, so Dani and Nigel organised an impromptu care hamper. People just contributed whatever they had aboard that we thought we would like after such an experience; nice soap and toiletries, chocolates (yes I shared), fresh fruit, coffee bags (Peter’s contribution) and a selection of alcohol. 2020 will be ‘The Year of People Stories’.
Feb 2021 Update: Nikki of ‘Stars End II’ published a story about their trip in the January 2021 edition of ‘Cruising Helmsman’.
Neon got a bit carried away with feeling a more energetic (in the slighter cooler weather) and managed to hurt his rear leg jumping between counters (he doesn’t seem to realise he is a geriatric feline). An x-ray showed no permanent damage to his ligaments or tendons (and we had his teeth cleaned while he was anaesthetized) so he was put on a short course of anti-inflammatories. Well, he really liked his medicine. After a week he was running around the boat like a kitten, leaping up and down the stairs, throwing his catnip mouse into the air and jumping to retrieve it as if it were going to end up in near earth orbit. Generally, very active for very short periods of time, then he would collapse for a goodly few hours of nap to recover. It seems that the anti-inflammatories have also reduced the pain associated with his arthritis (which we didn’t know he had). So, after having a long discussion with the vet addressing her concerns about his staying on a medication that can cause gastric problems in the long term (but what long term are we realistically looking at here when he is 17 years not young?), he is now on permanent anti-inflammatory medication and is so much happier for it.
As the dry sets in it seems everyone in the marina is working on their boat; cleaning, painting, polishing, stock taking spares – what else is there to do?
With the dry well on its way and the NT opening up again, we plan to get back out and about touring the Territory in the next few months before we leave. Check out our next instalment for more tourist-ing in the NT.
Peter has discussed these more fully in his Tech Talk 3.
Painting depth marks onto the anchor chain
Refurbishing the windlass
Replacing the house batteries
Giving the bbq a permanent fitting out the back
Cleaning and flushing the water tanks