05 July 2007

Darwin, Northern Territory

Anchored in Fannie Bay
Darwin, Northern Territory

Greetings from Darwin. Wow is it hot here. It is 11am and 90 degrees! Team Sandpiper dropped the hook at 6am, before the sun came up, in Fannie Bay. We are anchored out here with out friends S/V Shiraz and S/V Blue Sky, and about 50 other boats.

Yesterday morning we turned left and entered the Van Diemen Gulf where we caught a real strong tidal current. We were flying along at 8.5 knots. But when the tides changed, it slowed us down to only 2.5 knots.

We had planned on anchoring when the tides changed. But we did not arrive to the anchorage until after the sunset. There was a 2 knot current running through the anchorage and no protection from the winds which had switched around to the north. So we held a quick Team Sandpiper brief. We decided to keep on going overnight and anchor in Darwin. But this meant we had to go against the tidal current for 5 hours at 2.5 knots through several narrow passages till the tide turned back in our direction. We lost all wind and ended up motoring all night, arriving at Fannie Bay just before sunrise.

Darwin is our last stop in Australia. We will be leaving on 21-July with 100 other boats in the 2007 Darwin-to-Kupang Rally that will take us through Indonesia for the next 3 months. The rally committee is sponsoring BBQ's, informative talks about what to expect while traveling through Indonesia. They will have a Northern Territory theme night where you can have your photo taken with a crocodile or an Emu, and then eat him for dinner. There will be a Black theme night for Friday the 13th featuring drink specials (Jim Beam Black, or Black Russian cocktails) and blackened steaks. There is an Eastern Indonesia Tourism Expo where a number of eastern Indonesian provinces and tour operators will showcase their areas to rally participants, provide preliminary information, and answer any questions we have before we leave Australia. Check out the Darwin-to-Kupang Rally web site where you can see all the boats that are registered for the rally, and see what is currently going on.

Team Sandpiper will be busy getting all our paperwork finalized. We have to clear out of Australia and ensure that our Indonesia visas and cruising permits are valid. We are also going to see a travel doctor to ensure that we have all our shots and pills for a disease/parasite free experience while we are in Indonesia and Thailand.

We will getting Sandpiper loaded up with food and water for the next for 4 next months. And we are stocking items that we will not be able to purchase in Indonesia. We had planned on pulling into a marina here for a few days to make provisioning easier. It is a mile dinghy trip ashore because the tides here are so extreme. Due to the extreme tidal ranges in Darwin, the marinas have locks, which are really just large doors, that they close to keep all the water in the marina during low tide. We found out this morning that there is a $250.00 charge just to travel through the locks while the rally fleet is in Darwin. So no marina for Sandpiper.

Today's tidal range is over 21 feet. When it is low tide it is a long haul with the dingy to drag it up the beach above the high tide mark. This should not be a huge problem since we are one of the few boats out here that have dingy wheels! (Thanks mom Larson!).

We are also planning on doing an inland trip to Litchfield National Park in a small camper van to get our last inland trip while we are still here in Australia.

We will keep posting updates before we leave. We are hoping to have our photos caught up soon as well.

Pick up this month's Latitudes & Attitudes and check out the section on 'You think that was dumb' where they published our story titled 'Red Dye #5'. This story is pretty funny, I don't care who you are.

If you are an old school Team Sandpiper follower then you will remember our friends Neil and Jackie from S/V Voyager who helped us punish our livers while traveling down the west coast of Mexico. When we left Mexico for the South Pacific, they put Voyager on a truck and shipped it back to The States where they sold it. They have been working hard ever since then, living in the Bay Area in a nice comfy house. They have just purchased a new boat named Camelot. This is a serious upgrade for them. Camelot, with 2 helms, is huge compared to Voyager! Voyager was smaller then Sandpiper and had no refrigeration. So we shared lots of warm rum and powdered Crystal Light when visiting. Their new boat needs a lot of work because they are planning on crossing the Pacific on their new ride early next year. You can check them out at Camelot's new web site. Or better yet. if in the Bay Area, then stop by and say "Hello" for us.

We have also been working on Podcasts this last month that brother Ron is putting together and hopefully will be posted very soon. Stay tuned!!

Tom and Amy

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