leave the big continent of Australia – we will be back
After rounding Cape
York we were no longer sailing north. We altered the course to west
and the ”end”-destination was Darwin. The plan was to give
Eirik his 6 month vaccination before leaving Australia. Therefore we
didn’t have the intention of arriving in Darwin too early.
After sailing across the Gulf of Carpentaria in light winds we anchored
in Gove Harbour. Many yachts were anchored outside Gove Yacht Club.
In most of the yachts people were living onboard in Gove for a long
time, but some were just passing by. When we told that we were staying
only one or two nights, the local people were smiling. They had heard
this story before – and knew we were going to stay longer. Because
of the friendliness and the hospitality of the people in Gove, one night
suddenly became a week.
In Gove we also got to know Frances, Ted and Bjørn. They lived
in their yacht Kaylie anchored outside Gove Yacht Club – for the
fourth year. Australian Frances was born with long voyaging parents.
So was also Swedish Ted. Frances and Ted even met many years ago on
a long voyage in their parents yachts. Their 15 year old son Bjørn
don’t know any other home than their sailboat. First time Bjørn
attended “regular” school was when s/y Kaylie settled outside
Gove. Before that, his parents did all the teaching onboard, when sailing
all over the world. Onboard s/y Kaylie they also sailed in Patagonia
– a few years before Empire sailed in the same area.
Even though we have been on our voyage with Empire for some years, we
felt like beginners meeting people like Frances and Ted. In a few years
when Bjørn has graduated from high school, s/y Kaylie will throw
off for another long voyage…
not so young
On our way inside The Great Barrier Reef we met some sailors on a longer
voyage, but we did not meet any sailors our age (note – Eivind
still thinks he is twenty-seven). Most of the sailors we met were several
years older (not our intension to offend anyone?). When we met Kate
(24) and Rob (31) onboard the Canadian boat Aries Tor, it was very nice
to meet someone “about” our age. We didn’t only have
many of the same interests, we were also heading in the same direction
– towards Thailand for Christmas.
When we hoisted the anchor outside Gove, we were looking forward to
meet Aries Tor again – wherever that might be…
The Guarapari Rip – or “The hole in the Wall” is situated
a bit north of Gove. In these waters “The hole in the Wall”
is counted for as the test of manhood. “The hole” is a narrow
passage between two islands, where the current can set with up to 10
knots. The narrowest spot of the passage is only as little as two Empire
lengths wide… The Captain voted for a run through the “hole”
with the current on “full speed”, but the Mate put her foot
down. Instead we aimed for the small opening one hour before high tide
and sailed through on a nice breeze with the current setting about 6
knots. Aries Tor sailed through just before us and waited on the western
side, with their engine on full speed laying still in the current, video-filming
Empire’s passage through.
Light winds and flat sea was the main ingredients the rest of the voyage
towards Darwin, and the fishing was good. The fishing competition between
Aries Tor and Empire, which Eivind bragged on winning, was easily won
by Team Empire. In addition to two small (2x4kg) Bluefin Tuna and one
7kg Wahoo, we caught a 12kg Bluefin Tuna just before entering Darwin
in the country we fell in love with
Darwin is a small outpost in a deserted area of Australia. The city
may seem a little boring at first sight, but as soon as we got to know
the city we found it friendly and interesting. We tied up in Tipperary
Waters Marina, even though the anchorages around the city are pretty
good. Everything turns out to be much easier with a baby and a stroller,
when we don’t have to do the long dinghy-ride ashore.
To be allowed to enter one of the marinas in Darwin, the hull has to
be inspected on the outside for shells and algae, and the seawater-intakes
have to be disinfected. It sound as it is a thorough process, but it
is easily done by a diver – and the authorities cover all expenses.
The three marinas in Darwin are located in three different enclosed
saltwater pools. All boats have to be locked in and out because of the
huge tidal difference. We were locked in to Tipperary Waters Marina
at high tide. To enter the lock with a boat drawing two meters, the
tide has to be at least 4 meter above low tide…
We made good use of the connection that was established with Ian’s
sister (see earlier letter from Australia) in Darwin. Via Helen we received
several packages for Eirik and some for Empire. From the company SeaBa
in Norway we even received a (car) childrens seat with floating devices.
The company develops safety equipment for children in boats, and they
had heard that we got a child onboard in Australia.
If you are about to check out of Australia, you have to make an appointment
with Customs a few days before leaving. This is so that they before
the meeting can check their systems to see that you have behaved well
during your stay in the country. Two days before the meeting a custom
officer called and told us that he had found that everything was not
alright. He had discovered that Eirik didn’t have any visa for
his stay in Australia – something we of course knew. Eirik was
born in Australia.
Luckily this was just a formality. After a short meeting at the Immigration
Office, Eirik got the visa stamped in his brand new Norwegian passport.
We planned to leave Australia together with Aries Tor, but Eirik got
a spotted heat-rush so we postponed our departure until the heat-rush
had calmed down. Then we also got the time to visit Darwin Maritime
Museum and the Crocodile-park in the centre of town.
Eivind’s birthday was celebrated as we threw off and headed for
Indonesia. We planned to sail the 1000nm directly to Bali to check in
to Indonesia there. Underway we discovered that it would be more clever
to check in to Indonesia in Kupang on the Island (West-) Timor (still
Indonesia). This way we would avoid the temporary import fee for Empire
that the authorities in Bali try to claim, which is said to be 20 to
50 % of the boat value.
We anchored off Kupang in the middle of the day, after a four day long
voyage from Darwin – most of the hours propelled by the engine.
We soon realized that we had arrived in a “different” world…