Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Civilized Darwin

From the Darwin Military Museum,
like most of the pics in this post

A big reason we went cruising was to see places different from the U.S. So I almost feel guilty writing this. But after spending so long in  areas where many people live in grass-covered huts and your choices in stores (when you can find one) are limited, it has been a nice break to spend some time in what we think of as civilization.

Darwin was bombed in WWII too. A lot.
Apparently Australia didn't really teach it
schools here for a long time.

There are two big grocery stores in town and friends that we have made here often have their favorite. For us, it's all heaven. We have been eating fresh broccoli, cauliflower, peaches and berries for the first time since I-don't-know-when.

From a memorial at the Military Museum

Not to make light, but this is not
a cause of death you see everyday for
a soldier.
Darwin has tons to do, especially for families. There are great public parks, including free water parks. We visited the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Darwin Military Museum. We learned lots about Darwin's history, including the Japanese bombings during World War II and Cyclone Tracy. We still haven't visited one of the crocodile parks (although we did see a croc in the wild, albeit at a distance), the Botanic Garden, or the Territory Wildlife Park. We're trying to balance boat tasks with fun stuff. I think boat stuff is winning.

Lizard on a tire.
Other than the "Darwin born-and-bred" foks we have met, much of its population is from somewhere else. It makes for a very diverse population, including the Aboriginal people who were here first, of course. Despite the general small-town friendliness and outgoing Aussie nature, there seems to be an awkward co-existence between the native and non-native Australians. There are always groups of native Aussies who sit around in various locations and have a disconcerting (to newcomers like me, anyway) habit of yelling at each other to communicate. It took me awhile to figure out that they weren't angry.

One local Australian cruiser complained that he could only buy 2 boxes of wine a day because that is the mode of drink favored by Aboriginal people, some of whom have issues with drinking. In that same vein, there's the requirement that anyone buying liquor show an ID (even old farts like us).


We finally got hauled out and are sweltering with the sand flies at Spot On Marine. It's what we get for coming here this time of year. The Roodberg lift was a new way of getting taken out of the water. The night before, we motored up to Fannie Bay, so that we could be at Spot On bright and early near high tide (around 6:30 am). We got tied up and waited for the tide to go down so that the machine could be put into place. There were a few disconcerting minutes as our hull bounced on the concrete ramp, before settling into place so we could be lifted.

The next day, Matt worked to bend the strut back. The bending bar that we had custom made in Indonesia couldn't be used because we didn't have enough clearance under the boat and Matt was only able to dig down about a third of the way needed into the hard ground before the blisters on his hands made him try another tack. The straps that he set up seemed to be working well, up until the point that the strut snapped and ricocheted into Matt's calf, leaving a grapefruit-sized lump. Miraculously, there was no swearing.

So now Matt will be grinding out the remainder of the strut (P-bracket as they call it in Commonwealth countries) and we will most likely be having a new one (or two--as a backup) fabricated. He has been missing fiberglass work. I'm pretty sure.

In other news, the main bolt for the windlass is seized up. So far, no amount of coaxing with Liquid Wrench, a levered winch handle (which actually bent under the strain), a butane torch, or a hammer will budge it. So today we got to explain to the kids what 0-for-2 means (as in, 'we are 0-for-2 on the two things we needed to be out of the water to work on'). Good thing we have been enjoying the blueberry pancakes that Matt has been whipping up. We might be eating them for awhile longer than we thought.

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