Day 76, Year 3: Exhausted in Darwin
Date: Thursday, July 24, 2008
Weather: FINE
Location: Fannie Bay, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

We always laugh when they give the weather reports on the VHF radio in Australia. It seems all they ever say is, “Weather – fine.” And it is, with the exception of the high winds this week. Getting to and from the boat to land has been a real chore. We are about a mile out. Even in calm weather it is quite a hike, but with the choppy seas, we get soaked while feeling like we are riding a bucking bronco. This morning when we went to shore, a catamaran was dragging anchor and caught the anchor
off the bow of a monohull, so then the two boats were dragging together. I could hardly see what was happening because we were getting blasted with waves of water coming over the bow of our dinghy. This made me think of our friends Tim and Teresa Speigel back in Concord, New Hampshire. Once when we took them sailing in very windy, rough conditions, Jim turned to me and said, “And this is what you do for fun?!” Well, it is what we do for fun, but I must admit that this week has been challenging.
Trying to carry heavy provisions out to Windbird in these conditions is really not fun. We are exhausted, but we are done. And now that we are done, the winds are predicted to drop to almost nothing over the weekend which means we will be motoring to Kupang. Too much wind when we don’t need it and not enough when we do. That is the plight of a sailor. At least fuel is cheaper in Indonesia, so it won’t be quite so hard on the budget as it has been in Australia.

Today I took the bus out to a the huge Casuarina Mall to do the last grocery shopping while Mark stayed at the Sailing Club uploading photos to the website. With the very, very slow connection, we have had to reduce our expectations. If we are very lucky, we will get photos uploaded through Lizard Island. And from Lizard Island onward, we are going to have to upload way fewer photos than we have been. Indonesia, like northern Australia, certainly doesn’t have the internet capability for photo
uploading. We’ll have to hope things are better in Malaysia and Thailand, but that is three months away. Skype calls are also going to be limited in the meantime. I guess the best we can hope for is that our Ham radio Winlink email can keep us connected. Even that is challenging in this part of the world. We heard a cruiser from England saying today that there is only one Ham station between here and England. We have been using Fairbanks, Alaska to get our email out of here, but that’s probably
not going to continue once we head west. In addition to the free, ham operated Winlink, there is a subscriber network called Sailmail. We haven’t used that since the Caribbean, but we might have to re-subscribe to Sailmail in order to keep connected. Tomorrow morning Customs will be here at the Sailing Club to check out the 120 Rally boats. We assume we will be sitting here most of the day waiting our turn, but that will give us a chance to talk to other cruisers about communication so we can
make a decision on what we need to do.

Last night we talked to Heather, Jed, and Sam on Skype and we got to see Sam on the video cam and he could see us as well. He would point to the computer and “talk” to us in Sam language. It is probably our hopeful imagination, but he really seems to recognize us. We surely enjoy watching him. When we call at night here, it is his early morning, so we got to watch him eating breakfast and starting his day. We are going to try another call tonight, and that will be the last until Kupang. After
that there will be only one other stop where we will have internet access until we reach Bali in late September. So I am definitely going to have grandmother withdrawal.

We truly haven’t had any time to think about our trip through Indonesia since arriving here. We have a basic outline of a sailing plan, but we need to read and check out many sources before making a final sail plan. There are so many islands in Indonesia, and we have limited time. Our current visa gives us 55 days after arrival in Kupang to reach Bali. We then have to apply for a 30-day extension that will get us to Singapore. We have about a four day sail from here to Kupang, East Timor and
we will be there for about a week before heading west across the Indonesian islands. During that time, we will come up with an ‘official’ sail plan for Windbird’s voyage through Indonesia.