Darwin

Darwin is hot and humid, even at this time of year. You need to have your boat intakes treated by a diver and be quarantined on an outlying jetty for 10 hours before you can enter a marina. The two marinas are lock-in lock-out, because of the tidal range. Tipperary Waters marina, where we were, is small and rather airless, and there are sand-flies because of the neighbouring mangroves. So far so mediocre. Now for the usual Australian redemption factors: the people are friendly and welcoming; there is a convivial fish restaurant in the marina run by Eddie; shopping and provisioning are good; and the technical support is first class.

It was the latter which was most important to us. After much time in lay-up followed by a demanding shakedown cruise from Bundaberg, Lydia needed technical attention. The priority was the auto-pilot, which was attended to by Wayne, the local Raymarine rep. All other niggles were addressed and put right.

We took a boat with barred sides up the Adelaide river to meet Brutus the crocodile and a number of his fellow denizens. Brutus merits his name, look him up on Google. I hope seldom to encounter such a mean-looking creature.

Douglas and Simon hired a 4WD car and spent a couple of nights in the Lichfield and Kakadu parks, which they thoroughly enjoyed. They will need to tell their own story. The skipper, having had a crack at the Outback with Nicola in February, and having his list of concerns on the boat, stayed behind.

By Tuesday 4th September we were ready for departure and the re-start of the rally.