"Arctracer" Letters

Darwin, Australia, Aug 2005

We are anchored in Darwin Harbour, near the Darwin Sailing Club. Our last sail in Australian waters was normal, with not much discomfort from too much wind and not much reliance on the engines due to too little wind. We saw several fishing trawlers straining the sea, but few big ships and no other yachts. With good weather we decided to pass the Wessel Islands without stopping, even though those are considered quite beautiful. The season is going fast, and we have many miles to travel in the next few months. Also, the top part of the country is reserved for Aboriginals, permission must be obtained in Gove before going ashore anywhere in Arnheim Land, and the Aboriginals generally do not want visitors. We saw one whale, some beautiful dolphins, several sea snakes and not many fish. So far we have not seen any crocodiles, but we are sure they are around so we will not swim at all here. It is noticeably warmer with midday temperatures in the 90s even though this is winter.

We plan to rent a car for some land touring next week. Darwin is quite a touristy town, with people from all over the world here to see the same things we want to see: Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge, and the flora, fauna and landscapes of Australia's "top end." We'll stock the boat with things we don't expect to find in Indonesia, do a few boat maintenance jobs, and get our Indonesian visas. In about two weeks we hope to be off to explore a new (to us) country. Already that seems like a huge undertaking, because Indonesia is so enormous and so complex. We have much to learn, even to decide where to spend our very limited time. Another cruising boat here has had some experience in that part of the world already, and we are trying to obtain some tips from them. We'll be busy here.