24/08/2015 – Darwin

The past couple of days have been filled with highs and one negative. The negative is the wind, barely there and very changeable! We have motored almost non-stop since Saturday morning, only turning it off for the radio net at 0900 and 1800. At times we could have sailed slowly but we wanted to catch the tide down the Dundas Straight at about 1900 on Sunday so we motored. Now for the positives. The seas have become smooth with only a slight swell allowing us to take showers comfortably. The watermaker is now working well, we have filled the tanks to the top twice since leaving Cairns. John has finally landed a fish; since leaving Mackay almost three weeks ago he has lost at least three fish. One broke the line taking the lure and weight with it, a second one mangled the lure and straightened out the hook to get away, a third managed to spit out the hook half way to the boat. John's prize for perseverance was a beautiful 2.7 kg Albacore Tuna, probably the best eating tuna you can catch. The final positive is that we transited the Dundas Straight in perfect tidal conditions, had weak tidal flow against us across Van Dieman's Gulf and picked up a positive tide through Clarence Straight. With easy motoring and little to do with the sails, left up for the odd helpful gust of wind, the galley slave has been busy. I'd just started to prep vegetables for Saturday night's dinner when John caught the fish. All prep stopped while I helped him boat it ('land' seems a bit of a misnomer) then I started the vegetables while John cut up the fish. I cooked the tail fillets quickly, a bit like steak, and they were delicious. While most of the fillets went in the freezer I kept one loin fillet aside for Tuna Carpaccio for Sunday's lunch. I made a loaf of French style bread by hand, quicker than using the bread maker but also messier! The Carpaccio recipe is a Rick Stein one with mustard vinaigrette and tomato and caper salsa, sadly I have no fresh herbs. Last dinner at sea, usually steak, was baked herb crusted chicken thighs stuffed with apricots and sun dried tomatoes, roast potatoes and ratatouille. Delicious. We anchored in Fannie Bay at 0930, just after Firefly and minutes before Exody. The initial inspection by divers was done quite quickly then we had to wait for Paul, the engineer, to come to the boat to treat all through hull fittings which exit below the water. Each seacock had to be closed and biocide introduced into the pipework, the engine and generator were treated by pouring the biocide liquid into the raw water filter as the engine was turned on, it was allowed to run for 30 seconds then switched off. The water maker inlet was excused as the biocide would wreck the membranes and they don't expect us to run the water maker while we are in the marina. Once completed we have to wait 10 hours before we can open the valves! We are due to lock into Tipperary Waters Marina at 1030 tomorrow so will have to get everything put back together and working before we lift the anchor. All this seems straightforward but the seacocks are not necessarily in the most accessible positions. Two are under the forward berth where we sleep, it is the biggest locker we have on the boat and houses our spare genoa! I cleared the locker while John repaired the outboard which broke down while he was ferrying Paul out to the boats. I managed to hoist the genoa out by winching it with a halyard, not easy as it isn't a straight pull. We'll sleep in the saloon tonight rather than stuff everything back in, make the bed, take the bed apart in the morning, heave everything out, open the seacocks then stuff everything back in etc. the aft cabin is also a no go area, the deck drains and heads sink have seacocks in lockers. Under the sink is easy, I just had to relocate the contents of the bottom shelf. Port side I emptied the hanging locker of lots of clothes which are now strewn on the berth which already had lots of things stowed on it. After 8 days at sea this is unwanted upheaval not helped by John spending the morning removing the evaporator plate, tubing and fridge compressor which of course necessitated emptying the cupboard under the sink. The good news is the new fridge kit has arrived at the marina, we can have showers because the outlet is above sea level and the aft heads, which we rarely use, hasn't been treated and so we can use it at anchor but must close off the seacock before we enter the lock into the marina tomorrow. Joyce

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