The World ARC - currently 22 yachts - have now re-grouped as a fleet once again in Darwin following an enjoyable free cruising period sailing up the Eastern coast of Australia. Their imminent departure from the north coast of the country is a significant one, as it will mark the start of the second half of their circumnavigation.
The yachts have all visited some stunning locations as they travelled north from Mackay, making their way through the world famous Great Barrier Reef, stopping along the way in iconic destinations such as the beautiful Whitsunday Islands - which many World ARC participants have reported to be amongst their highlights of their whole adventure so far.
After successfully completing their mandatory hull inspections from the Australian Quarantine Dept on arrival, the boats proceeded either to Tipperary Waters Marina or - for the larger yachts in the fleet - Cullen Bay Marina. The fleet have been taking the opportunity to complete routine maintenance and get the boats fully prepared for the Indian Ocean Passage.
On Wednesday, the official programme started with a crew dinner at Seafood on Cullen overlooking Fannie Bay. Participants enjoyed an endless selection of seafoods, steaks and a variety of local cuisine at a beautiful buffet, accompanied by stunning backdrop of a vivid orange sunset.
The dinner was a good opportunity for the participants to get back together and share stories of their independent sailing adventures up the east coast, and also to welcome the new additions to World ARC, including Terje and Pia on Aurora Polaris; Matt, Rob, Nicky and Sydney on Influencer; Simon, Douglas and Donald on Lydia; Helen and Martine on Misto; and Steve and Anita on Timshel.
An exciting adventure awaits for all of them to start together soon, but it was also a time to wave goodbye to their good friends Dieter, Ursula and Wiener on Christine who are now sailing down the West coast of Australia to Perth to join their daughter who moved there few years ago.
On Thursday morning participants enjoyed a boat cruise down the Adelaide River, where they were able to see the famous “Saltie” crocodiles in their natural habitat. Fortunately they were able to see the well known 5.5m long croc “Brutus” famous after having catch a bull shark in the river a few years ago. Our local guide shared a wealth of information about the ecological systems in the area and how they have changed over the years.
During the weekend the fleet also had time to explore the amazing Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks.
Litchfield is conveniently located an hour and a half drive from Darwin and boasts amazing waterfalls, magnetic termite mounds and historic ruins. The crystal-clear swimming holes and nice bushwalking trails make Litchfield a favourite among locals.
Kakadu is a World Heritage listed National Park that covers 20,000 square kilometres with very diverse habitats and breathtaking landscapes. Many find the ancient rock art and stories of the Aboriginal tribes fascinating. Some chose the campervan experience, others an organized tour.
On Sunday evenings in Darwin, Mindil Beach is the place to be! Renowned for the magnificent tropical sunset, the Mindil Beach Market provides visitors and locals a vibrant, friendly and stimulating environment to enjoy culinary delights and peruse artisan crafts. Live entertainment includes street performers, live bands and cultural fire shows. Many of the participants were able to experience this fabulous market and take home some unique souvenirs from Darwin.
Monday was a busy day getting prepared to depart and sail onward. As anticipated, Australian Border Force completed the customs and immigration check out procedure in a timely manner and the reality set in that it was time to say goodbye to Australia.
On Monday afternoon, the Skipper’s Briefing was held at Frying Nemo in Tipperary, followed by Goodbye drinks sponsored by Jeff, the owner of Tipperary water Marina.
Finally all ready to go, the fleet took the start this morning in very light wind conditions. Aranui was the first across the start line fully under sail, followed closely by Timshel, Madrigal, Mad Monkey and then Pinta.
The fleet is already making good progress to cover the 920NM taking them north west to Gili Gede in Lombok, Indonesia, with some sailing at 6.5KN in 17Knt of breeze.
The first boat Influencer who left earlier on Saturday is expected to arrive in Lombok this Friday 7 of September with the rest of the fleet expected a few days later.
Unfortunately, Smoke and Roses - who had experienced engine problems coming into Darwin - will have to wait for more repairs until they can hopefully depart safely from Australia next week. They plan to head directly for Christmas Island to meet with the rest of the fleet after they depart Indonesia.