Rob and Karen Oberg spent a year and 7,200 nautical miles crewing on other people's boats in SE Asia and Europe before cruising the Mediterranean for 2 seasons with crewmate, Marc Beerts, on a Jeanneau 43 DS, Alcheringa (Alcheringa is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning 'The Dreamtime'). On returning to Australia they acquired a Whitby 42 ketch, renamed her 'Our Dreamtime' and now cruise Australia's Great Barrier Reef and soon the Western Pacific. Total sea miles to date = 16,855 NM.
We timed our departure from Port Essington at 9.00am to arrive at Cape Don just before the turn of the tide to get a tow towards Darwin. While the sea state was still fairly bumpy when we cleared the shelter of the headland we only had a lazy 10 – 12 knots of wind which was directly astern so this became a motor sailing day. We had set out with a reefed mainsail but soon decided to bring all the main out to make the most of what wind there was. In the process the traveller on the boom chose that particular moment to jettison all its ball bearings and detach itself from its track leaving the main to flap wildly.It was quickly hauled in, the state of affairs analysed and Rob scored max brownie points for coming up with a very effective jury rig option that soon had us back sailing as usual.
Desperately seeking phone service
Of far more importance was the impending State of Origin decider to be played in Brisbane that night. We weren’t going to reach Darwin till next morning so seeing the game was out of the question but would we be close enough to get a phone signal for sms updates from the our football made family? Since passing Port Douglas shortly after leaving Cairns only Rob has been able to get any sporadic phone service at all. His i-phone4 defied the breed’s alleged reputation for weak reception and often popped up with a signal in the strangest of places strong enough at least for text messages and sometimes internet and email. This occurred much to the disgust of Colin, Milin and Marc, all of whom tried everything with zero success despite all of us being with the same Telstra service.
We rounded Cape Don in the late afternoon and out came the i-phone, no service. Two hours to kick-off, no service. One hour to kick off, no service, building rugby league withdrawal symptoms and increasing anxiety levels for Rob. Then like something out of a TV soap opera script, up pops a single bar of service on the phone five minutes before kick off so to cover his bases, Rob texts both Rod and Felicity with a request for sms updates through the game. Both reply in the affirmative so all is good.
17 minutes later the good news arrives from Rod, Inglis scores for Queensland – Thurston converts. Felicity sends the news, 26 minutes into the game Thaiday scores for Queensland followed by Smith minutes later. Qld 18 – NSW 0 and looking hopeless. Rod messages that Yow Yeh is in at the 35 minute mark and we lead 24-0. Life is good –until the signal drops out. Wave the phone around, point it at Darwin. Point it at the lights in the distance at Melville Island. Try one arm in the air and tongue out. No go and it must be half time by now. BUGGER! Fifteen minutes later the phone buzzes with an sms from Felicity says that Inglis just scored the first try of the game Qld 6 NSW 0. What the?
More silence, no signal again. Damn! The game should just about be over by now. Surely the Maroons couldn’t lose from 24-0, but this is Origin. Waiting, waiting, – stupid Telstra – waiting, waiting stupid i-phone, waiting, waiting. Suddenly the phone goes mental as a sliver of service is found and almost twenty messages from Rod and Felicity pour in, all totally out of time order. After decoding the mess of information, Queensland has won our sixth Origin series in a row 34 – 24 in the most confusing game ever witnessed – well from this end anyway.
So Rob survives his anxiety filled shift across the open waters of the Gulf and goes to bed happy at the end of his 9pm to Midnight watch leaving Karen to steer Nae Hassle on towards Darwin, around the shipping, through the reefs and shoals on her 12 to 3am shift all with the tide changing and the wind swinging from astern to near on the nose. No stress there.
Sunrise over Darwin City
Later we experience an incredible sunrise over the high rises of Darwin as we approach the harbour. Absolutely stunning and a great welcome to Australia’s northern gateway. After doing a number of circuits of the harbour waiting for the lockmaster to let us in we’re tied up in Tipperary Waters Marina by 8.30am and stepped ashore for the first time in 16 days.
Port Essington to Darwin -147 nautical miles – 23.5 hours – average speed 5.78 knots – No fish but a 6th State of Origin Series win in a row – Queenslanderrrrrrrrr!
Cairns – Darwin totals = 16 Days marina to marina - 1267 nautical miles – 9 days 3 hours sailing – average speed 5.8 knots.
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