Day 46 Darwin. We arrive on time at 10 AM to blue skies and warm temperatures. It is currently 86 and the highs for the day are now predicted in the mid to upper 90's. My tour doesn't leave until later, giving time for the day to warm up.
Darwin is a very modern city, being totally destroyed in WWII and then again by a typhoon in the early 70's. It is primarily an industrial shipping port, but tourism is becoming a significant part of the local economy. Natural gas, lumber, bauxite, nickel and other minerals are major exports.
Last night ventriloquist and comedian Patrick Murray gave us another very enjoyable performance with his dummy Matilda. Personally I think he has been one of the best of the many good entertainers we have had so far.
Debby was called to play in the Pinnacle Grill for a special function last night so instead we had two musicians from the orchestra playing during the time slot Debby is usually at the piano. They played with a great deal more energy than Debby, don't spend as much time talking about a song as playing it, and delivered a very enjoyable time for all even though they refused to sing any of the songs played. They played every song that was requested, and most from memory.
Yesterday I spent about 45 minutes with Myron, the shore excursion manager, filling him in on some of my past observations about some issues with the tour escorts, and tours themselves. He immensely appreciated the the information on the escort, and already was aware of the problems with the tour guide at the Opera House. As I suspected, the only reason our tour didn't get to see the main hall was because the tour guide didn't know what he was doing. HAL maintains an evaluation of each tour guide they encounter. In many cases they ask for specific guides that have done a good job previously, and in this case they will never accept this tour guide in the future.
There are at least 6 trucks with provisions already lined up on the dock. There are also three refrigerated containers. I wonder if we will get propellers here? At least more goldfish? Definitely getting meat string, Planter's mixed nuts, and bar stock.
Many of you know that I have always liked being around water, so today I am taking a boat ride around Darwin harbor. I might be deprived of salt air if I don't get out on the water once and awhile.
Due to our later departure at about 8 PM, the only entertainment tonight is the movie "The Martian" showing in the Queen's Lounge. I doubt if I will attend.
I'm back from my tour, and surprisingly learned a new rule for tour buses. I thought I had written about all of them already but hadn't. Tour bus drivers should always take driving directions from the guides. We were on a very narrow road in a park that ended in a "T". The guide told the driver to go to the left, that it would circle around to the exit. You know the rest, about a half mile or more later the road ended and there was no room for the bus to turn around. The driver had to back down the narrow twisty road. Like all Aussies I've encountered he was good natured about it, and yes he did an excellent job. I didn't hear the guide giving him any other driving tips.
Tides here in Darwin can be up to 30 feet. Since leaving this morning, the tide has risen over 20 feet, making the ramp back to the ship very steep. Because of the extreme tides they have built pleasure boat harbors with locks to the ocean. The basin is allowed to only fluctuate a few feet. Water from the ocean is used to fill the lock and the basin on high tide, and water from the basin fills the lock on low tide. Very ingenious, I had never heard of this being done before. Besides the infrastructure of the basin being less costly to build, the other advantage is that the shoreline around the basin remains much more attractive than it would be if there were a 25 foot change in water level twice a day.
I don't know what the high temperature was today, but it had cooled to 93 by sunset. I escaped any rain, but there is still the possibility of a storm tonight.
We set our clocks back another 30 minutes tonight. We are now only 14 hours ahead of Florida. (7 AM in Florida, 9 PM here.) We will be at sea for the next two days, scheduled to arrive in Benoa (Denpasar), Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday, Feb 23.