Yacht in lock area

Cullen Bay Lock Procedures

Please ensure you follow these lock procedures to avoid any problems when going through the lock:

Call Lockmaster on VHF channel 11 or by phone on 0419 421363 to arrange transit through the lock. This must be done at least one hour prior to the desired entry time. Lock opening times are on the hour between 6am and 11pm seven days per week. You must also re-confirm your entry 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time by VHF11.


The Cullen Bay Marina is the only Marina in Darwin that can be accessed in  all tides. Above is a picture of the entry at a zero tide, clearly showing the channel that you must use. There are two orange lead markers on the southern bank that will guide you in. If you are unsure of the path you should take, the Mandorah Ferry departs regularly from Cullen Bay so simply follow their track. Once a month we have someone that fails to read the chart or follow leads our, and they end up on the mud banks to the east or west of the channel, not a good place to be on our seven metre tides as you will be left high and dry and relatively embarrassed.

Carefully guide the boat up the channel toward the lock. The channel is scheduled for re-dredging in 2017 when it will be at a depth of 2.5m at low zero tide, but until then extreme care must be taken. Please confirm with the Cullen Bay Lockmaster that you will have sufficient water for your vessels draft. If coming from the south via Emery Point and the sandbar, you must ensure however that you stay well clear of the eastern floating marker that marks the end of the sand bar (ensure the markers are to port when entering Cullen Bay) There are lead markers on the rock breakwater to guide you up the channel, but they are not always easy to spot. The lockmaster will usually provide some guidance to boats if they need it.

When the lockmaster tells you to enter the lock, slowly enter and tie up to the side the lockmaster dictates. Put out as many fenders on that side as possible to protect the hull from the barnacle encrusted concrete wall. Boat captains must follow ALL orders of the lockmaster.  

Once in the basin, await instructions from the Lockmaster. Please note that the Cullen Bay located on the outside of the lock is a bump and go facility so please ensure you have permission to tie here prior to using this facility. Please note that vessels cannot be left un-attended whilst against this pontoon.

When the Lockmaster instructs you to enter the lock. slowly make you way and tie up to the side the lockmaster dictates. Put out as many fenders on that side as possible, to protect the hull from the barnacle encrusted concrete wall. Boat captains must follow all instructions from the Lockmaster. Ask the lockmaster how far you will either rise or fall in the process so you can determine how high or low you need to place your lines.

One person should be standing amidships with the stern line, and one person should be forward with the bow line or amidships line. Two lines must be used at all times. Pass the stern line between either the recessed piping and lock wall or the ladder and lock wall at the place where the stern of the boat will end up, making sure that it is far enough inside the lock so that the doors can close. Remember that the line should be placed as high or as low on the wall as you can reach to allow for the rise/fall of the boat.

Place a half wrap of the line around the boats cleat, but do not make fast. The helmsperson should turn off all engines after tying up. Only start engines once lock gates are open to exit from the lock.      

The lockmaster will then close the doors and start to fill or empty the lock of water to move the boat to the proper level of the water in the marina or outside. Either take in or let out on the lines as the boat rises or falls. Hold the lines securely, as there can be some turbulence inside the lock. If you are being raised the boat will move forward, if you are being lowered then the boat will remain stationary.

Once the proper water level has been reached, the lock doors will open. When given the instruction to move off by the Lockmaster, the helmsman should then pull the stern line free and back onboard while the bow person does the same. Slowly move forward out of the lock and into the marina. In general, if you are going in the lock at low tide, you may be rising as much at three to five meters, remembering that the Marina height is around 5.2 - 5.7m. For this reason it is better for vessel owners to try and transit at or near high tide. 
Cullen Bay Lock Usage Fee Structure
The Cullen Bay Marina By-Laws require that the owners of berths must maintain a lock opening permit for those berths and that the corporation may charge an appropriate fee for those lock opening permits for berths. Since its inception the corporation has charged berth owners that fee which is raised pursuant to by-laws 3 and 12. That fee is payable by the owners of berths, regardless of whether a vessel is moored at that particular berth or not.
The Cullen Bay Marina By-Laws also provide that the owner of a vessel being a local boat or visiting, must have a current lock opening permit in respect of the vessel (i.e. separate from the lock opening permit for the berth). Again, the by-laws provide that the corporation may charge an appropriate fee for such a vessel lock opening permit.
For calendar year 2006 and for subsequent years all vessels entering or leaving the boat harbour must have a vessel lock opening permit (i.e. separate from a berth lock opening permit which applies to the berth at which the particular vessel may be moored).
Private vessels (those vessels that are not ‘in survey’) are allowed unlimited exits once fees have been paid and lock licence is issued.
Commercial Vessels operating out of Cullen Bay will be charged at the agreed Commercial Rates. It is of note that Commercial Vessels can only operate out of Cullen Bay if the appropriate Commercial Operators Permit has been granted. For more information regarding this please contact Robbie Standaloft, the General Manager of CBMMC.
Casual users ( those vessels that are launched from the boat ramp) will be charged at the scheduled rate for a one off Vessel Lock Opening Permit. Casual users are to report to the Lockmasters office to purchase their VLOP before exiting from the lock.
Temporary users (those vessels that are visiting from other ports and are not normally berthed within the marina) will be charged a one off lock arrival fee and then they will be subject to the same conditions as for private or commercial vessels depending on their category. Fees must be paid to the lockmaster upon berthing.
Whilst the by-laws require that vessels have a lock opening permit, the by-laws do not require that the permit be printed and provided to each owner. The corporation intends to retain the permits in electronic form, but to make a hard copy available to each vessel owner should it be requested. The by-laws provide that the permit should contain certain information and you are invited to make contact with CBMMC to ensure that the following information in relation to your vessel

1. The full male and postal address of the Vessel Owner
2. The name and details of the Vessel
3. The Vessels allocated mooring location within the Marina

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