Y – Yachting Holiday – Hawkesbury River, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to my series: Places I’ve Been for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

Today, we’re jumping back into our time machine and re-setting the date for the 13th December, 1982. We’ve just arrived at Mangrove Creek, where we’ll be picking up the yacht and sailing down onto the Hawkesbury River. Of course, you’ll be meeting my Mum and Dad, my ten year old brother and my 13 year old self. By the way, you might notice that my Dad bears an uncanny likeness to British actor, John Cleese. I always used to wonder why people used to say to him:”Nudge, nudge wink wink, say no more”. However, the world’s full of so many mysteries for a kid, and this was just one of many which were never sufficiently explained.

My apologies for the lack of photos. My 13 year old self wasn’t much chop with the camera, and the camera wasn’t much chop either. I’m pretty sure I was still using my Kodak Instamatic, which had the cartridge of film you put in the back which you dropped off at your local chemist for processing. My parents and brother have also requested not too subtly, that I don’t post their photos on Facebook or the blog, and I mostly honour that request.

Anyway, on the 13th – 18th December, 1982 our family spent five days onboard a yacht slowly sailing from Mangrove Creek along the Hawkesbury River into Pittwater.  Mangrove Creek is a tributary of the Hawkesbury River which flows into Broken Bay not far from where we now live at Umina Beach on the NSW Central Coast.  We also stopped off at a picnic spot called The Basin where they have a shark net set up for swimming. My Dad flew over the Hawkesbury River once when he was young and saw loads of sharks in the water. So, beyond The Basin, swimming was out.

My Dad’s had an almost life long interest in sailing, and has since become a fully-fledged sailor. That is, even if he hasn’t completed the Holy Grail…the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

However, back in 1983, he hadn’t quite gained his stripes. So when the bloke hiring out the yacht asked Dad if he could sail, he could give an honest “yes”. However, I only found out a few months ago, that Dad didn’t actually know how to stop the boat. Of course, this was only a minor detail, and thankfully, everything went swimmingly well. My Dad in his typical try his hand at anything fashion, pulled it off and we were right.

By the way, “she’ll be right, mate” is something of an Aussie creed. It’s more or less  the reverse of catastrophizing where you just take everything in your stride. Of course, the little Aussie battler who’s even had it harder than most, will always triumph in the end. If they don’t, they’ll probably just find their way down to the pub.


One of the things I clearly remember from the trip, is that the yacht came with a dingy out the back with a pair of oars for rowing out to shore. While Dad took us out for a bit of exploring, clearly the idea was to go out by yourself. However, Dad had this thing about needing to pass your rowing licence first. Of course, my younger brother who was more sporty and better coordinated, received his licence straight away, and was able to scoot off without me. However, it took me a few goes, which I was naturally unhappy about. Indeed, I was a ball of angst…sad, angry, jealous, disappointed…every intense emotion you can think of under the sun. Of course, being 13 and the eldest didn’t help either. Well, eventually, I also managed to get my rowing licence and loved exploring the little bays and beaches along the Hawkesbury River as well.


Another indelible memory, was when we sailed across the heads into Pittwater battling against strong winds and a larger swell. Indeed, I still remember the slap of the salty wind in my face, and my hair taking flight. As the yacht keeled right over with the gunnels in the water, I was helping Dad with the ropes and loving every minute. The exhilaration of speed and flying into the salty, ocean wind was incredible. However, my mother and brother were both below deck and couldn’t stand it. After my difficulties getting my rowing licence, it felt particularly good to be outdoing my brother at this point, even if he was younger than me. This was my moment of triumph, but I also truly loved sailing.

Above: we went out sailing around much the same area on the 19th December, 2010 with my parents and our kids almost 27 years to the day after our family sailing holiday and now, even that’s 10 years ago.

Although we’re now mostly a sailing family, we’ve only ever had that one family holiday sleeping onboard the yacht. Indeed, we still haven’t christened Dad’s current yacht, which is quite a shame. It would be rather magical to fall sleep on nature’s water bed, don’t you think?

Have you ever been out on a yachting or boat holiday where you’ve actually slept onboard? Or, perhaps you’re more of a day sailor? Or, you love your land legs. Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,


8 thoughts on “Y – Yachting Holiday – Hawkesbury River, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

  1. lindamaycurry

    We have had trailer sailers for much of our married life. Our daughter aged 2 weeks had her first good night’s sleep in the rocking of our newly purchased RL24. We sold our last boat a couple of years ago as we felt the caravan was enough. We miss it so much and as my husband has had some bad health recently and “lost his mojo” I’m toying with the idea of getting another boat. Not a wise financial decision but the freedom of dropping anchor wherever you ( and the prevailing wind) wants is incomparable. I’m looking forward to reading more of your sailing blogs.

  2. Rowena Post author

    I hope you’re husband is okay, Linda. It’s a hard time to have a health issue flaring up. I’ve been avoiding the doctors, my blood tests the works but will go and get my flu jab after Mother’s Day. Mum had hers a week or so ago, and had to cancel our visit this weekend because she had symptoms.
    Boats do seem to be a money pit but the joy of being out on the water is amazing. We have a friend who kayaks a couple of times a week and we’ve been out with him a few times and I could really get out there today onto the water but there seems to be a lot to do at home and I can’t see it happening. I do a few jobs and come back to my blogging. I’m havin a wonderful time browsing yours and Crystals blogs and everything I come across along the way. I really loved that poem by Eliza Cook and looked up her other poems. They’re beautiful. I’m a poet , although I don’t write as much poetry now as I used to. I’ve been writing a lot more Flash Fiction, which is a short story 100 words in length.

  3. Rowena Post author

    Sorry, it’s taken me a few days to reply. I’ve been reading through some A-Z posts and travelling all over the countryside online. Well, at least that was yesterday. That was my relaxation and social time after a reasonably stressful time getting the kids sorted with school online.
    I would dearly love to be out on the kayak or boat today. It’s only marginally chilly and the sun is out. It’s actually a rather beautiful day and I should get out there. Haven’t been for a walk for a few days and I’m trying to talk myself into it but so much to do at home as well. We’ll see…

  4. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Michael. I would dearly love to sleep overnight on a yacht again snuggled away in an isolated bay. Absolute bliss!

  5. Liam

    I understand the feeling. It’s beautiful outside but going outdoors seems too much trouble what with wearing masks and dodging other people.

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