The less said about these tracks, the better. Best left to the imagination.
The less said about these tracks, the better. Best left to the imagination.
Yesterday, we went sailing at Sydney’s Palm Beach with my Dad. For sailing affectionados, the yacht was a 34 ft Catalina. Given our close encounter with the sea plane, I should also clarify the yacht wasn’t a WWII aircraft.
More of a photographer than sailor, it was my job was to sit in my Princess seat, making sure I didn’t fall overboard. Same with the lad, except now that he has his level 2 sailing certificate, more was expected from him…especially knowing the difference between port and starboard, stern and bow. Actually, even I know that.
You could say that the Catalina has a few bells and whistles. This includes an in-mast furled mainsail, which means you just need to use the winch to get the sail up and down. By the way, I’m merely ballast on these sailing trips, so that’s the full extent of my technical expertise.
Yet, sailing on the Catalina is obviously much more luxurious than our humble Laser. At the same time, I miss being right on the water, though I love not having to keep a constant eye on the boom. Ouch!
Naturally, we’ve been out on the Catalina before. However, we’ll dubb yesterday’s sail: “Who Has Right of Way?”
Dad was letting the rest of us steer, which was great fun but we don’t know all the intricacies of sailing etiquette. This meant we were constantly checking …especially being the Christmas holiday break. There was a huge cacophony of craft on the water. A veritable fruit salad of yachts, water skiers, kayakers, paddle boarders, ferries and even the sea plane thrown in.However, being under sail and something about being under a starbord tack, the lot moved out of our way…even the ferry.
While I know I said I was ballast, I did have an extensive turn steering the yacht. That is, under my father’s much needed supervision. You could also say that I had considerable assistance from my husband and son. I have no sense of direction and could get lost in a paper bag.
Yet, since I can drive a car, you’d probably think steering the yacht would’ve been second nature…a proverbial piece of cake. However, steering a yacht is a very different kettle of fish (thought I’d sneak that one in too!). After all, the road has lanes, which prevent me from swerving all over the place. However, you obviously don’t go sailing in the local pool and there are no marked lanes. Moreover, there’s no auto-correct built into the steering either. So, every time I over-correct, I have to compensate.
It wasn’t pretty.
Indeed, no doubt to the trained observer, our meandering yacht appeared very confused. Indeed, perhaps the Water Police were all set to arrest the “drunken sailor”. Not that I’d had a drop. Indeed, I was stone sober.
That’s when my Dad kindly suggested:”maintaining some kind of course and not moving the steering wheel quite so much”!
Meanwhile, my son wasn’t so kind and my husband “helped” whenever we passed another craft.
I didn’t mind. I have no ego and would rather bumble along having a go, than staying in my Princess seat being decorative. After all,when you carpe diem seize the day, you get used to wearing egg on your face. Moreover, you get less and less self-conscious when you step out of your box onto someone else’s turf and don’t need to get it right. Be perfection personified. You can just be your pure, unadulterated self in its shining glory.
By the way, if you’re not into sailing, you might not fully appreciate its complexities. That there are actually many restraints and limitations you can’t appreciate from land. So, you’re not as free as a bird and sailing isn’t a surrealist dream.
Far from it.
Rather, all of your senses are constantly switched on looking out for other craft, reading the wind and maintaining an equally keen eye on what’s going on beneath the water. You’re especially needing to monitor the depth of the water and changing underwater landscapes. After all, while the dangers of crashing into another boat are more obvious, you don’t want your keel getting stuck…or worse. Fortunately, the yacht has sonar which provides a depth reading and underwater map, taking away much of the dodgy guess work. Yet, you still need to be alert and Captain the thing. Machines are simply there to assist, not take over.
Consequently, sailing is like watching that proverbial duck gliding along. Serene and peaceful from a distance, there’s a lot of work going on beneath the surface to keep the yacht moving, safe and on track.
However, all these safety concerns ramped up a notch, when I noticed the sea plane coming in to land. The sea plane flies from Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour to Palm Beach and is an incredible site to watch…theatre in motion.
I was tracking the sea plane through the lens, when it suddenly took a sharp turn and we were staring eye to eye. That’s right. The yacht was smack bang on the runway.
That’s when Geoff asked Dad who had right of way…the yacht or the plane?
If you don’t sail, you might not appreciate that sailing is like a game of chess. That determining who has right of way, is an intrinsic part of sailing and this fundamental rule can determine the safety of the players. One false move could prove deadly…especially when it means taking on the sea plane head on.
At this point, I didn’t care who had right of way. I was all for exit stage left. After all, as Geoff’s uncle, a returned serviceman, used to say: “Some rights are worth dying for. The right of way isn’t one of them!”
However, although it felt like the sea plane missed us by a whisker, there was never any doubt. The plane was in like Flynn.
Mind you, I felt sorry for the pilot trying to land in that dog’s breakfast, wondering how many of them actually looked up? Indeed, did they even know it was there?
Of course, this is where I came into my own. The rest of the world might have disappeared, but my zoom lens was fixated on that plane tracking its every move. Indeed, it was glued. The plane was zooming in closer and closer just about to land and my trigger finger was going ballistic.I was in photographic, wow! wow! heaven.
Just as well Geoff was steering! I was so single-focused that the lens could’ve smacked straight into the sea plane before I’d registered any form of contact.
What a day! Sailing, photography, scenery, sea air…
Oh happy days!
Yesterday, we levitated out of our post-Christmas slumber to go sailing with my Dad. His yacht is moored at a mysterious location known locally as: “Dark Gully”. Before you start thinking he’s a pirate or smuggler of sorts, Dark Gully is in Palm Beach, a place made famous overseas by the hit drama series: Home & Away.
Mind you, just because Dark Gully gets its name from being sheltered from the sun, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its mysteries. Top of the list, is a sandstone cave which has a window and a door. Of course, it doesn’t take much imagination to view this mysterious hide-out as an Aladdin’s Cave. A treasure trove overflowing with some kind of stash more interesting than broken boat parts, tangled fishing lines and last year’s empties. Unfortunately, despite extensive surveillance while we were living in the area, I’ve never witnessed even the twitch of a twig outside that place. I swear they come and go by moonlight and yes, the moon is on that side of the hill.
By the way, speaking of not seeing things in the area, the late George Michael lived just over that hill and I didn’t see him coming or going either. Not that I was operating some kind of amateur surveillance or stalking operation down there. As far as I was concerned, the water was always an empty, black ink. Of course, I sort of knew there were flying mullet, stingrays and sharks lurking beneath the depths, but I never saw much action on top of the water. There was just the huge yacht which moored a few metres away from our boat ramp every Christmas. Humph… there could well have been activity there. However, I was too busy photographing the moon to notice. Yes, that’s right I was stalking sunsets and moon rises with my camera, not celebrities I didn’t know were there.
Next up…sailing at Dark Gully and you can also read about exploring Dark Gully and Palm Beach in this previous post: Exploring Palm Beach…Our Borrowed Backyard.
Photo: Rowena Curtin: Sunset Pittwater
Olive lives in Denmark and produces a stunning travel blog with some very striking images. Being Australian, I really appreciate being able to explore other parts of the world with her. So don’t hang around here – go check her out!Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:
On Day 2, I am nominating three people who are into sailing or water sports:
“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.”
― Richard Bach,
Yesterday, we went out sailing with my Dad over at Pittwater. Pittwater is part of the Hawkesbury River estuary on the Northern edge of Sydney. We started out at the Palm Beach Marina, motoring up to Newport for petrol and then sailed back down via Scotland Island.
The royal “we” in this instance being Geoff, Mister and myself. Miss spent the day with Grandma. She is still developing her sea legs and is best going at her own pace. We, on the other hand, longed to feel the wind in the sails, the gunnels in the water and feel ourselves suspended off the edge of the known universe.
Well, that’s my idea of sailing but to be fair, we’re sailing around Pittwater. We’re not out at sea and it’s something akin to sailing in a bathtub…not a lot of risk but you certainly get a taste of something sensational.
While I’ve experienced these thrills a few times, we’ve probably had more experience with a lack of wind. What sailors call: “the doldrums”. Of course, this is quite a different wrestling with the elements.Not only is it extremely frustrating when you’re going nowhere and longing for that thrilling breeze. It can also make for a long row home and brings home emphasise the beauty of petrol power as well.
Indeed, we did use quite a bit of petrol power yesterday.
We started out from the Palm Beach Marina and then motored down to Newport for petrol. It seemed funny having a petrol stop while “sailing” but motoring can be your salvation.
While at Newport, we spotted Wild Oats X. Not quite the same as seeing the mighty Wild Oats XI winner of eight Sydney-Hobarts 2005–2014 (eight) but still a thrill.
As much as I was there to enjoy the sailing, or indeed motoring, naturally I was also there to soak up the view with my eye. Feel transformed, rejuvenated, inspired in some way. For me, this is as much about photography, writing and just having what I’d call something of a spiritual relationship with the sea, the sun and just being out in the vast outdoors. I had a really overwhelming sense of space and even emptiness out there. When we set out, we were the only boat out on the vastness of Pittwater. At least, it seemed that way. Yet, Pittwater is part of Sydney, a world class city with over 4 million people. Whenever I’m out there, I think of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and that rustic river experience. I’m definitely not in a big city.
Leaving Newport, we spot a group of kids learning to sail on a small boat called the Optimus or Opti. The kids are learning to sail on these at sea scouts. They look like bathtubs with sails attached but they’re great to learn on.
Up until this point, Dad or Geoff have been steering and we’ve been under motor but now it ‘s time to unfurl the mainsail and Mister is at the helm steering the boat. He’s doing a great job, although he’s more used to using a tiller where you have to reverse your directions to reach your destination. He seems to adapt automatically. Dad starts talking to him about ” and “starboard” “red light”, “green light” and while I joke about having difficulty knowing my left and right, I realise I need to master this lingo myself today and I’ll be having a steer too. Or, what Dad calls “a sail”.
Indeed, it’s now my turn.
I am actually the least experienced “sailor” on board. Knowing that I don’t have great fine-motor skills and navigation has never been my strength, I am a bit cautious but this is like learning to drive in the back paddock. There’s barely anyone out here and it’s a great opportunity to get started. Indeed, it reminds me of my first driving lesson in a way. Although the yacht isn’t bunny-hopping through the water, I’m definitely over-steering and we’re swinging backwards and forwards towards my marker. I’m also so focused on trying to keep the bow on course, that I don’t have the mental energy to lookout for other boats. I am 100% focused on that spot. You know what it’s like when you’re learning to drive. That’s why you have an instructor!
The yacht we were on yesterday was a Catalina and quite a different experience to being on a laser or even a smaller yacht. It’s much more substantial and a much more “civilized” affair. Even under sail, you weren’t constantly ducking and weaving to avoid the boom as you went about. Indeed, almost the entire trip I was poised up in my princess chair truly living the life.
Well, I was until my hat blew into the water. Being more aerodynamic that a sail, the wind ran off with my hat and was unceremonious dumped near a decrepit hulk. Of course, with view towards rescue and recovery, being close to another vessel wasn’t good. Fortunately we were under motor when the hat went but even still maneuvering ale yacht around to retrieve a flimsy bit of cloth which may well be sinking, wasn’t going to be easy.
Meanwhile, the sea gulls which had made the hulk home, took an instant dislike to my invading hat. To them, no doubt it was perceived as a potentially dangerous UFO. They started swooping at it with plover-like agro as it floated helplessly by. While Dad has his doubts, Geoff plucked the hat back to safety and I was given another “I told you so”. Yes, Geoff had told me that you can’t go sailing without a cord on your hat but like a resistant teenage girl, I didn’t want a cord on my hat. It’s my everyday hat and when you’re not sailing, a cord looks a bit dicky on your hat once you’re out of pre-school.
So after a perfect day, we headed back home. Grateful for how all those magic ingredients miraculous came together. Or, indeed, thankful that my Dad had researched the weather and the wind to boost the odds.
Watching the sun sparkle across that magic diamond carpet, such a deep and brilliant blue against the golden sand bathing in glorious golden sun, we headed home.
We are sailing, we are sailing
‘Cross the sea
We are sailing
To be near you,
To be free
Sailing, Rod Stewart
Have you ever been sailing? Where did you go? Any tales of the high seas?
On an incredible ferry ride home from Palm Beach, I captured (or at least, attempted to capture) this magnificent sunset which seemed to go so well with these words from Tagore.