It’s currently Sunday night, and I’m currently watching Masterchef Junior Australia. So, this week I thought we should try to nut out some way of breaking into the TV set and running off with all their goodies. Sounds good, doesn’t it?!! A serving of lobster mornay, followed by handmade ravioli with lemon tart with berries for dessert followed by Spiced Chocolate Tart. Hey why stop there? I think I’ll add a third dessert and also go for the Masterchef interpretation of Smores using marshmallow made from Davidson Plum. I have no shame. Besides, with this being a virtual meal, we can gourge ourselves without consequence and no fear of impersonating Monty Python’s Mr Creosote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U
How was your week?
Last week, was the second week of school holidays for my kids. On Tuesday, our daughter and I caught the ferry across to Palm Beach where we met up with my Dad and spent a few hours out sailing across Pittwater. It was a really special day, because we haven’t been out on the boat with Dad for a few years , and we also haven’t seen him and my mum for a few months as we’ve been playing it safe re Covid. On top of that, it was also special to snaffle our daughter away from her friends for the day, and time with her has become a precious commodity, especially with all the hours she puts into her dance. However, there were also a few disappointments as well. While we’ve been having some wonderfully sunny Spring days lately, on Tuesday it was grey and overcast, which isn’t great for photography. My favourite fish & chips shop was closed so I missed out on my fisherman’s basket, although I did pick up a tasty and very generous fish burgers next door. Lastly, there was the problem of insufficient wind. Since we thought we might end up without any wind at all and would have to go under motor, the soft 2 knot wind was great. However, it would be fair to say that both Dad and I were left longing for more and were very pleased when the wind managed to get to 4 knots, even if it was as we turned for home. Dad says that often happens.
I’m sure I must’ve done something else last week. Has it just slipped my memory, or was I just trying to keep my head above water? I’ve been doing a bit of research on my WWI soldiers’ project, as well as baking. Oh dear! I’m sure I did more than that. However, I’ve also been trying to clear stuff out of our house, and get it to a point where we can actually entertain from home again. It’s been years.
Lastly, this week school goes back, which also means that violin lessons start up again. I’ve had over two terms off from my lessons, and I’m still a little undecided about whether I’ll go back. I think it would be good to reconnect, and I’m starting to feel it would be a good idea for me to get something back to normal. However, I’ll need to suss out things at the studio before I truly make up my mind and I also need to get in more practice. I’ve been getting back into the piano, and having the keyboard where you can lower the volume and play into the night. Obviously, that’s much harder with the violin, and I try to be considerate about when I play.
Next week, I might have to make up a few activities. I’m feeling like there’s not a lot to report. Hey, I believe that’ll take me into the league of creating “fake news”. The only trouble is, that with all the covid restrictions in place, you’d know I was lying. What a pity!
Monday was all azure blue skies and glorious sunshine. However, of course, when we were going sailing on Tuesday with my Dad, it was dull and overcast, and we weren’t even sure there was going to be any wind.
However, that didn’t really matter. That’s because it’s been a couple of years since I’d been out sailing with Dad, and thanks to being cautious about covid, we haven’t seen him for a while either. Moreover, our daughter was also on school holidays, and I’d finally managed to pry her away from her friends for a day out. So, when you look it at like that, no matter how the sailing turned out, we were in for a wonderful day!
Yet, that’s not to say we still weren’t hoping for a perfect day out. A steady, but not gale force, wind with sunny skies good for photography, great conversation, and I did mention something about food? I was particularly looking forward to ordering my Fisherman’s Basket from Palm Beach Seafoods. Yum. Nothing like a good grease and oil change now and then! I’m now really sure grease is good for my engine, but it sure tastes good.
This all brings me to possibly the most challenging aspect of sailing. You’re 100% at the mercy of the wind. Be that too much wind, not enough wind.
Well, maybe it’s not quite 100% controlled by the wind, because other weather factors also come into play. We get some scorchingly hot Summer days here where I’d rather not be out on the water burning to a crisp. On the other extreme, I know some of you live in parts of the world where your marinas are buried under snow and ice in Winter, and that puts an end to sailing. On this front, we’re pretty lucky. Our Winters are pretty temperate, and you can sail all year round. However, there’s still about a month each year where you’re better off staying home and snuggling up in your woollens in front of the heater.
Dad sails a Catalina. It’s a beautiful boat with everything you need to sleep onboard and it certainly feels luxurious. You can sit up there on the deck and soak up the view without the boom hitting you on the head and throwing you overboard. You can also get in and out of the boat without getting wet. That can be a real bonus.
However, there’s still something thrilling about being in a small craft almost at one with the ocean, even if it is pretty hard work constantly adjusting the sails and ducking under the boom. However, there’s that exhilaration of speed and shooting through the water, which is pure fun.
Of course, catching the wind on any sail craft is problematic, and also seems to require an intuitive sense. Indeed, the initiated, can pick up speed in a relatively light wind and in such a small craft, its absolutely exhilerating!!. Indeed, putting all this overthinking aside, it’s fun. Pure fun.
Anyway, I’ve put the cart before the horse already talking about sailing, because we still need to catch the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach. Meanwhile, our journey to Palm Beach on the ferry from Ettalong is always an adventure, and I was really looking forward to that too. It’s been a few years, and what with Covid, we’re lucky to travel anywhere at the moment. However, while we had perfect weather on Monday, it was chilly with grey, overcast skies yesterday, and instead of hanging out outside as usual, we huddled indoors. I took no photos, and sat there wearing mask and gloves…humph.
In additon to the ferry and sailing trips, I was also looking forward to having my fisherman’s basket at Palm Beach Fish & Chip Shop. This has been a ritual ever since I was my daughter’s age, when I stayed at “Palmy” with a friend. I even worked there briefly, but didn’t make the cut. I was more in-tune with baking than the fast food industry. However, I still like to reminisce, especially about nights eating pizza at Palm Beach jetty with friends, while drinking Dad’s second-rate French Beaujolais.
However, they’re closed on Tuesdays, and I was left staring through the window at an empty shop. We sat down and had lunch together at the other takeaway shop. I enjoyed a very generous fish burger while chatting with our daughter, which was probably the most remarkable part of the day. She’d planned to bring a friend along and they were going to head to the beach while Dad and I went sailing. However, the friend was grounded, and our daughter didn’t quite twig that lunch with Papa included sailing. The last time we took her sailing didn’t go well. She was absolutely terrified. However, she was much younger then, and Dad had more of a racing yacht then. It was much more sensitive to the wind and I remember some exhilarating (terrifying) moments. While Dad’s always looking for converts to sailing, he hasn’t taken our daughter or my mother out on the boat since then.
Sailing’s been something I’ve dabbled in as a by-stander over the years. I went sailing with my dad a few times when I was at school. We sailed lasers down at Middle Harbour, and I really loved it. Again, it was more of an exhilarating experience and nothing to stop you from flipping over, which is why my Dad prefers the safety and security of his yacht these days. I don’t know why those sailing outings with my dad stopped all those years ago. That was him, not me. I would’ve kept going. The family also spent a week onboard a yacht sailing around the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater. A few years ago, my parents had a place at Palm Beach and the previous owners had left a laser behind. This was a wonderful opportunity for our family. Our son was doing sea scouts. It was great for him to have access to our own boat, and I went out with my husband. I was really little more than ballast, and he did all the hard work. However, I still loved being out there, and a few times we even took the dogs. If I didn’t have my health difficulties, I could see myself as a sailor. I can sense the waves in my soul, which could also be what makes for the poet in me.
Meanwhile, to get out to the boat, we caught a ride from the marina. This is fun too, because this guy gives us an entertaining tour of the houses. He knows who owns which massive waterfront mansion, and always throws in some incredible stories to boot. His feet also told a story, and wished I could make a portrait. They were definitely sailor’s feet… tanned, weathered, a few jagged broken toe nails and dusted with sand. This is his second life, and he used to be more corporate. However, he clearly belongs here now, and could well be a very good friend of Hemingway’s if he was still alive today and found his way Down Under.
Dad was not happy when we pulled up at the boat. It’s only been a week, but the seagulls have pooped from one end of it to the other. Indeed, they’ve even left a nest, making themselves right at home. Fortunately, there were no eggs and Dad unceremoniously cast that into the water filled with disgust. As he cleaned the deck, the seagulls were circling like vultures. They weren’t about to give up their perch without a struggle, and no doubt their squawks of complaint acknowledged Dad’s impertinence. Meanwhile, my daughter and I waited down below in luxury. I was becoming pleased that she’d come. She was admiring the Catalina with its plush interior, and she enthusiastically raised the curtains and peered out through the portholes. Phew! It was starting to look like we had a convert in our midst, and that the terror was gone. That she might actually enjoy sailing after all. Wouldn’t that be great?!!
As I said, Dad was thinking that we weren’t going to get any wind, and we’d be under motor. However, the wind managed to get up to a trifling 2 knots, which wasn’t enough to ruffle the water, but we did get under sail. It was very relaxing , quiet and peaceful. I had a go at steering, which according to my dad was “having a sail”. To be honest, it all felt pretty calm and timid. Moreover, of course, it was only when we were heading back that the wind managed to get up to around four knots. Dad said that often happens, and I could see that he also liked a faster sail. A bit of an adrenalin rush. However, we managed to keep my daughter happy, and that was the real success of yesterday’s voyage.
Indeed, I was reminded of the importance of little things yesterday. That just sitting together is enough. You don’t need an action-packed, adrenalin-fueled adventure to have a great time. Indeed, we don’t even need to have words. We can just be.
Yet, of course, it was also pure magic to be out there again. I love experiencing the enormity of being out there on the water, even if we weren’t out at sea and far away from land. I loved soaking up this vast enormity of water all around me, with the rim of the coast snug around us. Indeed, from the comfort of my desk, I can’t help wondering what it would be like to be onboard one of those triangles of white sail you see far out on the horizon. It looks so peaceful from a distance, even though I know it’s like the proverbial duck floating on the water. While it’s all grace above, those feet are paddling like fury, working hard down below. Moreover, it’s dangerous, and I don’t need to look far to see someone who has lost their life onboard a yacht out there. Indeed, it reminds me. There’s much to be said for dreaming, but not all dreams are meant to become real.
So, in my mind’s eye I’m hovering around the horizon in my little white yacht. There’s wind in the sails, dolphins jumping past and life is all blue skies and sunny days.
Have you been sailing? Are you a sailor? I’d love to hear from you and more about your adventures.
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.
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.
Geoff and Mister finally out in the Laser. Sailing on a much different scale.
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”!
Our son having a contemplative moment inbetween giving his mother advice.
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.
As it’s hard to photograph yourself sailing, I photographed this passing yacht.
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.
It’s not a bird or a giant Australian mosquito. It’s the Sea Plane. Photo c: Rowena Curtin.
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…
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.
Map of Palm Beach, Sydney. The Left or Western side is Pittwater with still water and the right or Eastern coast has waves.
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.
What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was an American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. Wikipedia
Today, we are going sailing so I thought I’d find a good sailing quote to share with you.
When it comes to sailing, I must confess that I’m much better at photographing sailing and being ballast than actually sailing the boat. Steering isn’t exactly my strength and I have no sense of direction and when it comes to reading maps, I’m better at turning them into origami masterpieces…paper aeroplanes, flapping birds and the like.
All the same, I love sailing with the wind rushing through my hair and that sense of absolute freedom. It’s fantastic!
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:
Three quotes for three days.
Three nominees each day (no repetition).
Thank the person who nominated you.
Inform the nominees.
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, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
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.
Mister heading to the boat.
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.
Diesel…A sailor’s insurance!
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.
Wild Oats X.
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.
Optimus on Pittwater.
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.
Rescuing one very naughty hat.
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.
Palm Beach Marina.
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