Tag Archives: sailing

Weekend Coffee Share – 30th April, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

To be quite honest with you, I don;t quite know where I am this weekend. For the last month, I’ve been Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. Yet, last week, I was back and forth to the lower Blue Mountains West of Sydney and exploring historic Richmond and Windsor both through the lens and through my heart.

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Just to add to my geographical confusion, the weather’s been all over the shop. Being cooler up in the mountains, the leaves are changing and there’s Autumn colour. I even spotted an open fire. That spells Winter to me. There’s also been a few nights this week when I’ve added extra blankets and the electric blanket has moved up to medium. I shouldn’t be surprised as it’s almost May. However, when I left home in jacket today, it was put straight onto the back seat and I’m back to short sleeves.

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Toasty warm at Lochiel House, Kurrajong Heights.

What is the weather doing in your neck of the woods? No doubt, most of you are enjoying Spring after snowy Winter’s. We don’t have such marked seasons here, but I appreciate your excitement through our coffee shares.

By the way, would you like tea, coffee or something else? I’m rather brain dead tonight.

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The last week, has been quite challenging for me. Our daughter went away on a three day dance camp at Kurrajong in the Blue Mountains and it was my job to drive her there. It was about a 2.5 hour drive out there and I stayed overnight to get her there for the 8.00 AM registration. We aught up with an old school friend of mind and her family for dinner nearby the night before and the whole thing felt like a big adventure.

Driving back, I decided to visit historic Richmond and had lunch in Windsor and went on extensive walk around town checking out the old buildings.

Windsor is the third-oldest place of British settlement on the Australian continent. Settlement at the location was first established about 1791, near the head of navigation on the Hawkesbury River (known as Deerubbin in Dharuk) and taking advantage of the fertile river flats for agriculture. The area was originally called Green Hills, but renamed Windsor (after Windsor in England). The town was officially proclaimed in a Government and General Order issued from Government House, Sydney, dated 15 December 1810, Governor Lachlan Macquarie having “marked out the district of Green Hills”, which he “… called Windsor”, after Windsor-on-the-Thames.

Of course, given my serendipitous, unplanned approach to travel, I hadn’t done any preparation. In actual fact, that worked well for me this time because my meanderings gained a sense of spontaneous discovery and I really don’t like taking a shopping list approach to travel. I like to sens, feel, explore and not fly through a place so I can tick it off my list. Done Windsor!

So, I was quite thrilled when an innocuous road sign pointing to St Mathews Historic Church led me to the oldest Church in Australia by foundation stone. Not only was it historic, but it was incredibly photogenic from so many perspectives, including the clock, the Church itself and the old cemetery. The Church was design by famous convict architect, Francis Greenway. and you can read more about the history of the Church Here.

From there, I checked out the rectory nearby and then drove into town for lunch. It’s always a bit of an educated guess when it comes to choosing somewhere to eat when you’re travelling. I usually go on the cakes, which are usually on display and give some indication. I chose well and one of the other customers put me onto a spectacular building with a woman standing on the roof. So, this was my next adventure which took me past another old cemetery, which was located next door. I am still trying to work out what the building was built for, but it was possibly the mortuary or a hospital.

At this point, I first noticed the huge, towering white cumulus clouds, which were hovering very close to the ground. I made a mental note, that they could be trouble but they weren’t that menacing shade of angry purple, which has gotten me into trouble before. You see, I am quite a cloud chaser and my beloved camera has gotten me into serious trouble in the past.

Still, I walked.

That was until the wind picked up and Autumn leaves were twirling in the wind and the sky was purple and not longer threatening to rain. The raindrop were falling thick and fast and I was moving to the car fast.

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Once again, I’d left my run too late and as I driving down Windsor Road, 2.5 hours from home, the road became treacherous. Pelting rain, strong winds and lightening and the road was starting to get submerged. I aquaplaned a little and slowed down, even though I wanted to escape the storm like a bat out of hell.

While Billy Connolly might’ve called the storm an “act of God”, I must say that getting out of there without incident was more of an act of God. I was spared!

After all that drama, I had to drive back out there to pick her up on Friday and was much more cautious this time because I also had to drive straight home with very little chance of avoiding the Friday arvo peak hour.

Yet, I had an hour in between getting up there and the dance concert and I explored Kurrajong and was put onto a stunning restaurant called Lochiel House at Kurrajong Heights. I can’t believe that I had about 20 minutes to drink my tea and enjoy their beautiful lemon and pistachio cake, which came with a side serve of scrummy cream and obviously home made jam. As you can see from the photos, Lochiel House was very pretty and as much I love its historical elements, I equally appreciated the little floral arrangements carefully positioned throughout, creating an eye-catching vista. There was undoubtedly a lot of care and attention to detail throughout. Very impressed.

It was lovely to see my daughter dance and simply to see her again. Really missed her.

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Our Sailor.

 

However, life isn’t just about dance and today we were off to the local sailing club for the junior presentations. I feel we’re on the brink of a huge precipice of commitment there. Like dancing, what starts out as a few lessons, either progress into a monstrous commitment or it dies out. It looks like father and son will be driving around the countryside racing later in the year. I think this is where we’re thankful for the off season, even though I’m hoping they get out in our laser. There are no icebergs around here during Winter.

Tomorrow, is the start of another week and my daughter has three auditions for the performing arts selective classes at our local high school. Audition hell…and that’s just from my perspective.

I don’t even know what I’m doing.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee share. It’s getting very late here so I’m going to speed off.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Y- Yachts…The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Welcome to the second last day of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

We’ve almost made it to the end of our journey, which is a good thing because the next leg is going to be precarious, pitted against the elements and there are no guarantees we’re going to make it.

That’s because we’re going on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Actually, hold that thought.

We’re not sailing anywhere. Rather, we’re driving from the Don River Railway near Devonport to Constitution Dock in Hobart to check out some yachts.

Don River to Hobart

The Beginnings of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

While we’re on the way, I thought you might appreciate a brief history of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

It’s an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).[1] The race is run in co-operation with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.[2] The race was initially planned to be a cruise by Peter Luke and some friends who had formed a club for those who enjoyed cruising as opposed to racing, however when a visiting British Royal Navy Officer, Captain John Illingworth, suggested it be made a race, the event was born. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has grown over the decades, since the inaugural race in 1945, to become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world, and it now attracts maxi yachts from all around the globe – Wikipaedia.

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Map Showing the Route of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

I also thought you might enjoy this report on the first race held in 1945, which gives a good insight into the challenges of the race:

THE YACHT RACE. SYDNEY TO HOBART.

Six Complete the Course. HOBART, Jan 3.-

After crossing over 600 miles of ocean and encountering gales and heavy seas. the yacht Ambermerle ran aground in the River Derwent today, about 1½ miles from the finishing line of the Sydney-Hobart race. She was refloated after about half an hour and completed the course to get second place on corrected time by 41 minutes. Other boats which finished today were Kathleen, Horizon and Mistral. Six yachts have now completed the course, those which have not finished being Salt Air and the Wayfarer. They were not sighted yesterday.

The Hobart yacht Winston Churchill, which arrived at Hobart at 6.38 pm yesterday came in second. 17 hours behind the Sydney yacht Rani, which won.The Rani finished at 1.22 am yesterday. The Winston Churchill completed the 635 miles in 176 hours 38 minutes 5 seconds and on corrected time was 29 hours 42 minutes behind the Rani The Winston Churchill’s skipper was Mr P. Coverdale. Horizon, Kathleen, Ambermerle and Mistral, which entered the Derwent this morning, were engaged all day in a battle against a stiff northerly wind which at times reached 50 miles an hour and whipped the water into foam.

When Kathleen rounded Derwent Light at 11 am Horizon was off Crayfish Point, four miles from Hobart and Ambermerle was off Brown’s River, 11 miles from Hobart. Ban for Shelter. Horizon ripped her mainsail and had to run for shelter into D’Entrecasteaux Channel. She was followed by Mistral, which was mak ing little headway. Ambermerle then took the lead, with Kathleen next. When Horizon turned back down the river she gave away what chance she had of getting second, which place she would have filled had she finished before 1 pm. Kathleen made good progress up the river and passed Ambermerle to cross the line third.

Ambermerle, which was under jury rig, with balloon jib and storm tri sail set, appeared to be making slow progress beating along the Sandy Bay shore. She misstayed when going about and ran aground on Red Chapel beach, about 1 miles from the finishing line. She was refloated after about half an hour and continued to the finishing line.

While she was aground she was passed by Horizon. Mr J. Alderton, helmsman of the Ambermerle, said that the trip was practically uneventful until nearing the entrance to the Derwent, when the jib and mainsail were blown out She continued from there under jury rig. The boat behaved well in the storm which struck the yachts on the second day out from Sydney. Ambermerle was hove to for a night off One Tree Point on the south coast of New South Wales and for half a day when off Bermagui.

Missing for Five Days.

The Horizon, which was sighted yesterday after having been reported missing for five days, was cheered as she crossed the finishing line. The skipper, Mr J. Bartlett, of Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, expressed surprise that there should have been any misgivings regarding the safety of the boat. The inability of the Catalina to sight the yacht, he thought, was due to the wide seaward course taken. When the fierce southerly gale scattered the yachts, he said, waves 14 to 15 feet high barred any possibility of progress. The Horizon was hove to for 24 hours. Seas broke over her, but she did not ship any water.

The Kathleen was hove to in a southerly gale off the New South Wales coast on the second day out and was becalmed off Twofold Bay on the third day. She had a good wind across Bass Strait, but was again becalmed off the Tasmanian coast.

West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), Friday 4 January 1946, page 8

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Humph…This is not a yacht. Constitution Dock 2005.

Anyway, we’ve now arrived at Constitution Dock. However, it appears there aren’t any yachts in town. I guess that’s what happens when you turn up at the end of April well in Autumn. Indeed, htere weren’t any yachts there on my last two9 visits. So, I hope you like photos of fishing boats!

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This isn’t a yacht either. Yet, another fishing boat parked at Constitution Dock, 2017.


 

This raises another difficulty facing travel writers. While it’s all very well to travel spontaneously without a plan, that doesn’t work when you’re wanting to capture something specific. You need to be there at the right time and if you’re wanting to capture the arrival of the Sydney to Hobart fleet, you need to be there in December after December 27 through to early January. We were in Hobart on the 20th-21st January and as you can see, there wasn’t a yacht in sight.

So, I had to cheat.

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Here’s the former Sydney to Hobart winner Wild Oats something or other moored in Newport, Sydney. Not quite the same as photographing the end of the race or an actual yacht in full sail but at this stage, I’m just looking for a yacht.

Do you enjoy sailing? Our son is a member of the local sailing club and has been racing a small yacht called an Optimus, something I’m sure they picked up at our local Bunnings Hardware store, because it looks just like a bathtub to me. My Dad inspired the sailing bug in the family. He sails a Catalina…a real step up from our Laser.

I hope you’re looking forward to our last stop! Stay tuned!

xx Rowena

 

W- Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 22 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may be aware, we’re Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania on Beyond the Flow this year.  Last night, we stayed at Wines for Joanie, and today, we’re driving around 215km South-East to Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park.

Map to Wineglass Bay

While I know it sounds rather corny travelling from Wines for Joanie to Wineglass Bay, that’s pure, serendipitous coincidence. How the letters fell out of the cornflakes box. Wineglass Bay is shaped like it’s namesake. That’s all.

Quite frankly, Wineglass Bay and the Freycinet National Park is a must-see on even on the shortest visit to Tasmania. It’s totally beyond stunning and absolutely unforgettable. At the same time, you’ll be wanting decent weather to give it its due and to capture a photo worth posting (the competition is fierce). While there’s nothing like a stunning, expansive view to stretch your insides out and liberate you from life’s stresses and strains, Wineglass Bay has to be one of the best natural views in the world. It simply is what it is.

That said, I’ve been to Tassie about five times and I’ve only been there once. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually make it to Wineglass Bay or to Freycinet National Park on our January trip. I also repeat a previous confession, that I visited Queenstown on my first trip to Tassie and missed the stunning East coast entirely, due to lack of research. I was pretty cheesed off with myself, when I found out what I’d missed.

As I’ve said multiple times before, Tasmania is much, much bigger on the ground than it appears on the map. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s packed to the rafters with so much to do, see, eat and drink that someone must’ve squished it in. Made it fit.

Wineglass Bay can be so stunning, that it’s easy to forget that this can be a treacherous stretch of sea. That there’s nothing breaking the powerful force of the Pacific Ocean between South America and the Tasmanian coast, and those waves can really become fierce, menacing and the makings of shipwrecks. I don’t believe that I’ve even seen a photo of Wineglass Bay when she’s “in a mood” or “throwing a tanty”. However, just because this alter-ego might not suit the tourist brochures, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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Check out that wind.

Here are just a few headlines I’ve sandwiched together:

SEAMAN DROWNED. FELL OVERBOARD NEAR WINEGLASS BAY. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Friday 16 January 1925 FISHING BOAT WRECKED. IN WINEGLASS BAY. HOBART, Thursday.  The North West Post (Formby, Tas. : 1887 – 1916) Friday 3 November 1916 p 3 Article…FISHING BOAT ASHORE. STRANDED IN COLE’S BAY. A large fishing; boat on her way from Devonport to Hobart took shelter in Wineglass Bay on Friday, but owing to the easterly -weather she had to leave, and made through the Schouten passage on her way to Hobart. A heavy south-westerly gale towards evening forced her to turn and make for Coles Bay, which was reached early on Saturday morning. Owing to the darkness the boat ran ashore, and was left stranded. The spare gear was removed, and it was expected to refloat the boat during the week-end. Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Thursday 28 December 1933, page 2… STRANDED SHIP The interstate freighter Merino ran aground early yesterday morning near Wineglass Bay, on the East Coast of Tasmania. On board is a £100,000 collection of French paintings, as well as 200 tons o£ general cargo. The 549-ton vessel is not in any immediate danger. Two Hobart tugs, the Maydena and Boyer, are on the spot. Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Friday 26 December 1952, page 1…The fishing smack Lucy Adelaide is a total wreck at Wineglass Bay. Weather Delays Lighthouse Ship North-easterly weather has held up the lighthouse supply ship Cape York at Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, and she is now not expected to (berth at Hobart until tomorrow evening.The Cape York has been inspecting the Cape Forestier light house. The vessel probably will start loading stores tomorrow night for her trip around the Tasmanian lighthouses Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Monday 20 September 1954, page 3…

I thought this story of being shipwrecked on Tasmania’s East Coast back in 1935 was so gripping, that I’ve posted it Here

Coles Bay J & G

However, let’s return to Wineglass Bay. Unfortunately, my chronic illness prevents me from walking down to Wineglass Bay. So, today we’re just going to stick to the lookout and visit nearby Coles and Sleepy Bays and you might notice our son has shrunk a little and through some kind of mystical, fairy magic, has become the Little Man again. He’s been missed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Wineglass Bay and have the opportunity to experience it in person yourself long before you need to write that dreaded bucket list!

xx Rowena

 

 

Shipwrecked Near Wineglass Bay, Tasmania 1935.

Never trust a postcard! Calm seas and blue skies, can turn in an instant as the fury of the sea reveals itself in all its might.

While researching Tasmania’s Wineglass Bay, I came across this thrilling story of being shipwrecked on Tasmania’s East Coast from 1935 when you largely had to save yourself from the stormy depths:

SHIP-WRECKED MEN TELL OF TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE .. . . . .

LOST CUTTER Crew’s Thrilling Escape LONG ORDEAL HOBART, Thursday.

Clad in the tattered remnants of the clothing they had worn during their terrible experience, and grasping battered suit-cases, still showing signs of immersion in salt water, Thomas Aldrich and Carl Henderson, survivors of the ill-fated fishing cutter Derwent, stepped wearily from a ferry steamer on to the Brooke-street pier to-day. They had reached Hobart – their goal-in a vessel called the Derwent, but their own vessel, similarly named, with all their personal belongings, fishing gear, papers, and money, lies in eight fathoms of water off the Schouten Peninsula. Unshaven and unkempt, one wearing thigh boots and the other borrowed shoes, with their clothes torn and dishevelled, and their faces want and drawn, as the result of their experience, the two men unfolded a remarkable story of their desperate fight against terrific odds, and of how finally they had won through to land exhausted on the East Coast after their vessel had sunk almost beneath their feet.

Shipwreck

“I have been at sea for 21 years, and have previously been shipwrecked at the Falkland Islands,” began Henderson; “but never in my life have I seen such terrific seas or experienced such a terrible day.” With his companion, who owned the vessel, Henderson continued, he had set out from Stony Point (Vic.) on Easter Sunday in good weather, and had experienced an uneventful run to Wilson’s Promontory. After passing Curtis Island, however, the first mishap had occurred. The cutter began to leak in the bow, and examination disclosed that a bolt in the hull had been jarred and loosened, allowing the water to slowly filter into the vessel.

“Although I was obliged to take long spells at the wheel, we did not regard the mishap seriously,” continued Henderson, “and decided to push on, despite the fact that we were only about 30 miles from the Promontory. The weather became worse shortly after this, and we decided to shelter under Chappel Island. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon we anchored, and we then found that a crack had developed in the tiller as the result of the buffeting we had received.

Raging Gale

Henderson said the tiller had been successfully patched and the voyage had been continued in finer weather. On Monday night last, when the vessel sheltered at Preservation Island, rain began to fall heavily, and the breeze freshened. Driving rain continued throughout the night, and gradually the south-easterly wind became a raging gale.

“We realised that our position was precarious,” said Mr. Aldrich. The sea had been lashed to a fury. The waves were leaping 40ft. high, and a 30-mile gale was blowing. Hour after hour my friend (Henderson) hung on to the wheel, and I pumped desperately. We had lowered the sail, and for 19 hours Henderson endeavoured to keep her to the wind whilst I worked under his instructions. When dawn broke, mist and blinding rain prevented us from sighting land. And then the engine stopped. The boat had been straining heavily under the power of the engine and the reefed sails, and we had sighted land somewhere near Maria Island and Schouten. We decided to make for Wineglass Bay, and would have made it all right only for that mishap.

‘Mountainous seas were dashing over the combings, and the engine stopped. “Our position was now even more desperate,” continued Aldrich. “Abandoning the pump, I clawed my way to where Henderson was fighting to hold the wheel over, and levered my shoulder to the wheel in an endeavour to keep her to her course. The gale was bending the staysail like a whip, and the terrific strain apparently was too much. Suddenly the water began to pour into her. Henderson scrambled below, waist-deep in water, in an endeavour to grasp our bags, while I struggled desperately with the dinghy. He threw a bag up, thinking it was mine, but he had found the wrong one.”

Unforgettable Hours

“We dared not delay,” said Aldric “and we lowered the dinghy with great difficulty into the heaving sea. Immediately the boat was half-filled with water, but, by bailing, we managed to keep afloat and move away from the cutter. Within seven minutes from the time the water began to pour in, she had disappeared. “We spent three hours in the dinghy that I will never forget,” continued Aldrich. “For two hours I bailed while Henderson used the paddles. Then for another hour we searched the coast in an attempt ‘to find a suitable place to land. It was only with the greatest difficulty that we kept the dinghy afloat, and as we could not make Wineglass Bay, we decided to make for Sleepy Bay, where the seas were crashing onto the rocks. Henderson; who was doing a wonderful job, forced the dinghy in, stern first, and with waves spraying up alot, I jumped for the shelving rock. How I landed I do not know, but I managed to grab the rope that Henderson threw to me, and we gained the shore. A few moments later the dinghy was dashed to pieces”

For a ‘while the men rested exhausted on the inhospitable shore, but rousing themselves from the stupor into which they had fallen, they scrambled up the steep hills of the Hazard Mountains. Luckily, Henderson knew the whereabouts of a prospector’s camp, and after wading waist-high through swollen creeks and streams the men reached the camp. “I was all in then,” said Aldrich, “and when I saw McCrac and Fenner I dropped at their feet.” The prospectors did all they could for us, and gave us the first food we had had for 15 hours.” The shipwrecked men stayed the night with the prospectors and then began to walk overland to Swansea “We must have walked 40 miles,” said Henderson, “and when we reached Swansea with our suitcases, which were practically empty, we went to Captain Taylor, of the Bay View Hotel, who communicated with the Commissioner of Police (Colonel J. E. C. Lord) and did all he could for us.” Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), Friday 3 May 1935, page 7

 

Visiting the Young Endeavour, Stanley.

Continuing on with our travels through Tasmania, last Saturday, we drove down to Stanley to see a magnificent tall ship, the  Young Endeavor a Royal Australian Navy sail training ship

The Young Endeavour Scheme began when the magnificent sail training ship STS Young Endeavour was given to the people of Australia by the United Kingdom as a Bicentennial gift back in 1988. Since then, the Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy, has provided challenging training voyages for over 11,000 young Australians aboard Young Endeavour.

To be selected, young Australians can put their names in the ballot. No previous sailing experience is required and it is the opportunity of a life time.

With our family’s interest in sailing and history, we were looking forward to being able to climb onboard and check it out.

Unfortunately, very heavy winds picked up and we were unable to board the ship.

However, we did get the opportunity to meet and listen to former crew as well as a young lady who is was leaving on it the next day. Neither had any prior sailing experience and apparently they teach you everything you need to know onboard. I found that that both encouraging and a bit scary but they know what they’re doing. The experience is well known for improving self-confidence, resilience and problem-solving in young people and it really is the opportunity of a lifetime…especially climbing straight up the mast and clinging on for dear life while the boat rocks to and fro.

Humph, they can keep that experience.

As much as I would’ve loved to do this back in the day, I’m quite happy to stick to plain sailing these days.

Xx Rowena

Sailing With the Sea Plane.

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.

Jon & Geoff sailing

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.

rowena-sailing

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”!

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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.

other-yacht

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.

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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.

seaplane-landing

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!

xx Rowena

Lugubrious Dark Gully, Sydney.

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.

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Map of Palm Beach, Sydney. The Left or Western side is Pittwater with still water and the right or Eastern coast has waves.

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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.

xx Rowena