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.
Watching the setting sun perform its stunning grand finale, has become an irresistible addiction. I can’t help myself, and why not? Sunsets have an ethereal, transcendental beauty, which lifts us out of ourselves, the weight of our earthly beings, and into the ether.
Needless to say, the photographer in me just can’t leave all that colour up there hanging in the sky. Rather, I have to preserve it for eternity in 6 x 4. Take it home.
These boats are just bathing in golden light.
Of course, if you’re a sunset chaser like myself, you’d already appreciate that the sunset is a process, an unfolding drama. That’s especially true when you’re watching the sun set over the ocean or a body of water like we were last night. If you were an actor, you could compare it to a four act play. If you were a lepidopterist (collector of butterflies), you’d say it was like the most exquisite Ulysses butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis and fluttering through the sunshine in all it’s dazzling splendour before its brief hours pass. Or, perhaps if you’re a gardener or admirer of St Expery’s Little Prince, you could compare it to an unfurling rose bud opening up into a magnificent flower. Again, it’s hour too is all too brief and over all too soon. It’s petals brown and fall to the ground, just like day becomes night.
A good sunset is all these gems in one.
Last night, Geoff and I drove over to Hardy’s Bay on the New South Wales Central Coast to check out the sunset there. Hardy’s Bay is about a 20 minute drive away, and to be perfectly honest, I can’t really tell you where it is in relation to anywhere else. I can only tell you how to get there from here, which probably isn’t going to help you at all, and you’ll end up like me when I first went to Hardy’s Bay a month ago…lost. So, I’ve been kind and here’s a link to a map. That way, you can get lost or found on your own merits.
The Jetty at Hardy’s Bay just before sun set.
Anyway, Hardy’s Bay has a really lovely feel to it. There are some fancy food shops across the road from a long, wooden jetty which I’m sure was put right there in front of the sunset for the benefit of sunset chasers, photographers and meditators alike. Oh, and perhaps a few folk who might actually make it out on the water. Indeed, a large yacht came in and offloaded some passengers. We were sitting with our legs dangling off the jetty at the time, and while I was a bit cheesed off about having my serenity disturbed by having to move, I wasn’t about to sacrifice my legs to make a point.
Yacht pulled into Hardy’s Bay at sunset and dropped off some merry makers.
Naturally, it was just amazing to be there watching the sunset and feeling myself merging in and almost becoming one with it. However, we were also there to take photos, and after photographing so many sunsets, and we’ve become just a tad fussy. We’re now looking for points of difference… the spectacular, the unusual and quirky. That said, although we’ve seen those more mediocre, sunburnt-orange skies and their corresponding clouds of pink marshmallow before, we’re still left awestruck. Still take the photos, but just might not print them up or post them on Facebook.
Pointing your lens right into the sun is a no-no, and it is intense but I love the fullness of sunshine in this one. It effervescence. A massive glowing orange shining in the sky right in the middle of Winter and in the midst of Covid’s doom, gloom and despair. It’s pure magic.
What I particularly noticed about this sunset was the range of colours both in the sky and also in the photos, and that these didn’t necessarily correspond with each other. Although I have a Nikon D3500 and it’s a lot more sensitive than a phone camera, there were instances where it had a mind of its own and the colours were much more intense.
What sensational colour! This was what the camera saw – quite different to the naked eye.
I’ve fiddled with the post-processing, but I didn’t make significant changes to how the lens perceived and captured what was there. As I took the photos, I fiddled a bit with the ratio of clouds to water to see how that panned out, and managed to get some beautiful colouring in the water which wasn’t visible to the naked eye. Of course, there are no complaints. The effect was quite beautiful.
A precious Rainbow Lorrikeet nibbling away in barren Illawarra Flame Tree.
In addition to the incredible cloud coverage which became a feature in itself, and the obvious structure of the jetty, there was also a row of Illawarra Flame Trees along the shore line. It’s Winter here, and the trees are void of leaves and nothing but a mass of tangled branches. Yet, I took a second glance at the bright patches of bright rainbow colours dotted here and there, and pick out a smattering of Rainbow Lorrikeets. How special is that, AND I managed to get a few half-decent shots. They’re so pretty and so Australian!
Don’t those striking branches of the Illawarra Flame Tree look extraordinary!!
However, as I said at the outset, while it’s so easy to be caught up and fall under a sunset’s magical spell, part of its intrinsic nature is its transience…its passing. Indeed, perhaps something so beautiful, so moving, so awe-inspiring could only be fleeting. That it it would somehow blow a fuse if it went on forever.
I don’t know.
Besides, nothing that is seen, lasts forever.
Goodnight to the Sun
Anyway, I was just pleased to get outside after being cooped up. I’ve had a cold which rended me infectious and out of circulation. That’s cleared up now, just as cases of coronavirus spiral in Melbourne. Not to the levels experienced overseas, but I’m quite annoyed because we had the chance to get rid of this virus and it’s looking like we blew it. Well, in the case of Melbourne, they’ve tracked that outbreak to security guards “mingling” with guests in quarantine. How stupid is that? Some times, I wonder whether dumber & dumber are going to rule the world. Or, perhaps they already do. I’m still social distancing and just keeping out of circulation, but even I slipped up the other day and hugged a friend when she popped in the other day. I’ve been rigidly strict, and then I did that. Well, the one good thing about that is that I’m still human. My self, a very huggy, extroverted people-person, is still alive and well underneath this hermit’s skin.
Anyway, my apologies. I digress.
Do you have any great sunset shots you’d like to share? I’d love to see them. Just leave your links in the comments below.
PS Seeing these photos inspired a message for during this time of the coronavirus where we can’t travel…Make the most of where you are. I know it might look easy for me when I live on the coast and our Winter’s are pretty mild, but you can find a bit of magic everywhere you go and everywhere you are. You just need to open your eyes, your ears, your senses to the exquisite possibilities.
Nothing annoys me more than when when my husband comes home and says look at these sunset photos, especially when I missed the sunset altogether, and was most likely too engrossed in my research to notice. Indeed, as far as I was concerned, yesterday was cold, overcast and best spent indoors wrapped up in my comfy dressing gown with my Ugg boots keeping my tootsies toasty warm.
Meanwhile, he was out sailing (in a wet suit) and triumphantly returned home flashing these photos at me. He knew I’d be dead jealous, but more than that there was regret. Why didn’t I carpe diem seize the day? My research on Gallipoli WWI could’ve waited and I too could’ve been immersed right inside that sunset with my own images to share (alright show off!!)
Worse still, here I am tapping away while eating my breakfast watching the sun shining outside and who knows how long that will last on a Winter’s day and then there’s also the washing machine chugging away. School goes back on Tuesday and I’m caught in this vice between first things first getting out for my walk and getting some much needed sunshine, Or, being responsible and getting those school uniforms hung out. Of course, option B could also include getting said child to hang their own uniforms out but we all know that’s not going to be the expedient choice. I could also just dump the lot in the dryer as well. Forget the environment. I should also add that I’ve had a cold and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been out for a walk and while I did get out for a coffee with my daughter and I raid one of the local op shops as well, that didn’t constitute actually exercise. You know the sort of exercise that equal more than a couple of steps.
Of course, if I was a Nike person, I’d just go and do it. If I left right now, the washing machine is still going. It’s a no brainer. Or, at least it would’ve been. The washing machine just beeped and like Pavlov’s dog I’m off. I’ll hang that washing on the line. I’ll go for my walk and then, later in the day, I might even go for a drive and seriously chase the sunset. It’s a lot of fun.
What are you grappling with today? Or, do you just do it. Get it down. Don’t have to think about what to do? The one thing I can be sure of is that the longer I sit here tapping away, that the day is getting away from me. That said, connecting with people especially while while we’re in iso is just as important too. Trying to make the most out of the day is complex and challenging and not just going down your check list like a robot. Yet, if you’re wanting to seize the sun on a Winter’s day either for yourself or the darn washing to dry, you need to move it. Or, in my case move myself.
Catch you later!
PS These photos of the sun setting over Brisbane Waters, Gosford, NSW were taken by my husband, Geoff Newton.
Paddling through the clouds certainly sounds idyllic, and indeed at was for me while Geoff was battling it out with the boat and trying to get it out on the water before sunset. Indeed, while I was gazing at the reflections of clouds glowing on the water, the moon was bouncing up and down like a tennis ball, until it disappeared behind the clouds. It was all very atmospheric for me, and frustrating and disappointing for Geoff who didn’t get any further than sailing in the park. That said, he did get out with me for a better-than-nothing paddle. Well, it was far better than that and it was lovely to spend time together. Indeed, you could even say that we went out on a date. How strange is that!
If you look at the map above, we were kayaking at Tascott, which is located on left hand side of the blue pond outlined above. It’s quite a pretty spot, but not as removed from civilization as my walks along the Water Tower Walk or Patonga. We were paddling just off the main road and my serenity was accompanied by the unnatural hum of traffic.
I paddled out to check out this old boat with loads of “character”. There’s a garden seat tied on at the front and I was surprised to see people on board.
It’s feels like we’re finally liberating ourselves from some of our parenting duties and can actually snatch some moments away from the kids together. Their activities have largely been cancelled during lock down, and that’s also freed us up. I don’t know if we’re going to be entirely happy when it all starts up again.
By the way, if you recall my sunset photos from Patonga, I was facing West and capturing the sun’s fading rays in all their golden glory. However, from Tascott, we were facing East and as you can see, the colours were much more muted and had a Monet feel about them. Well, at least they did to me.
By the way, my husband doesn’t apologize for not taking any photos of me out on the kayak. When I asked him about it when he got home, he said he was too busy working on the boat. Just as well I photographed my feet. I thought it might come in handy. The photo of me kayaking up the top, was one “I’d prepared earlier.”
Tascott looking towards Woy Woy, NSW.
I hope you had a good weekend, but looking at these photos what I experienced is very different to what so many are going through either fighting the coronavirus or dealing with the riots in USA and issues in Hong Kong and so many other things which are going on. I can assure you, our world is not as calm as it appears either. While my health is good atm, we have family who aren’t well and I’m very mindful of that. We need to snatch away these moments of serenity and sunshine to refuel us for whatever lies ahead. It all seems a bit up in the air at the moment.
A Muted Sunset at Tascott.
I’m thinking of you whoever or wherever you are and praying that you know it can be okay and to hang in there.
“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.” – Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows a children’s book by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932).
It seems Rat knew a lot about sailing when he shared this piece of wisdom with Mole. When the uninitiated looks out and sees that lone sail moving swiftly across the water and is usually green with envy, they have no idea how much work has gone on behind the scenes to get out onto the water.
We’re a family of sailors, non-sailors and a couple of in-betweens, and my mother the non-sailor speaks of my father saying he’s going “down to the boat”, which usually means he’s fixing something rather than actually going out for a sail.
Moreover, even if you’ve done all of that and your boat is in good working order, you’re still at the mercy of the wind and it simply has a mind and will all of its own. Indeed, I’m sure willing the wind is even beyond the power of prayer, and there’s nothing, nothing at all, you can do to “make it happen!”
All you can do is apply a bit of humour and remain philosophical.
Today, we tried one boat ramp, but it was closed for repairs. Geoff rigged up the boat. Found a few issues, and by then the wind had disappeared and the sun was gone.
So, unfortunately, the laser made it no further than the park. Ironically, the boat just happened to be parked within eye shot of the Imagine sign, leaving Geoff to imagine what it would be like to get the boat out on the water for a sail.
Hopefully, he’ll get to find out next weekend when the Winter Series opens up at the Sailing Club. The club has been closed for a few months due to the Coronavirus, but has been cleared to re-open, at least to some extent. It will be great to be back.
Have you been out sailing lately? How did it go? I’d love to get out there again soon, but in the meantime, we had an enjoyable paddle on the kayak instead.
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.
Welcome back to my travel series for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, Places I’ve Been. Today, we sail into glorious Sydney Harbour, undoubtedly one of the most stunningly beautiful places we’ve been so far, and for me, it’s home. Well, not exactly home, as I’ve never had the privilege of living right on the Harbour. However, it’s close enough.
This photo was taken at Lavender Bay on the Northern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and you can see the ferris wheel at Luna Park beneath the bridge. As you can see, I wasn’t too well when this photo was taken.
Today, our journey sets out from Circular Quay. On our left, there’s the grand spanning arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, colloquially known as “the Coathanger” and on the right, we’re chugging past the majestic white sails of the Sydney Opera House. All of this is jaw-droppingly beautiful. However, for daily commuters heading across the bridge on the train, the harbour is often little more than a fuzz while they’re reading the newspaper, tinkering on their phones or simply trying to keep their noses free from a stranger’s armpit.
Soon, we pass a small island, Fort Denison which is a former penal site and defensive facility occupying a small island located north-east of the Royal Botanic Gardens and approximately 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) east of the Opera House. The island was formerly known in its indigenous name of Mat-te-wan-ye, and as Pinchgut Island. I’ve never been there. However, my mother took each of our kids there when they were younger for a special lunch.
A yacht sailing on Sydney Harbour viewed from Mosman.
Oh dear. I’m not too sure where we should proceed and it’s impossible for me to point out places on the left and right of the harbour with such a vast expanse of water in between. Particularly, as you may recall, when I’m so spatially challenged and really don’t want to screw it up.
So, being ANZAC Day where Australia commemorates it’s service men and women who’ve served during all armed conflicts, I thought I’d stop pointed out the window and jump in my time machine instead. Take you back to the evening of the 31st May, 1942 when the Japanese Imperial Navy sent three midget submarines into Sydney Harbour from larger submarines which were lurking outside the heads. These midget submarines were built for stealth, barely squeezing in two crew members each.
Japanese Midget Submarine in Sydney Harbour.
The first midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at 8pm, but got caught up in anti-submarine nets and attracted the attention of the HMAS Yarroma and Lolita. Once they realised they’d been caught, the Japanese crew activated an explosive, deliberately sinking the vessel and killing themselves.
The second managed to sneak past the nets and fired two torpedoes, which hit a Sydney ferry, killing nineteen Australian and two British naval officers. It then received fire from a number of Australian vessels and managed to escape, but never made it back to the mother sub.
The third and final midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at around 11pm. By this time, Sydney was ready. It had six depth charges (anti-submarine weapons) dropped on it, and was presumed sunk, until it made a comeback four hours later and tried to fire its torpedoes. Since it was pretty banged up, the attack was a bust and the submarine was sunk by allied ships at around 3am 1.
Clearly, these attacks caused a bit of excitement.
Two years after the war, the story of a Japanese pilot appeared in the paper. He’d flown a Zero straight through Sydney Harbour undetected the night before the midget submarine attacks. Not a comforting thought, especially when you consider that the attack came around 6 months after surprise Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on the 7th December, 1941. These were very dangerous and precarious times and when you look at the bridge, the Opera House and the bright blue water on a sunny day, it’s very hard to imagine that the war ever touched our doorstep..
ATTACK ON SYDNEY – Japanese Story Of 1942 Raid
AUCKLAND, Tuesday (A.A.P.-Reuters). – Susumu Ito, proprietor of a little fish-ing tackle shop at Iwakuni, Japan, claims that he flew over Sydney Harbour the night be-fore the Japanese midget sub-marine attack on May 30, 1942. Ito, then a Japanese naval lieu-tenant, aged 24, told his story in Japan yesterday.
This is what he said:
“I was pilot of a Zero float-plane carried by a Japanese ocean-going submarine of 3,300 tons.
“We arrived off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), in pitch dark one morning late in May, 1942. Our submarine carried midget submarines which were designed to be used to attack naval ships at Auckland and Sydney.
“Our warplane was launched from the submarine and I quickly reached Auckland. While the city slept I cruised overhead un-molested and never climbing above 1,000 feet. I was never challenged or disturbed by intercepting fighters.
“I soon located Devonport Naval Base and gave it special attention. For the better part of an hour I looked for warships, but found no-thing that would warrant attack by one of our midget submarines.
“I flew back to the mother sub-marine and reported that there were no warships at Auckland.
“The submarine commander then decided to proceed to Sydney. We crossed the Tasman and surfaced off Sydney Heads on May 29.
FLIGHT OVER SYDNEY
“Unlike Auckland, I found the Sydney air rather crowded. There were Australian planes doing night flying exercises, but I was not molested.
“The Australian pilots did not appear to notice me, although the long streamlined single float of my Zero should have been conspicuous.
“I sighted what I considered to be suitable targets in Sydney Harbour and lost no time in returning to the submarine and making my report.
“Midget submarines were released. Later I left in the mother submarine for Rabaul,”
Ito said he spent about an hour over Auckland. His flight over Sydney was “very much briefer.” Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 16 July 1947, page 1
So, that all created a bit of excitement.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House viewed from a ferry looking East.
Perhaps, we’d better we’d better exit our time machine and go back to looking out the window. It’s a perfect, sunny, Sydney day.
Have you ever been to Sydney? Did she behave herself? Or did you experience four seasons in one day and possibly even a bush fire thrown in? I love you Sydney, but like all of us, she isn’t perfect.
My Goodness! I don’t know where today went, but it feels like it disappeared like a rat up a drainpipe and I’m left sitting at my desk peering through the window up into a sky of scrambled blue and white wondering what happened.
My apologies. You’re a bit early for cake. I’ve taken the eggs out and they’re slowly warming to room temperature. I’m going to make another sponge cake with passionfruit icing. I made one about a month ago and the cake wasn’t quite right and I’d like to perfect it. It was my mother’s specialty, and like many great bakers, they add these magic ingredients and fiddle with the process in some way that it is almost impossible to replicate. Fortunately, Mum is still with us but she hasn’t baked a sponge in over five years and I think she’s lost the knack. I’m just waiting for the right time and I might just be able to extract her secret, although I might also need to get her back behind the wheel of her Sunbeam Mixmaster.
How was your week?
Despite the photo of me cruising along on a boat, last week was quite stressful as I had my review for the NDIS. That’s the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It was put in place to help people with disabilities lead more independent lives and to reduce the economic impact of buying equipment etc and I guess it also aims to get people back into the community, back to work and functioning at their best, which is also what gives many of us a better quality of life and an increased personal well-being. While the NDIS has helped in many ways, it’s also challenged medical reports provided by the best specialists Australia has got and refused to acknowledge certain disabilities such as epilepsy at all and for me personally, they don’t see to understand that I can walk okay but getting out of chairs, especially multiple times during the day and especially on bad days, is a strain and I usually tend to stay put. I have a lift chair but I got it through Freecycle and it’s 15 years old and pretty disgusting after being here for three years. The NDIS doesn’t seem to acknowledge the importance of parenting responsibilities and the need to be with my family and not shut away in bed. So, I have a few fires to fight and am currently well enough and fired up enough to fight them, which isn’t always the case. Wish me luck.
In between working on my review, I’ve also been fired up on my family history again. You’d wonder if there was still a leaf unturned after researching all these years. However, my Dad’s second cousin got in touch the other day and that’s fired up a whole new line of inquiry. His mother’s parents passed away when she was a child and she was adopted by my Great Grandparents. However, although I’d heard of Nancy growing up, I didn’t know how she fitted in and they lived in Victoria somewhere and my parents didn’t travel very much back then. However, I did have a few photos of Nancy as a young girl and I wanted to get them through to her family, which has now happened which is great. While working on all of this, I realized that my Grandfather’s grandparents were actually Irish and not just in the sense of being of Irish descent, but had actually been born there. Edward Quailey (or Quealey) came from County Clare and Margaret O’Neil was from County Limmerick and they married in Christchurch, New Zealand before coming to Sydney. Most of my ancestors came out to Australia much earlier and my sense of them being from over there is more of an intellectual awareness than a lived and breathed experience with its inherent cultural and social values and experiences. Of course, it would help if I’d been to Ireland, but at the moment, that is but a dream but not too distant I hope.
Our son sailing his Laser.
This brings me through to Saturday when our son had his first sail for the season. Just to remind you, that it’s Spring here and things are starting to warm up and get re-energized around here including the start of the sailing season. Our son has been sailing in a Flying 11 for the last couple of years along with a crew member. That was getting too small and uncompetitive for them and now he’s sailing solo in a laser. It was great to get back to Gosford Sailing Club yesterday on a beautiful sunny day and catch up with our sailing cronies. Much to much delight and surprise, I actually made it out onto the water in a powerboat. As you can tell by my smile, I had an incredible time. I’ve never actually been out on the water there and it was interesting to check the area out as well as being able to terrorize our son the Laser and get some great photos up close.
This photo was taken when my daughter auditioned for Central Dance Company. Stay tuned for the swan.
Meanwhile, yesterday was our daughter’s last Sunday rehearsal before next Saturday’s performance of Swan Lake with the Central Dance Company. They will be performing next Saturday at the Art House in Wyong, which is about a 40-minute drive from here. I can’t wait to see her and the production, which is why I’ve booked myself in for the matinee and we’ll be attending the evening show as a family. I figure I’ll be watching her for the first show and will be able to enjoy the whole show for the second performance. They’ll also be performing Laycock Street the following Friday night and guess what…I’ll be there too. It’s not that I’m one of those over the top dance mums. I just figure this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my daughter as a swan and I want to make the most of it. By the way, that also means I’m off to the hairdresser tomorrow. I don’t want the mother of the Swan looking like a dead duck!
The epic hole and the buried dog blanket.
Over the weekend, I wrote a post about our dogs digging up the backyard and wanting to identify the guilty party. Well, it appears that Rosie has well and truly dobbed herself it today after she dug an adjacent hole with very fast-moving paws and I think you’ll agree that it could accommodate a small cat. Maybe, I shouldn’t have mentioned “cat” and just left it as something more nebulous like a giant dinosaur bone. We have nothing against cats.
Anyway, that’s our week done and dusted. What did you get up to? Did anyone or their kids getting involved in these protests against climate change? My daughter really wanted to go but she’s missing school for the show this week and I was also concerned about her getting there. They didn’t seem to have a reliable group of friends organized. It struck me as a time when predators could be out preying on kids and that concerned me. As it turned out, there were so many people there and parents went along as well so it would’ve been fine. We’ll know for next time.
This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali We’d love you to come along and join us.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
– Lao Tzu
Yesterday, the sailing season launched again for our son and this was his first time out on his new-to-him Laser. For the last two years, he’s been sailing in a Flying 11 along with a crew member. However, the two 15-year-olds were weighing it down. It wasn’t competitive and quite simply, they didn’t fit. That’s what happens to a lot of things with teenagers, and I don’t believe ours has had his major growth spurt yet. We’re expecting him to be around 6ft-6ft2 so he still has a way to go and he’s only just taller than Mum and Dad.
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
Of course, the cobwebs had set in over Winter and they were compounded by the new boat and the current situation of having to store the boat at home instead of the sailing club. So, that also meant Dad was driving with the trailer out the back, which I guess really took us into the league of serious sailors. We weren’t just part of the champagne set who keep this yacht thing on a mooring so we can boast to people that we have a yacht, even though we never take it out. Oh no! Our son is a sailor and he’s out on the water at every opportunity and my husband and Dad are the same.
“Self-transformation is not just about changing yourself. It means shifting yourself to a completely new dimension of experience and perception.”
As you could imagine, taking the new boat out for the first time, there was going to be some teething problems, potential nerves and drama even before the boat hit the water. We had a packing list for the Flying 11 and I should’ve twigged that this needed updating for the new boat. Moreover, taking the boat with us, that included the proverbial kitchen sink.
I saw my role yesterday as observation and potentially a second pair of hands. However, that all changed when we started rigging the boat and Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not communicated well and a sail was left at home. Although Geoff knew how to rig the boat and would’ve been more useful there, he also knew what needed to be found. That meant I stayed put. helping Mr set up the boat…Yikes!!
He makes it out onto the water and on time. His boat is called “Enjoy” and as he set out, I hope that would sum up his sail.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
– Albert Einstein
If you know me at all, you’d know that means trouble…unless, of course, he could do it all by himself. He did most of it himself. After all, he’s new to this boat, but not new to sailing and he’s sailed Lasers before. However, there was the difficulty of attaching the sail to what might’ve been the boom, and we didn’t have the right gizmo to tie it on. This meant he was trying to tie a fiddly piece of rope, while I was simultaneously holding onto the boom and trying to pull back the sail with the limited strength I have in my hands. I am not Tarzan. Indeed, as many of you know, I have a disability. However, it’s usually an invisibility, and even though my son knows all about it and has lived with it most of his life, he doesn’t always understand its practical application and simply expects me to pull my weight. Be the parent he needs me to be, and I usually try to fit the bill and ignore the personal cost. Besides, I must admit that there’s a lot of pride when I can do whatever it is, and I’m really chuffed. I’ve not only come through for our son, but I’ve also stretched myself and had a small win. A can-do experience, which obviously feels so much better than the “I can’t”.
“A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.”
– Marcus Aurelius
While Dad was off fetching the missing sail, we were welcomed into the Laser fleet by the other sailors. So far, it appears that our son is the only youth sailing a Laser and the “oldies” were very welcoming and we had three enthusiastic helpers with rigging the boat. This was fantastic. There were a lot of subtleties with the rigging and the sort of tips you learn first hand, not in a book. A few years ago, I was made aware of the “you know what you know”, “know what you don’t know” but there was also this square in the diagram for “what you don’t know you don’t know.” I’ve since kept an eye out for this stuff and when I’m listening to someone and it doesn’t make sense, it’s a pretty good indication that I’ve plunged into this territory and it’s time to use my two ears and only use my mouth for questions and clarification.
“What holds most people back isn’t the quality of their ideas, but their lack of faith in themselves. You have to live your life as if you are already where you want to be.”
– Russell Simmons
Needless to say, I fell deep into this camp yesterday as these experienced sailors were offering advice and I dearly wished Geoff would hurry back and pick up the conversation. However, at least I came prepared and had my notebook and pen in hand. That’s my unofficial brain.
We got the boat rigged. Bought him his pie to sustain him through the race and he was off to the briefing to sign in. Apparently, he needs to finish three races to get a handicap. So, the idea was for him to simply do three laps yesterday. I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing though, and was just trying to get a feel for the boat. That was a more realistic objective.
Downstairs at Gosford Sailing Club
Once we got him out on the water, Geoff and I retired to restaurant upstairs and enjoyed the view over wedges and a divinely creamy Chery Ripe Cheesecake.
Then, Geoff saw a boat being towed in and since we didn’t have our binoculars, he went off to investigate. It wasn’t Mr but while he was down there, he managed to get us a ride onboard a powerboat. Wow. It’s not often I get to go out on the water, let alone onto something fast. Remember, we’re a sailing family.
My husband Geoff was also enjoying a bit of speed.
We spotted Mr and tried to rough up conditions just enough to challenge him, without knocking him over. It was great to see him up close and I’ll also reiterate to be out on the water myself!
Unfortunately, he didn’t finish. He had a sore knee and I think he capsized a few times. However, as I said, I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing and was more concerned with finding his duck feet.
“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.”
Now, I’m back to thinking about learning to sail myself. There’s a group called Sailability, which takes people with disabilities out for a sail. I figure that’s a great place to start and start I must. I’ve been procrastinating about this for over a year now. Time to get on with it.
Are you a sailor or have you ever been interested in sailing? Do you have any adventures to share? I’d love to hear from you!