We departed Southport on the ebb tide hoping for a quick run down to Sydney in predicted light southerly winds. Unfortunately when we rounded the breakwater the wind was a steady 22 knots and higher, right on the nose. Our friends on Plastik Plankton who left just ahead of us took a starboard tack to get further offshore in an effort to clear well named Danger Point. We opted to motorsail directly into the wind hoping it would let up or change direction. At times we were making on 1.5 to 2 knots to weather, with large waves slamming into the hull. My hope was once we got closer to Danger Point the wind would shift and give us a better sailing angle, but it didn’t. It took us over 10 hours to clear the point where we could ease off on our course and at least sail close hauled, not what we had hoped for on this final leg of our six year odyssey.
|On our second day at sea the direction of the wind eased allowing us to sail close hauled towards our destination.|
We opted to check into the Australian Marine Rescue Service coast stations as we worked our way south along the coast. A volunteer service, stations are placed about every 50 to 60 miles along the coast with volunteer staff who monitored both VHF radio and cell phones. We would check in and give them our ETA to the next station. If we didn’t check in to the following station by the appointed time we would get hailed on VHF radio or a cellular phone call. If there were an issue, each station has a high speed rescue craft (usually inflatable RIBS) that can respond quickly to any emergency. I have to say this gave us tremendous peace of mind as we transited this very dangerous coast.
As we progressed further south the coast line moved more to the west allowing us a better sailing angle, finally to the point of some very enjoyable sailing as we approached the Pittwater area. We could see the lighthouse at Barrenjoey which guards the entrance to the Pittwater area. Think of Pittwater as a mini Puget Sound, with hundreds of miles of shoreline inside the protection of the coastal hills.
|Weaving our way through the race boats in Pittwater. They race almost every day of the week here.|
As we worked our way south towards our destination of Newport we were amazed at the number of boats, especially sailboats, out on the water on a Wednesday. We literally had to remember the racing/right of way rules as we weaved our way through a group of boats on the reaching leg of the race course. Soon the water was covered with moored boats, more than I’ve every seen in one place in my life. Luckily the guys from the brokerage came out in a small boat and guided us to our mooring buoy just off two major yacht clubs near Newport.
It was a tremendous feeling knowing this was the last time (probably in our lives) that we would tie up to a mooring buoy and end a voyage. We’d had two overnights, so we were both very tired and had a quick dinner and then collapsed into bed with a great sense of relief that we had finally reached our destination.
|A typical house in the neighbors. Prices start at about $1,000,000 for waterfront views.|
The next day we took the dingy into the small marina where our broker was located, met the office staff and got a quick 411 on the local area. We then walked about six blocks through a rather posh neighborhood (Newport is a very affluent area) to Barrenjoey Road, the main thoroughfare from Sydney to what are called The Northern Beaches (mainly Mona Vale, Newport, and Avalon). We were pleased to see lots of neat restaurants, bakeries, shops, and a great Coles grocery store. After a relaxing Thai lunch we stopped at a physiotherapy clinic where I signed up for some sessions to get my stiff knee back into shape. Next was a visit to Coles were Meryl stocked up on supplies, the bakery for fresh bread, the news agent to buy our Opal bus passes, and then a nice walk back to the boat.
On Friday our broker, Rod Waterhouse, took us on a cook’s tour of Newport and Mona Vale to check out the local marine chandlery, a storage place where we can offload stuff from the boat, and a neat restaurant complex called The Newport.
In subsequent days we rented a car from a local guy and secured a 4.5 square foot storage locker and began hauling loads of extraneous gear off the boat. We hope to sell most of it locally and ship the rest back to Bend, OR.
My computer was still an issue so we took it up to the local Apple retailer but were told it was too old to work on. After exploring other options I decided to buy a refurbished unit from Apple in the US and have our friends the Ballews bring it with them the following week. Naturally just after I did this one repair shop I’d contacted online gave the email address of another repair guy in Melbourne who did motherboard level repairs. I talked with his Chinese wife, and later that day sent it via Express Mail to Melbourne and amazingly had it back with two days. The repair meant disabling one graphic chip, which means I can’t hook it up to an external monitor, but otherwise it works great.
Just a side note, it’s amazing in Australia how well stuff works, such as the Postal Service. They don’t want UPS to take over deliveries like in the US so they offer stellar service. When I shipped my package to Melbourne I received emails informing me of its location along the way. The bus service is similar. You buy an Opal Card (like a credit card), load money on it at any 7-11, and tap it on a reader as you get on and off the bus. No worries about carrying money or exact change. And it works on toll bridges, trains, etc. Most Americans are unaware how much we are falling behind other countries in areas such as transportation, airports, and mail delivery.
|Meryl browsing at the Avalon Market.|
|There are beaches like this all the way along the coastline from Sydney northwards.|
On Saturday Nov 19th we took the bus five miles north to the town of Avalon, which was hosting it’s once-a-year Market Day. There must of been over 500 booths and stalls selling everything under the sun. Meryl was in 7th heaven just browsing at all the clothing shops. Afterwards we went across the street to the Avalon beach where a gently surf was rolling in. All the public beaches have a specially built “swimming pool” area (usually made out of rock and facing the ocean so waves keep it filled with fresh water). It must be nice to swim in a protected area without having to worry about a Great White Shark having you for dinner.