Feb 20, 2007
We were in South Port for a week to file our claim against Sea Tech and made adjustments in some of our new equipment. So while our friends are off exploring New Zealand and Tasmania, we are exploring small claims court.
The winds are south easterly and mild, so we decided to go for a day sail and test our new sails. We have a new main and jib made by GM Sails and were anxious to hoist them and see what they look like and how they preformed. When we went through the cut we were surprised at how much south we were making so we put our head down and continued on toward Sydney. We knew we could always pull into one of the many harbours along the coastline if the wind backed to the south and we lost our point of sail. The winds held and we had a strong current pushing us as zoomed at 10 knots toward our destination. After two days we were 20 miles from Sydney when the Coast Guard announced high wind warnings and heavy rain in and around the Sydney area. We decided to pull into Broken Bay and continue on to Sydney the next day. We arrived at Palm Beach at 8:30 p.m. The sky was black with storm clouds and the wind had picked up considerably. Luckily in this dark we found a mooring ball and hooked up for the night. Nothing much happened that night but the next morning we had torrential rains and high winds. The following day the sun came out and we went ashore for a look around. We took the bus to Manly Beach where we did a little shopping and had lunch. During our visit we met the two brothers who run the local "fish and chips" in Palm Beach. They were keen on visiting our boat and talking with us about our "slackadventure". They are considering doing a little cruising and really liked the Fountain Pijot. Onboard we had a couple bottles of wine and had a great time answering their questions and learning more about the local area. It was a relief to talk about fun things again instead of boat projects that went wrong. We promised that we would try to stop in on our way back north so we could sample the local fish and chips.
While in Broken Bay we also heard from new friends, David and Ivana Cox, our court date was set for March 5. David and Ivana have recently purchased a Fountain Pijot in New Zealand and sailed it back to Australia so we swapped a few owners stories. They were very kind to check in on us during our stay at the marina. They also allowed us to use their mailing address for our court procedures.
The next morning we left for Sydney with the wind on the nose . Once we cleared our arrival with the port control and entered the harbour we were surrounded by sail boats. We were in the middle of a pretty intense regatta while trying desperately to take in Sydney Harbour. How exciting to sail past the famous Opera House with its' white angular roof and then under the grand Harbour Bridge. It was almost surreal. We slowly made our way to Woolrich Marina where we picked up a mooring ball for our stay in Sydney. This is a marina you have to search out and is so low key that there is hardly anyone in the office - ever. A few days after we arrived, our friends, Tom and Amy from Sandpiper, returned from Tasmania and were able to give us good advice on what to see and how best to get there.
The public transportation in Sydney is great. We were anxious to get going so we caught an early ferry into Circular Quay and bought a weekly pass that allowed us access to the buses and most all ferries. The Opera House is the magnet of Sydney and without a plan we headed there first. The structure is located on a piece of land called Bennelong Point. It is a huge complex that houses theatres, restaurants, a cinema, and lots of bars and clubs. In 1956 the Premier of New South Wales announced an international competition for the design of an opera house and received more than 200 entries. The Danish born architect, Jorn Utzon, won the competition with entry number 218. During the process of selection Utzon's sketch was originally rejected. Then a late arrival to the selection committee from America wanted to see all of the sketches, even the rejected ones. He was smitten with Utzons design and the rest is history. From the sketch the government estimated that the Opera House would cost $7 million and be five years in construction. Sixteen years and $102 million later,(this sounds like the blokes that worked on our boat) Queen Elizabeth II presided over the opening. By this time Utzon had left the project over disputes of rising cost and returned to his homeland and to this day has not been back to Sydney. Let's bore you with more details. The roof of the Opera House is 220 feet high and that it is covered with more than 1 million Swedish ceramic tiles and up by 217 miles of tensioned cables. What makes it most impressive is that in 1956 the only thing sitting on Bennelong Point was a broken down municipal tram garage. It changed the face of Sydney, In fact as early as 1953 there were only 800 hotel rooms in Sydney. And all bars closed their doors at 6:00 p.m. leaving nothing to do in the city after dark. What a difference now!
We had a grandbaby due at any moment. On a whim before leaving the dock one morning we called home. Brad and Kimberly had just had a whopping 9 lbs 9 oz baby boy, named London Alexander Slack. Mom, Baby, and Dad are all doing fine and at the time of this writing are all home adjusting to their new life.
While in Sydney Harbor we were joined by the cruise liner Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship in the world. She would only be in the harbor for 24 hours as she was on an "Around the world in 81 days" tour. The ship was so large that she wouldn't even fit in the normal slips for cruise ships but was put in the military section of the harbor. It was a spectacular event and all of Sydney turned out to take a look. We walked through the Botanical Gardens to get a closer look, amongst a steady stream of people some of who were having a picnic on the grounds. Small boats came precariously close to the massive hull and a nude water skiers streaked by stealing some attention away from the Queen Mary 2.
If this wasn't enough the Queen Elizabeth 2 was due in the harbor at 7:00 p.m., the approximate time that the Queen Mary 2 would be leaving. So Sydney, being the grand city that she is, put on a remarkable fire works display that evening. More touristy facts about the Queen Mary 2......the ship has four diesel engines and two gas turbines that provide enough power to launch a jumbo jet.....over its 40-year lifetime, it will travel the equivalent of 12 return trips to the moon.....344 bottles of champagne are consumed each day along with 6000 cups of tea and 16,000 meals are.....the average age of the passenagers in the world cruise is 60 . You don't have to sign up for all 81 days. You can just take a week off and sail for example from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale like the rock star Lenny Kravitz did. For us, we just enjoyed looking at the Queen Mary 2 and taking in her awesome size.
All throughout the day there were three Black Hawk helicopters that routinely circle the city at low level. We thought they were providing security for the big ships even though that seemed a little strange. The next day we read that the Black Hawks were doing a preliminary security check for Vice President's Dick Chaney's visit to Australia.
In all of our travels we have not thought of ourselves as sightseers but here in Sydney we made the rounds. From the famous Bondi Beach (pronouced Bon-die), to the Museum of Contemporary Art, to Doyle's Seafood at Watsons Bay, to a train ride to the Blue Mountains. Each day was filled with sight seeing and picture taking. Bondi is just "one" of the great beaches of Australia. It is close to Syndey's suburbs so it is always crowded. The waters are fraught with strong current and rip tides. Trained surfers make up the Bondi Rescue Team and they make quite a few rescues every day. In 1938 on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon, from out of nowhere came four freak waves, each up to twenty five feet high. More than 200 people were carried out to sea in the undertow. Fortunately there were 50 lifeguards in attendance that day and they were able to save all but six people. That day in 1938 is now known as Black Sunday. Still 35,000 people show up on a nice weekend day to enjoy the beach despite the rips and bluebottles (little jelly fish that have a terrible sting).
Sydney is famous for its surfing opportunities and its sailors. The Sydney to Hobart Race takes place during the holidays and the impressive Maritime Museum located in Darling Harbour is a great way to spend the day. Somewhere in the Harbor regattas are held almost every other day. Our mooring ball seemed to be located at the end of one of the legs and the boats would head right toward us making their turn very close to the boat. We even thought about getting a bucket of water and threatening the boats that came too close. But most of the time we were off the boat seeing Sydney. Our boat was actually hit by one of the small boats while we were away and it punctured the fiber glass and put yellow paint all down the side of Shiraz. So be careful where you anchor or moor in Sydney.
After a wonderful ten days in Sydney it is time for us to head north. We have a court date for March 5th so hopefully the weather will cooperate and give us a good ride back to South Port. We do, of course, plan on stopping back in Broken Bay to partake of "fish and chips" in Palm Beach.
Have a look of our photos from Sydney. Rememer to click on the arrow to start the slide show and the square to stop the show.
The arch bridge in Sydney Harbor