Monday, 25 March 2013

Comfortable Cruising

It is very comfortable cruising in Broken Bay and in particular in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. This is for three main reasons:

1.  Public moorings are provided everywhere so there is no need to anchor and more importantly no need to retrieve and clean a muddy chain (particularly as I haven't yet installed the washdown pump that is still in the box in the bilge!).
2. A dude in a boat comes around each day to all the bays and sells the papers, coffee, bread etc etc,
3. Waterfalls abound ashore for a daily fresh water washdown of salty kids (no need for aforementioned pump)!

D'Arcy buys the weekend SMH


We spent a great few days pottering about various spots in Broken Bay including a picnic lunch at Patonga Beach with our friends Caro, Pritch and Doogs. The anchorages weren't too crowded at all and we met some really nice friendly local sailors.

Local traffic bringing Sydney folks up to swanky restaurants

The girls loved swimming from the boat and also getting in and under waterfalls. One set of falls in America Bay were hard won after a steep climb to the pools at the top.

View from above

The climb to get to the view

The reward for the climb
I'm writing this having just crossed the Swansea Bar while we wait an hour for the bridge to open so we can enter Lake Macquarie. The trip up from Broken Bay took us 7 1/2 hours motorsailing at first and then with a nice following 15-20 knot breeze filling our poled out headsail for the final 3 hours to reach the bar on a rising tide. It was also our first bar crossing of the trip so good practice in terms of getting the tides right etc. Luckily Swansea Bar has a good reputation as not being too nasty and today it was a calm bar that greeted us as we crossed it.

We grabbed this opportunity today to head North before another 5 or so days of Northerly winds set in tomorrow.

We are looking forward to visiting friends and relatives in Lake Macquarie and also seeing the sites of what looks to be a fantastic waterway.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sydney Harbour Happenings

We've been on the move a bit lately. First it was up the Harbour to Manly where we anchored for the night and did some shopping. Nice little beach at the anchorage which is also a little penguin nesting site. With forecast strong SW winds and our desire to leave the boat while we caught up with various people we moved the next day into Middle Harbour.

It was fun going through the Spit Bridge and having it open for us as all the vehicle traffic stopped. We then wound our way up through Middle Harbour to the very quiet and picturesque Long Bay and the Cammeray Marina. Here we picked up a mooring surrounded by amazing waterfront homes built on the vertical terrain around the bay. The Marina was great with hot showers and very friendly people and was only a short dinghy ride from our mooring.
Through The Spit bridge

Sunrise on a calm Middle Harbour

Cammeray Marina nestled in amongst the houses
First stop for us was the Botanic Gardens where we caught up with all of Emma's family for a really great picnic. A short bus ride into town and a ferry and bus home via Neutral Bay were also fun for the girls. The 197 steps from the Marina up to the street were not so fun. The next day we went to Collaroy Beach to visit friends Jo, Charles, Jamie and Alex in their beautiful and friendly house on the beach. Of course not only did they get to have us over for lunch they also got to have us do our laundry while we ate!

The Nicholsons and their offspring in the Botanic Gardens
In the big smoke
Once the weather died down we left Middle Harbour on Tuesday and had a great sail under spinnaker up the coast to the Hawkesbury River. It was nice to pick up a public mooring last night surrounded by national park and only a few other boats. This morning we woke to silence save the local bird calls and are looking forward to some walks and relaxation for a few days while Northerlies set in and slow our progress up the coast, we're in no hurry.
Em helms as the Spinnaker powers us North

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tigers in the City

Our final week in Port Hacking was filled with boat jobs, shopping and time with family. A number of the boat jobs were as a result of the warmer climes we are in now. Fans were fitted to all cabins, a water pump to help cool the fridge and also a new battery bank to replace the old dead one and also up our storage capacity. There were myriad other little maintenance jobs as well but the list of those never diminishes!! The kids kept busy fishing from the dock and playing with cousins in between the odd bout of school work.  Prior to leaving Hobart I remember saying to Em that it must be easier to leave port when you are living aboard and don't have to do so much. After nearly 4 weeks in Port Hacking and a very hectic few days to get ready to leave I can now say I was very wrong!!

D'Arcy keeps busy trying to catch the elusive Marina Bream
The Cousins see us off
Farewell to the Bundeena Ferry

With a mixture of sadness and excitement we left Port Hacking and had a great short sail up into Port Jackson and Sydney Harbour proper. We even gave the spinnaker a short run as we left Port Hacking. Ava was sad to leave her cousins but glad to be away from the elusive Marina Bream that swam all around her and D'Arcy's bait but never took a hook! It was fantastic to see the Sydney beaches go past and then to sail in through the heads. We anchored in Athol Bay, right below Taronga Zoo and with amazing views of the Harbour Bridge, City, Fort Denison and Opera House. Sydney Harbour is nautical mayhem to the Tassie yachtie and we are adjusting to constant boat wake, people anchoring on top of us and really big and fast vessels of all kinds. We haven't seen any cheaper looking cruising boats thus far, lots of bright stainless steel and white hulls though!! All pretty exciting to watch though as ferries, warships, racing yachts and super yachts all sail past.

Sailing North to Port Jackson

Into Port Jackson
In the Harbour
Expectation builds
It was quite surreal watching the sunset behind the Harbour Bridge while various gibbons, lions, seals and elephants bellowed from the hill above in the zoo. The girls were pretty excited by the time they went to bed. The next day we took the dinghy ashore and had a fantastic day at the zoo that kicked off with a cable car ride to the top. Highlights were the amazing bird show, the seal show and a whole range of exotic animals including Sumatran Tigers, Orang Utan and Giraffe. Although the animals are caged, the enclosures seem great and the zoo pushes a fantastic conservation message. Amazing to be able to anchor just below the zoo in the middle of Sydney Harbour with a nice sandy swimming beach just off the bow.

Our first Sydney harbour anchorage and sunset

View from the cable car, that's Aratika 2 anchored below.

Sumatran Tiger

Understandably tricky to fit all this guy in the photo! 

A swim to cool off at the end of a busy day at the zoo
We're off for a cruise around the opera house, bridge and Fort Denison this morning and will then make our way up to Manly for a few days while it blows Southerly and we catch up with friends. 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Capital Capers

There was lots to do in Canberra. We drove down on Monday in a hire car and arrived at our accommodation by mid afternoon. The girls spent the first 20 mins running around the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment looking at everything, taking photos and being excited at the space. Just 3 months living on a boat has had quite an impact that is evident when we find ourselves with lots of room!

We had a great dinner with our friends Sam, Olivia, Jen and Dave before heading to the apartment for Em to get ready for work. The girls and I borrowed bikes for the week and settled into a great routine over the coming days of school in the morning followed by a ride to an attraction in the afternoon.

Canberra the cyclists paradise

First stop was the National Science Museum Questacon which was just fantastic. 4 hours of non stop fun with the girls running from activity to activity. Freefall slippery slides, the delights of the deep ocean, earthquake simulators, lightning displays, myriad puzzles and problems to solve along with singing robots were just some of the highlights. Ava declared it the best museum she'd ever been to.
Problem solving at Questacon
We haven't caught one of these yet! 

Ava tries to boil water by hand
The next day the rain set in however the girls were not deterred from swimming in the pool at the apartments with friends Emma and Megan and we still managed to ride to the National gallery clad in our raincoats. There we saw Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly paintings, amazing indigenous art, Vanuatu Kastom works and also spent some time creating our own art in the kids gallery area.

Nolan's Ned kelly
Young artists
A wet ride

Next it was off to the National Museum where we looked at Australian history including lots of indigenous artefacts and the giant skeleton of a Diprotodon.

Dwarfed by Diprotodon

We followed up with a quick trip to the war memorial where it was submarines, planes and then bagpipes being played at the daily closing ceremony. Our final night was spent at Stu, Margot, Matty and Will's place and we really enjoyed catching up so with many various friends over the whole week.


D'Arcy and a Lancaster as flown by her great grandfather Tom

Em gets her Canberra Laksa fix with friends 
Em had a great time being back at work for the week and we have now returned to what is a continuing theme of a very wet and windy Port Hacking. It's nice to be back on the boat though as it now feels very much like home. This week will be full with various boat jobs, school and more cousin time before we head North when the weather allows us sometime from early next week.