Saturday, January 6, 2018

What Can You Do in Sydney?


As the crow flies, the distance between our two furthest positions, Sommes Harbor, Maine, and Sydney, Australia is about 8882 nautical miles.  Yet somehow it took us 31,000 miles and six years to get here.  Maybe that is why the sight of Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge seemed so monumental to us.

Whatever it was, it was just the beginning.  Sydney was like no other destination for us.  This city has a million vistas and every one is just marvelous, like this one looking across Blackwattle Bay to the city.


Sydney does some amazing transformations at night.

The Anzac Bridge viewed from our dinghy dock, one of the hundreds of walks and parks along the endless waterfront.

With the city just a 15 minute walk from Moonshadow's anchorage, we jumped into full tourism mode.  First stop was the musical production of Carole King's life Beautiful at the Lyric Theater.  We knew every song, and enjoyed every minute.

The view of the Sydney Opera house is different from every angle.




But when you get up close the Opera House takes on a whole new personality.  Looks like Deb has the worlds largest expandable fan...


... while John is in the middle of the worlds largest brassiere...


... or maybe a cathedral...


...there were certainly some heavenly views that day.



In the walk around Blackwattle Bay and elsewhere in the city evidence of the Christmas Season was all around us.  

We realized we owed ourselves a gift.


So, being tourists, and despite the fact the city was so close, we hired a car, then quickly faced the reality of driving in a crowded city.  On the wrong side of the road.

But that allowed us to visit places like the beach at Coogee, where our son Dustin lived.


And drive to the beautiful residential village of Mosman, where they have a small marina full of beautiful yachts.  

This one turned out to be our last boat before Moonshadow.  The beautiful William Tripp 52 footer Legacy.  Well cared for by her new owner, Paul Chadwick,  Legacy is still looking marvelous at age 45.

Nearby is the Taronga Zoo where the giraffes dine with the best view of Sydney.

We made some new friends there, but their social skills were somewhat limited.



One of the best exhibits was outside the zoo on the drive home.  Good enough to stop traffic.  Mom stopped every 4-5 steps and looked around to do a re-count.  Adorable.

Later, great friends from Pittwater, Susie and Stuart Broom, took us for a drive to some sights we'd missed, including the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

CYCA hosts the annual Sydney to Hobart Race, which starts on Boxing Day, Dec 26, so when we were there we saw hundreds of crews making last minute preparations for the race.  

Among the participants was the fleet of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.  The Sydney Hobart is but one leg of the Clipper which stops at 8 ports before finishing back at the start in England.  Each boat has a crew of around 18, some of whom have never sailed, but for a fee sign up for one or more legs of the race. Many of the twelve teams' identical 70 foot yachts were tied up at CYCA.

Then, just around the corner was this beauty.  Sparkman and Stephens never designed an ugly boat, or a slow one.  At the age of just 21, Olin Stephens created the legendary 52 foot yawl Dorade.  Before us was a piece of yachting history.  Now, 87 years old, Dorade entered the Sydney Hobart as part of a world tour of premier regattas, many of which she had previously sailed in decades ago.


While digesting that taste of nautical history, we visited the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour and were treated to some really choice bits of history.  Among them was the steam yacht Ena, beautifully restored, and reminiscent of the Steam Yacht Medea on display at the San Diego Maritime Museum.  Here on the stern is a combination skylight, companionway hatch and seat bench.  Teak, brass, and etched glass.  Exquisite.

Another was the replica of HMB Endeavour, originally sailed by some guy named Cook.  A docent informed us there were nineteen miles of rope in the rigging.


It was interesting to see the furnishings below.  In the Captain's cabin, we found this beautiful desk next to a fireplace and had to look around to verify we were still aboard a ship.

Nearby there was a replica of a chart created while Endeavour was surveying an area inside the Great Barrier Reef near the Whitsunday Islands that we'd recently visited.  The docent aboard shared an interesting story the told by the chart.


As the ship proceeded, the crew took and recorded depth soundings later plotted on the chart.  Then she ran aground (red circle) on a coral reef.  After pitching all the canons, ammunition and other heavy stores overboard, Endeavour was finally floated, then towed by crew rowing the longboat to an anchorage on the mainland where her hull was repaired.  We're pretty sure there was no boatyard there at the time.   Listening to Cook's trials made our experience with coral bommies seem rather tame.



Knot logs have come a long way.  This Chip Log was used to measure Endeavour's speed.  Tossed overboard, the quarter-round "chip" created the needed resistance to pull out the line off the spool.  At the appointed time, measured by a sand filled hour glass, the number of knots that had run out revealed the speed Endeavour was making.  Over time, the recordings of speed and direction from the compass could be used to calculate distance travelled, which helped solve the question "where the heck are we?"

Get all that wrong and you could end up like Deb here, lashed to the grate awaiting 50 lashes from the Cat O Nine Tails.  Closest we got to that was enjoying an Australian beer of that name "One Fifty Lashes".


Nearby is the Sydney Aquarium.

In all our travels, the last real clown fish we'd seen was in our salt water aquarium years ago.

Also we saw the first one of these.  This photo was only possible because we were in the tank with the fish.  OK,  we were actually in a glass tube inside a giant aquarium.  Wonder what the fish thought of us.


Back in Blackwattle Bay, our friends Rick and Roslyn Smith invited the surrounding yachts aboard their beautiful 56' Oyster Raya for sundowners.  Nobody turned them down!

We spent another day with San Diego friend Kim Heyer.  How was it we knew so many people in Australia?!  Kim just happened to be down visiting her son.  We hadn't seen Kim since she moved to Hawaii years ago, but had a great time catching up.

We spent part of the time with Kim visiting the Modern Art Gallery where the exhibits are not just framed paintings.  This is a maze of lights hanging from the ceiling and constantly changing colors to the accompanying music. 


At the Modern Art Museum, you can become "art".


Imagine if you had the time, you could collect driftwood and sort them into pieces that look like animals.  If you just had the time.  

This artist did. 

(Click on the photo to zoom in and see the wooden creatures.)

Boxing day, the day after Christmas, is special in Sydney.  It is the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race.  The entire city and lots of imported visitors are all on the water to watch it.  

Aboard Moonshadow, we had cruiser friends Rick and Roslyn (Raya), Walter and Meryl Conner (Flying Cloud), and Andrew Payne (Eye Candy) along to watch.  We met Flying Cloud and Eye Candy way back in Charleston, South Carolina back in 2012, and have been running into Raya all over the South Pacific since Tahiti 2016.

The first group was the fastest division which included four 100 footers.  

As they sailed close hauled up to the first buoy, we could see a crew member up the mast aboard Wild Oats XI.  

You had to look fast because they were gone as soon as they passed by.

Later we saw the yawl Dorade looking gorgeous as usual.


Some of the racers looked like they would sail into the spectator fleet.

That would not have been a good move.

Most were well behaved, but not all.  Ever notice how sometimes horsepower and IQ are inversely proportional?  This genius thought the best thing would be to fly through the spectator fleet at 25 knots in a 65 foot motor yacht.  

Guys like that make it less fun for some of the others.

On our way back to Blackwattle Bay, we noticed these barges with warnings to keep clear.

There were six of them full of fireworks.  Six.  That got us thinking.

We finally relocated Moonshadow to an anchorage in Athol Bay, near the Taronga Zoo.  We were told this would be a good spot to observe the fireworks on New Year's Eve.  One night, after midnight, John went on deck before bed.  There he saw the operators testing the laser lights and confirmed this was THE spot to be for New Year's Eve.

The spot was great, but sometimes the neighbors left their garage door opened.

Wish we had a garage like this.

Finally the night came.  We had a great dinner aboard Moonshadow with crews from Flying Cloud and Raya, and cruisers we'd met in Panama, SY Yollata, and Pittwater friends Stuart and Susie Broom.  Yollata's Scott and Tracy, with their adorable kids Will and Molly, and Stuart and Susie had all crewed aboard Moonshadow when we transited the Panama Canal in 2013.  What a terrific reunion!

The 9:00 PM fireworks could be seen from all six barges, and were enough to keep us awake for the midnight show.

By midnight our guests had returned to watch from their own boats, but Susie and Stuart stayed with us.  After the fireworks we stayed up laughing and talking until 3:00 AM, then slept in until ten the next morning.  Welcome 2018!

Moonshadow is in the foreground of the pic below.

We had been told the Sydney NYE fireworks were the best in the world.  

Trust us.

They are!


This is bucket list stuff.







Happy New Year!