Monday, March 27, 2017

A look back at our time in Sydney and Pittwater

Before we get to this blog post, I wanted to a) apologize for the long interval in posting, and b) assure everyone that we are fine, and in no way affected by cyclone Debbie that is unfortunately about to hit northern Queensland, Australia.  We are waiting in Brisbane until it is safe to venture further north and our thoughts and prayers are with all those in the storm's path.

As we didn’t get the chance to update the blog with our time in Sydney before we left for New Zealand, and then we posted a few times while in New Zealand, this is a little out of order, but I didn’t want to miss out reporting on our time there, so here goes!

The day after our New Year’s celebration on Sydney Harbor, we took Cool Runnings up the rivers that lead into the harbor. Nursing a slight hangover, our captain navigated the sometimes narrow rivers looking for a spot to anchor. There was nothing to be found! There are so many boats in the Sydney area, and every conceivable spot had boats on mooring buoys. Eventually we identified a little bay as a possible spot. We’d seen it on the way up the river, and there had been only one small motor boat anchored there. When we came back, there were 3 other catamarans anchored there, but still enough space for us. We dropped our anchor, and that ended up being our home for the time we were in Sydney. It was a beautiful bay, next to a nature reserve called Berry Island Reserve. It was well protected, and there was a lovely park and playground, and it was within walking distance to 2 train stations.

Very excited to see the iconic Sydney sights!

"Our" anchorage at Ball's Bay / Berry Island Reserve.  Cool Runnings is on the left

Sunset in the anchorage
The next day, on January 2nd, Andrew and Dominique Dudley, together with their son, Nic came to the boat to visit. Andrew and Dave did Construction Management together, and we all had not seen each other since University days, but it was like we’d seen each other just the other day and we picked up where we left off 20 years ago! It was great to see them again and meet Nic (we got to meet their daughter Katherine a few days later).

Happy Reunion!  The Dudleys and the Hibberds
The following day, another old friend of Dave’s from SA days, Bruce Denley, came to pick us up from our anchorage. Bruce drove us around, giving us a lay of the land. We drove to Manly, where he lives, and walked along the beach to Shelley Beach and back. We had a lovely lunch at Bruce’s apartment, and he was also kind enough to take us to a grocery store and made a quick stop at a mall, since it was Gaby’s birthday the next day, and we had a few pressies yet to buy!! Bruce also got us set up with Opal cards, which would allow us to use the public transportation in the Sydney area. We also had fun playing with Mika, Bruce’s energetic terrier! Thanks for everything, and for a great day, Bruce!

January 4th was Gaby’s 11th birthday, and she was lucky enough to be able to spend it in Sydney, Australia! We let her choose what she wanted to do that day, and she desperately wanted to see the Sydney Opera House! So that’s what we did: we walked to the train station, and took a train into Sydney. Just the train ride was a treat for the kids! We walked up to the iconic Opera House and sat on its big steps and just took in the view. It was sometimes still hard for us to believe that we had sailed all this way on our boat, and we were actually in Sydney, Australia, looking at the Opera House!! We had a lovely day exploring the city, walking along “The Rocks”, exploring the Botanical Gardens and discovering the streets and parks of Sydney. Back at the boat, I baked a birthday cake, and we had cake and watched a movie of Gaby’s choice, “Storks”. All in all, I think not a bad 11th birthday for Gaby!

Happy 11th Birthday, Gaby!!

Time for cake!

At Circular Quay - Ferry and cruise ship terminal.  Opera House in the background (of course!)

More Opera House...

And Selfie at the Opera House!

OK, just one more, close up
At the Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens looking back at the city - Sydney is beautiful!

The fountain at Hyde Park in Sydney

Beautiful St. Mary's Cathedral - Sydney

Stunning Stained Glass window inside the Cathedral
Another look at the inside of St. Mary's Cathedral
On Thursday, after a short trip to drop our Spinnaker at a sail maker for a small repair, we had more visitors! Dave and Lea Collins, with their daughter Faye came to visit! We had also not seen Dave and Lea in FOREVER and it was wonderful to catch up! Dave and Dave Collins sailed together back in South Africa, and we had been friends for quite a while before everyone went their own way. After a lovely afternoon on the boat, we all piled into their car, and went out for pizza up the road in Crow’s Nest. All in all, a lovely afternoon and evening…thanks, Dave, Lea and Faye!

Another happy reunion:  with Lea and Dave Collins
On Friday morning, Andrew Dudley came to pick us up and took us to his house. Thank you, Andrew, Dom, Nic and Katherine for a lovely day and evening! We had lunch, went on a drive, saw Kangaroos and made a quick detour to a mall to pick up Katherine. We had a lovely BBQ and then took the train “home” at the end of a great day! Thank you, Dudley family for an awesome day!

The following day, a windy Saturday (January 7th), the Dudleys came to the boat, and we took them for a sail around Sydney Harbor. We dodged the ferries, and the many other boats that were out and about on a Saturday, and sailed over to Watson’s Bay, where we picked up a mooring buoy and had lunch. The boys, Katherine and Gaby even went for a swim, but it was a little too cold for Dom and I!! Eventually we had to go back, and had to say our farewells. We knew we’d see Andrew again, as a “Builder’s Reunion” was planned for sometime in March in the Gold Coast, but it was sad to say goodbye to Dominique. Thank you, Dom and Andrew for everything you did for us and for your hospitality!! It was wonderful to see you again, and to meet your wonderful children!

I couldn't resist!  The sky was blue, the Opera House shone white...I just love it!

Dave and Andrew with the 2 iconic Sydney landmarks

 The Dudley family at anchor in Watson's Bay
Sunday was a recovery and blog update day! We also knew the kids’ “vacation” from school was coming to an end, as we had to go “back to school”, and had decided to start again on Monday, January 9th. They had had a nice Christmas break, but all good things must come to an end, so back to school it was! We spent the following morning preparing, developing their schedules and coming up with a few new school rules that we printed and put up in the salon, so we could always reference them. The rules included, amongst others:

• School starts at 8:00am - be on time and bring a positive attitude!

• Come prepared

• Be respectful: hands up, no fighting, no talking, listen to the teacher

• Focus, concentrate….JUST DO IT!

• Bad behavior = consequences

• Good behavior = rewards

So far, it has definitely been a better school year: a little more structured, and definitely more productive!

After school was done on Tuesday, we took a train into Sydney, but instead of getting off right in the city, we got off on the station that stopped right before the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We then walked over the bridge and were able to get some more amazing views of the Opera House and the city skyline. We explored a little more, and then in the late afternoon we met our friends from “Nogal”, a catamaran from Sausalito, CA, at Hyde Park for a David Bowie tribute concert. The Sydney Festival was going on for most of January, with concerts and activities everyday around the city. This was a free concert, and we had arranged to meet Frank and Marilia, and their 2 daughters Julia (11) and Sophia (10) there. It was packed, but a lot of fun to listen to old David Bowie songs like “Let’s Dance” and everyone had a great time!

Walking over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

Walking through the House of Mirrors at the Sydney Festival

Crowds at the Tribute to David Bowie Concert at the Sydney Festival
The following day was another school day, and then Dave and I spent all day trying to plan our trip to New Zealand! We were trying to use flyer miles to book the flights, but it was proving to be quite difficult to get 4 seats on flights that were somewhat reasonable with regards to connections and times (it was easier in the end to use Amex points and book a direct flight on Emirates from Brisbane to Auckland).

On Thursday (Jan 12th) we made use of our Opal cards (for public transport in New South Wales), and we took a train to the Blue Mountains. It was about an hour and half train ride, but it was fun nonetheless to sit and watch the towns and eventually the countryside go by. We caught a bus down to the view point of the “3 Sisters”, and then took a walk along the ridge and took in more spectacular scenery. It was a nice change from always seeing beaches and ocean!

We walked through the lovely little town of Katoomba, and ended up having some lunch at the Paragon Café. It was by chance that we ended up there. We were looking at the amazing candy displays in the window, and went inside to have a better look, when we realized they had a café in the back. We discovered that the Paragon was an institution in Katoomba, having been established in 1916, and has been in the same location, and in existence ever since!

The 3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains

Dave and kids enjoying the view

Ben and Gabs admiring some of the old collectibles inside the Paragon restaurant
On Friday the 13th, we received confirmation that our boat was to be hauled out at The Boatworks in the Gold Coast on February 6th. We had been watching the weather, knowing that we had to take advantage of the first South Easterly wind that came through, otherwise we would be bashing our way back into the wind all the way to the Gold Coast. The weather forecast a SE wind to come through on Saturday afternoon, so the next day, around lunchtime, we pulled our anchor up and said goodbye to Ball’s Head Bay anchorage, and headed back through the Sydney Harbor, out the heads and the 20 or so miles to Pittwater. We arrived around 5pm and tracked down Bruce and Lyn on “JoliFou”. It was great to see them again…it had been strange not being with them! We were invited over for sundowners on JoliFou, and Brent and Ana from “Impi” were also there! It was great to catch up with everyone!

We spent a week in Pittwater, but it didn’t feel long enough! On Sunday, while I went to a local market with Lyn and and her mom, Merle, Dave and Bruce took the boats over to a sandbank and waited for the tide to go out. By the time Lyn and I got back, the boats were almost aground…JoliFou more so than Cool Runnings. So then it was time to clean the hulls! We also had a quick visit from Bruce Denley and his sister Di, who came to say hello and goodbye. Thanks for the cupcakes, Bruce!! Then, after some more hull cleaning we got ready to go to dinner at Jacqui and Guy Winship’s house. Jacqui is Bruce Savage’s sister, and again, we had not seen her since South Africa days. We had a lovely BBQ, and met Jacqui and Guy’s lovely children Bronte, and Thomas. Also present and accounted for were “Doc” and Joilet Savage, Bruce’s and Jacqui’s mom and dad, and, Keith and Merle, Lyn’s mom and dad. We had a lovely evening catching up and reconnecting. Thank you, Jacqui and Guy for a lovely evening!!

Lyn and I returning from our shopping trip - that's how we roll!!
JoliFou - almost aground (and I think that's poor Lyn scrubbing the sides!)
With Bruce Denley and Di - thanks for the visit and sorry for the wet and bumpy dinghy ride!
The next morning we had to wait for the tide to come up to float the boats, and then we moved to a new anchorage. We picked up a mooring ball and spent the afternoon enjoying our new surroundings. Since we were hanging out with the Savages again, sundowners were the order of the day! I’m going to place all blame for my weight gain on Lyn and Bruce!!

The next morning, Merle took Lyn and I to the local Aldi, where I was able to do a bit of a shop and reprovision the boat. I was also able to explore Mona Vale a little bit, and it was nice to see Bruce and Lyn’s “home town”. The kids had a great time swimming and playing in the dinghy. They hadn’t been in the water for a while. It was a little chilly, but refreshingly so! That evening, we were invited to Lyn’s parent’s house for dinner, and we were treated to a delicious curry and rice, chocolate mousse for desert and then, to top it all off, Dom Pedro’s!! Yum, yum, yum!! Thank you, Merle and Keith for a wonderful dinner and lovely evening!!

Fun in Pittwater - time for a swim off the dinghy!

A bit of rain can't dampen their spirits!
Wednesday dawned with the hottest day we’d had in Australia! Even though the wind was blowing, it was blowing hot air from the inland areas down to the sea, and it just seemed unbearable! We convinced the captain to run the generator and put on the air conditioning! What a treat!! We had a lazy day, enjoying the cool interior of our boat! The next two days went by so quickly. We finalized our New Zealand trip, the kids played in the water, and we continued watching the weather. The South Easterlies that came through only seemed to last a day or two, so we had to plan our trip back north carefully. By Friday evening we were fueled up with diesel and water and after exploring a little more of the Pittwater, we anchored next to “JoliFou” for the last time, and got ready for an early departure.

After a cup of coffee with Bruce and Lyn on Saturday morning, we said our sad farewells, and headed out into the ocean for a rough ride to Newcastle. It was hard to imagine not having JoliFou sailing with us again, but somewhere, sometime, we hope to meet up with “the Fou’s” again! Bruce and Lyn, thank you for your friendship and all the wonderful times we had together. It will always be a defining moment of our trip. We wish you all the best with your cruising plans! To those friends and family that we didn’t get a chance to connect with, or connect with again, we apologize sincerely! The time we had just flew by so fast, that before we knew it, we had to head back north! And that’s where this post ends, and the next will start…our trip back to the Gold Coast from Sydney.

Farewell JoliFou - Cool Runnings will miss you!!
And Lyn and Bruce...we will miss you even more!!


  1. Love the hair David. So glad to see you guys safe and having a great time.

    1. Thanks Vero!!! Don't worry I am getting a haircut in April the day after my mom visits us....Gaby wont let me cut it until after "granny" sees it ;) What you don't do for your kids. All the best to everyone at WF!

  2. Was really great to see you guys. Thanks for taking the time to catch up. Glad you had a good time in this awesome adopted city of ours :)

  3. Thanks for all you did for us Bruce....and great catching up after so many years!!! The kids miss Mika!!!