Monday 4th December 2017
Early morning tea – Leaving Port Stephens
At first light last Tuesday morning we upped the anchor and left Fingal Bay for the 70nm trip to Pittwater. The decks were still soaked from the previous afternoons storm but the humid air of the past couple of days had gone and the sky was clear and bright. The wind hardly rose into double figures so yet again we were motoring, still the sea was calm and the temperature pleasant. As with the last trip we saw plenty of dolphins, many of whom joined us for the ride.
Dolphins riding our bow wave
We were a little anxious about our arrival in Pittwater as we had been warned that the bays were stuffed with boats on moorings and that finding a spot to anchor might be difficult. Pittwater is one of four waterways that radiate from Broken Bay, the deep protected estuary of the Hawskbury River. Just 25miles north from the centre of Sydney it is an extremely popular spot. I don’t think we have ever seen so many boats in one place, sailing yachts, motor yachts, work boats, racing dinghies, jet skis, kayaks, every sort of watercraft imaginable, all jostling for space.
A forest of masts fills our view south
Knowing we couldn’t be choosy, we picked what seemed like a clear spot behind the large mooring field in Careel Bay and dropped the anchor. Surrounding us were steep wooded slopes full of upmarket houses, the properties fronting the water all boasted extensive views, numerous balconies and private jetties. Instead of wildlife spotting, our dingy safari took us real estate viewing, a very picturesque place to live but we suspect most were just holiday homes, besides the gardeners and maintenance men there were little signs of life. Surprisingly, there was a bit of an English West Country seaside feel to it, the tangy seaweed aroma, the call of the seagulls, the enclosing high hills, we couldn’t quite put our finger on it.
Foreshore in Careel Bay, Pittwater
With permission we tied the dingy to the sea plane dock, crossed the small beach and made our way through the houses. This was the first time we had set foot ashore since we left Southport, it felt good to stretch our legs, we found a small cafe and sat down for a coffee. However this was a residential area and there was nothing else but houses, not a shop in sight, with supplies getting low and a forecast for more storms we took out the phone and found ourselves a marina berth a few miles further into the Pittwater inlet.
For the past four days we have been tied up to the outer dock of the friendly Royal Motor Yacht Club, the fridge is now full but the weather is still very changeable. Today we are sitting out a second band of wet and windy weather, a chilly south wind blowing in through the hatches, with not much improvement expected tomorrow we have extended our stay for another couple of days.
Yesterday, on the other hand, it was lovely and taking advantage of the convenient yacht club curtesy bus, we went to the local beach. The sunshine had bought out the Sunday crowds, surfers shared the waves with a small pod of dolphins, groups of youngsters practiced there lifesaving skills and families picnicked on the orange coloured sand. As we walked down the beach, the hot surface burning our feet, taking in the happy scene in front of us we wished we’d thought to bring our swimmers. Until that was, we dipped our toes into the sea – it was freezing!
Besides the warm tropical waters, something we are beginning to miss from our Pacific island life is that nobody cared or even noticed what you are wearing. Everyone was far more interested in your journey so far, your best tips for snorkelling spots, what type of watermaker you have……. Now, however, back in the real world of shopping centres, restaurants and swish yacht clubs, the island cruiser look of crumpled clothes, home cut, sun bleached hair, bare feet and grazed shins has began to feel rather scruffy. Having arrived in Pittwater, there is a distinct possibility, that we will be shamed into breaking out the iron.