Friday 28th Dec 2017
Christmas in the heart of Sydney
Celebrations started with Christmas Eve sundowners on Raya. There were only eight yachts in the small Blackwattle anchorage so we went around and invited everyone for a glass of Pimms. Not really a Christmas drink but with temperatures at almost 30C, it seemed more appropriate than mulled wine. We ended up with 17 people, from 6 different countries, squeezed around the cockpit table. The chatter was lively as the Australians were quizzed on their local knowledge, the Americans explained the logistics of shipping their boat home in the New Year, the French told us about life in New Caledonia and the Danish and Swedish described their plans for their traditional Scandinavian Christmas Eve feasts later that night.
On Christmas Day we went across for a delicious rack of lamb with our American friends John and Deb on Moonshadow. And in a continuing spirit of cultural exchange we introduced them to traditional English Christmas Crackers and they us to Deb’s family Christmas onion pie. We returned to Raya full and happy in time to catch family and friends as they enjoyed Christmas morning in the UK.
Good sports John and Deb wearing their cracker paper hats
Boxing Day it was back on Moonshadow to go out to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The thrilling lead pack of 100ft Super Maxi yachts, using every inch of the course, powered by at about twenty knots just meters away. But the real action was the mayhem of spectator boats that fought for the best view of the fleet, especially local boat Wild Oats XI. The water was churned to a lather by the crowd and the mad power boat drivers, whose only purpose seemed to be showing off how fast they could drive through the throng, John deserves a medal for keeping us and Moonshadow safe.
Local favourite Wild Oats battling out through Sydney Heads
Having eeked out our freshwater all week, Wednesday we said goodbye to Blackwattle Bay and motored out to the cleaner waters of Manly Harbour. Once the watermaker got going we enjoyed a shower and did a couple of loads of washing. A nice seaside town Manly felt open and bright after the inner city. Getting ashore, however, was not as easy and required scrambling over railings at the top of a long vertical ladder, onto the high ferry dock. Once on dry land we walked the 1/4 mile over the headland to the ocean side and Manly Beach. A long curve of sand stretched into the distance, we were struck by the wealth of public facilities available. Half a dozen volley ball nets sat at the top of the beach, good quality BBQ grills awaited takers, surfboard hire with deck chairs for parents were spaced at convenient points along its length and lifeguards, warning signs and their equipment were every where. On the inner beach there were even shark nets to protect the swimmers. What sharks we asked ourselves?
Also ashore was a supermarket so we stocked up for our NYE celebrations. Not wanting to risk carrying all the bags down the steep ladder Rick bought the dingy around to the harbour beach and we loaded up from there. Disaster nearly struck when the crate of beer didn’t quite make the transfer from dingy to Raya, only a dramatic dive from Rick, mindless of the the potential for man eating sharks, saved the bottles from sinking 12m to the sea bed.
Then it was time to up anchor and move on to reserve our spot for the fireworks. We have just arrived in a rather bouncy Athol Bay, below is a photo of our unbeatable view. Unfortunately it is inevitable that wherever we place ourselves, another million boats will appear in the next couple of days to spoil the vista, fingers crossed a huge motor yacht doesn’t sit itself right in front of us.
Our Current View for the fireworks, let’s keep our fingers crossed nothing too big comes in to block the view.