Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Farewell to Sydney, Hello to some wonderful hiking

We are heading north, the beginning of the journey home and we are very sad to leave Sydney Harbour. However, we can't complain about our new location...

After our anchor-dragging-in-the-night experience up the Parramatta River, we headed to Rose Bay to wait for the last of the rain and high winds to clear before we sailed out. The wait gave us the chance to see a few new sights and bid farewell to some old favourites:

Minesweepers at HMAS Waterhen in Balls Head Bay - we anchored opposite for a lunch stop

Waiting for a very large cruise liner to reverse out of Sydney Cove

Our final sail past the Opera House - we never get tired of seeing it

Rain closing in at our Rose Bay anchorage
Rose Bay was once the Qantas seaplane base, in the days when flights to Britain had to involve landing on water, and it's still the operational base for a much smaller seaplane business that runs pleasure flights. Tragically, Sydney Seaplanes hit the headlines a month or so ago when one of their planes crashed, shortly after take-off, up in Broken Bay, killing the pilot and all five passengers. Whilst we were at anchor, one of its sister planes did a taxi and engine test very close to us.

The following day looked just perfect for the 3 hour sail up to Broken Bay and Pittwater - sunshine and a 15 knot southerly wind. So we flew the Parasailor from the anchorage and, just as happened in Auckland a couple of years ago, an ex-America's Cup boat doing pleasure trips around the harbour came for a closer look at our sail. Parasailors are clearly a novelty in these parts!

Unfortunately, as all sailors will know, spinnakers have an evil sense of humour and love to make fools of you. We had to snuff it into its sock for a little while as we motored out of Sydney Heads but then the washing-machine seas just off the perpendicular cliffs managed to tie the sail in knots and we had to drop it to the deck to be untangled later. Ah, well, we still had a pleasant sail north but it was a frustrating moment.

So we are now back in Broken Bay, whose main sailing waterway is Pittwater; it's full of boats and is backed, to the west, by dense eucalyptus forest and steep hills.

Part of Broken Bay - we are currently anchored at the blue dot in the Hawkesbury River
With the sightly cooler southerly breeze still in place we set off on a bushwalk along a seldom-used and barely marked path in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Thankfully we'd followed Cindi's advice and downloaded the 'Handy GPS' app onto Di's phone because, without it, we'd probably have turned back before we reached the most stunning outlook for fear of getting lost:

Looking East across Pittwater towards Newport

An annotated Google Earth image of roughly the same orientation. The photo above was taken on the hillside to the right of the 'Morning Bay' caption

A closer view of the millions of dollars worth of boats on moorings and in two large marinas

Nearing the end of the hike - a really superb walk, complete with wild kangaroos in the forest!
Today, by contrast has been a gentler affair, though productive. Thanks to a tip-off from s/y Lucie, we used the excellent laundry facilities of a very nice, council-run campsite at Patonga for roughly half the price of the Chinese laundry in town (oh, the return to a plumbed-in washing machine at home will be such luxury!) and we've now found a new anchorage from which to watch the sun go down. A glass of wine or beer would be lovely, but we've decided to do Dry February - at least it's only 28 days!

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