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.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dianne's Birthday Fireworks (something to do with New Year too)

Having scoped-out the potential anchorage spots for the New Year's Eve fireworks, all we had to do was to insert Maunie into a suitable, if worryingly small, space. We knew that lots of boats had arrived one or even two days in advance to bag a prime position but Farm Cove is pretty badly affected by the wash from passing ferries so we decided to move round there at 06.30 on the special day. 

Leaving the anchorage, we passed several huge barges loaded up with enormous mortar-launched fireworks inserted into sand-filled metal skips. The evening's entertainment was going to see 7 tonnes of fireworks being set off, across two displays, one at 9.00pm (lasting for 8 minutes) and the grand finale at midnight that would run for 12 minutes. They take their fireworks pretty seriously here!

One of the explosive-laden barges. If that went up accidentally, 30m would not be far enough!
When we arrived at Farm Cove, choosing a good place to anchor was pretty challenging as the wind was both swinging around and increasing in strength so we had to guess where the other boats would lie as conditions settled. Thankfully, we chose well and got a brilliant place only 10m from the main channel exclusion zone so we only had little boats between us and the superb view of the Opera House (about 400m away) and the Harbour Bridge.

a wide-angle shot, taken before many of the 'last minute' boats piled in
The rest of the day was slightly stressful as more and more boats piled into Farm Cove and many of the motor-boaters displayed a complete lack of anchoring skills. 

"I've got my fenders out, I'm coming in!" The driver of this boat looked very surprised when we shouted "NO WAY!" when he was about to drop his anchor 30m directly upwind of us, meaning he'd drift straight back into our boat. He did move elsewhere!
One smaller powerboat tried five times to get his anchor to hold near us and then managed to hit Maunie a glancing blow as he went in for attempt number six. Some choice words (such as 'Put it into reverse NOW and bugger off!') shouted from our foredeck meant that there was no real damage done and, thankfully, the wind dropped to nothing in the early evening.

The little boats between us and the bridge - the yellow marker on the right is the start of the exclusion zone so we couldn't have done much better.

By contrast, the scene ahead of our bow was rather more congested!
As we waited for darkness to fall, we had some great aerobatics to entertain us, though the crowd was disappointed that the plane didn't go under the bridge......

... and, as dusk fell, the light and laser show from the bridge was pretty impressive in itself
 The 9.00pm 'Children's Fireworks' was pretty awesome - with displays from three moored barges above and below the bridge firing in unison. 

There then followed a parade of ships and ferries, all dressed in white rope-lights:

A tall-ship passes under the bridge, with moving images projected onto the bridge pylons
 Finally the wait was over and the midnight display was just the most amazing thing we've ever seen (and heard and felt - the shock-waves of the firework explosions could be felt through the boat). It's very hard to do justice to it with photos but here are three to give you some idea:

An incredible fire 'waterfall' off the roadway of the bridge, whilst further pyrotechnics were fired off the arch

That was definitely a not-to-be-missed moment and we were so lucky to have such a brilliant vantage point. At 1.00am the officials allowed boats to move back into the exclusion zone so most of the small dayboats left (their skippers probably not entirely on the right side of the legal limit for alcohol) meaning that we had a bit more room and so were able to get an undisturbed night's rest.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! What a memory and a great start to a new year.