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.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Sailing just for the fun of it, while we still can

We're watching BBC reports of blizzards and snow drifts across Europe and see that even the normally-mild south west of England has been carpeted in snow. Mixed feelings here - on the one hand it would be fun to be back in a winter wonderland after five yeas of perpetual summer but, on the other, well, perhaps not.

Our shipping date from Newcastle has been delayed by about 10 days (now due on the 16th March) and so we have decided to stay in beautiful Pittwater and Broken Bay, to enjoy the sunshine and get as many boat jobs done as we can, before sailing north to meet the ship. The MV Damgracht sounds like a German swearword but looks pretty impressive:

This area has to be one of the best sailing playgrounds that we've ever known and being here has made us do something that live-aboard sailors often fail to do - go sailing just for the fun of it. Long-term cruisers tend to think in terms of passages from one harbour to the next and then the sails are stowed and we start living in the new temporary neighbourhood. Somehow the effort of rigging the boat for anything other than the journey to the next place seems too much. It has been lovely, therefore, to have the time here to say, 'It's a great sailing breeze, let's go and play for a couple of hours' and,of course, all the local boats racing or just messing about on the water just act as encouragement.

Di on mainsheet-traveler trimming as we beat out into a 20 knot breeze

Lovely downwind sailing into Cowan Creek

Those returning home on a Sunday evening had a less pleasant experience, motoring against wind and swell

One of the many free visitors' moorings - this one at Cottage Rock Beach

The view from the beach
There are so many lovely anchorages to chose from here, some more sheltered than others and some offering unexpected benefits. At Cottage Rock we found that there's a freshwater spring pouring onto the beach and some enterprising sailors have installed a couple of pipes to channel the water:

After months of conserving water on Maunie, an unlimited fresh-water shower was a wonderful thing....

..... even though it's cold!
Somebody has even bolted a hook to the rock to allow you to fill a bucket or jerrycan
In between these fun outings, we've been based on a lovely mooring that belongs to the Woody Point Yacht Club. Sue and Ian, whom we first met in Vanuatu when they were staying aboard Sel Citron, are members of this wonderful club (club motto: 'For drinkers with a sailing problem'); Sue is the Commodore this year and they take their boat Perseverance out each Wednesday night to act as the start / finish boat for a racing fleet of around 60 yachts of all shapes and sizes. We've joined them a couple of times and Graham took loads of photos that he's given to the club:

Perseverance was built as a Navy work boat during the second world war and was given a new cabin and a massive 6-cylinder Gardner diesel engine in the 1990's 

Dennis, left, does the hard work of the race committee whilst everyone else drinks and eats

So, very sadly, this is our final weekend in Pittwater. We celebrated with a superb spinnaker run to a mooring at Hallets Beach yesterday with a wee refreshment en route; Graham is very delighted to have found Thatchers Cider on sale in local bottle shop!

We'll sail up to Newcastle on Monday - it's about a 10 hour passage and there's a southerly wind forecast to help us along  - and then we have about 10 days in the marina to get Maunie ready to meet Damgracht. The list of jobs covers a side and a half of A4 paper so we won't have too much time for regrets about leaving here.

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