Sunday 7th April 2013

Lovely weather again for our planned trip to Cockatoo Island. Left the dinghy at Cameron's Marina and walked to Balmain to catch the Ferry. Arrived at the island early before the crowds. Fascinating place with history of convicts and shipbuilding.

The graving docks were very impressive. Its sad to see this amazing infrastructure fall into disuse and neglect.

The lathes and machinery that used to be in here to fabricate and repair big ship propellors and shafts were massive.


Volunteers are trying to preserve what they can so much has gone.

By 1.00pm the crowds were starting to build so we hopped on a Rivercat for a ride up the Parramatta,River past the Home Bush Bay Olympic Site. We enjoyed the scenery and just stayed on the ferry until we ended up back at Circular Key. Enjoyed some street theatre (a contortionist) while waiting for our ferry. Checked on Skedaddle and flushed her water maker on the way back to our boat.

Monday 8th April

Still fighting the bug but went over to Birkenhead Shopping Centre for a few supplies and a look around. Moved on to Athol Bay just below the Toronga Park Zoo. Went for a long afternoon walk around Bradley's Head to Chowder Bay. This was a great walk through National Park and then along the foreshore in front of some magnificent old harbourside homes. Lea cooked dinner in the galley with a view.

We had a fair bit of Ferry Wash causing us to jiggle about but the night view of the city lights was stunning

Tuesday 9th April

Still a bit of morning rain about but the afternoons are fine. We moved over to Elizabeth Bay and anchored near the Tug station behind all the moored yachts. we waited for the rain to stop then went off on our Potts Point and Kings Cross Walk. We climbed a few hills and took in the iconic El Alamein Fountain

in Kings Cross and Elizabeth House which was a bit of a disappointment although the gardens were beautiful. We spent another jiggly night in Elizebeth Bay and met Graham on Mental Block a Lagoon 40 catamaran. His wife Deb is a producer for Australian Story and has just done the Americas Cup Story.

Wed 10th April 2013

Back to Manly and the Laundromat for the washing. In the afternoon we did the long walk from Manly to Spit Bridge. Another fabulous walk via Grotto Point and Aboriginal rock carvings with a courtesy bus at the end to return us to Manly.



Dinner with David and Heather at our new favourite Italian Restaurant in Manly. On the way ashore we met Kia from Atea and the crew of Reef Dragon, a 44 foot Privilege Catamaran doing research all around the Australian Coast Line. It turned out that the volunteer skipper Ian was the man from whom I had I purchased the temporary mould frames to build Christmas Beatle nearly 20 years ago. We arranged to have a catch up at Sundowners the next day. Kia and John spent last year cruising Vanuatu and the Solomon's so we arranged for morning coffee with Kia to chat about their cruising experiences.

Thursday 11th April

Spent the morning having coffee and chatting to Kia and their 17mth old son, Bracka onboard Atea then did a run into Manly for more beer.

Sundowners was a great night with 8 of us. Ian and I caught up after 20 years. He still owns his Grainger 37 Boomeroo but is currently involved skippering for this research project studying marine life stocks in designated areas to compare with previous assessments of the same areas over the years.The Marine Biologist Sam was a delightful young man who shared stories of his visit to Middleton Reef (our en route destination to New Cal) and reassured us it is a good safe anchorage. He raved about the diving there and promised to send me the GPS co ordinates of some good ones. He also said he hopes we like sharks as the area is full of galapagos sharks. His advice was to just poke them ( he uses his clipboard) if they get too close and inquisitive, yea right. Kia and John talked about Stand up Paddle boarding and the inflatable boards they have. We were keen to try it so arranged to have a go tomorrow.

Friday 12th March

Borrowed the SUP's from Kia and got a quick lesson. We then had them for the day and had a ball. Between paddles I researched the boards and got in touch with the agent for Red Paddle Co. and Lea and I discussed pros and cons of having them . In the end we agreed they would be good as it was an activity we can do together. I had always fancied kite boarding but agreed with Lea it has a very limited use envelope.


Saturday 13th April

Found the paddle board shop close by in Manly. They had a smaller board in stock that would be more suited to Lea and it was designed for surfing so the 2 different boards will give us more options. Mine had to ordered in. We took Lea's board back to the boat and inflated it. We both had a go and were very impressed. These were a new model and we found them much more stable than the ones we had tried.

We moved over to Balmoral for dinner at Heather's place. She prepared Margaritas and a great Thai Fish Curry for us. Her house is magnificent, very modern, 3 levels and overlooking Balmoral Bay towards Manly. Another great night was had. David is a friendly, slightly eccentric Englishman who retired early to enjoy, sailing, skiing and travelling all over the world by volunteering as crew on other people's yachts.

Sunday 14th April

Up early to fill up with water at Middle Harbour Yacht Club (MHYC), passing the old Balmoral Baths in the early sunlight.

Lea caught up on some more washing then back to a very busy Manly to explore North Head. We walked up to North Head past the Gatehouse and Parade Ground and did the tour of the Fort into the old gun emplacements and WW2 tunnels and the Avenue of Honour. Our guide was very knowledgable and gave us lots of insights into life of the artillery gunners.


After coffee and banana cake we walked back via the Quarantine Station Cemetery, then to Shelly Beach on the north side of Manly. It was a hot day so everyone had flocked to the beach.

Back at the boat we showered and changed the caught the Manly Ferry to Circular Quay. The ferry was packed with a full load of 1000 people. We met up with Greg and Janie for drinks and dinner on the harbour-side, overlooking the Bridge, then off to the Opera House to see Birdy in concert.

The support acts were a bit boring and I think I fell asleep at one stage but Birdy was fabulous. It was a great concert and we all enjoyed it. At the end we rushed off to catch the last ferry back to Manly at 11.00pm. Another big day!

Monday 15th April

Just for something completely different it was another gorgeous day. We headed into Middle Harbour after a lazy start to the morning to catch the 10.15am bridge opening. Settled into Sugarloaf Bay on the CCCA mooring there. We wished we had the second SUP as it would have been great to paddle around the bay. Lea was busy researching New Cal while I replaced all the worn ropes at the back of the boom. A simple job turned into a nightmare as I realised that the outhaul was 4:1 inside the boom and I had failed to knot the bitter end so it had pulled through and disappeared. It then took all afternoon to set up mouse lines and try to rethread the outhaul line. In the end we thought we had it fixed but I think there is still some twists so at some stage I will have to pull apart the whole gooseneck end of the boom. Joy oh joy!

Tuesday 16th April

Rain again so there was no excuse for avoiding the blog. So while Lea went back to restitching rear covers I wrestled with the joys of Blog apps. And that brings us back to the beginning of this epistle so I'll end it there for now.