Part One


Pittwater, NSW








March 4, 2013


A spit of dense bush separates the entrance of Pittwater from the Tasman Sea. Sandy beaches along each coast are isolated by rocky cliffs. Pittwater is the first of five fingers extending from Broken Bay. It's a sailing paradise only 30 miles north of Sydney.



We tossed off the docklines in Coffs Harbour at 1300 on February 7 to arrive in Pittwater at dawn on February 9. Tenaya motored south into light SE winds. Once they backed to NE, at 2200, we switched off the engine and sailed nicely with Force 4 winds and slight seas. By 1300 the following day the winds had increased to Force 6 with moderate seas. We had a great sail down under sunny skies.



A mooring from the Careel Bay Marina will be our base until mid-May. Before we head north, we'll haul out and have the bottom painted here. Their prices are reasonable and Darby and Bluey are friendly and helpful.



Jim and I like to paddle to one side of the bay or the other. Leaving the kayak at the marina landing, we can walk into Avalon which takes about 30 minutes. It's a beach town with outdoor cafes, an organic produce shop, two bakeries, a movie theater and a fluff-n-fold.

Across the street from Woolworths, called Woolies by the locals, is Avalon Beach. There are always guys out surfing at either end and sometimes at the point beyond the rock pool. Most beaches here have protected pools. They are drained and cleaned at low water and fill naturally when the tide is high.



And why would you want to swim in a protected pool instead of the ocean? In Australia there are several reasons. Rip tides, sharks and blue bottles are the first that come to mind.



Blue Bottle is a nicer name than Portuguese Man-o'-war, but the sting is just as painful. These miniature monsters have stringy tentacles a foot long that dangle below their 1-2 inch floating blue bodies. I don't think the people here pay much attention to them though. The day I took this picture a young girl and several guys were surfing with no protection except their swim suits. I guess it's all what you get used to...

They've got some pretty cool birds here in Oz. Along with Little Penguins we've seen these around Pittwater:


Australian White Ibis and Royal Spoonbill

Nankeen Kestrel

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo


A silver gull has a nest on a boat that we pass when going ashore. Each time she squawks her loud warning and flies at our heads to scare us away. It works.



Along with gulls, cormorants aka shags, make a mess of boats here. People have all sorts of things to keep the birds at bay - colored flags, whirly poles, nets, cds strung on fishing line and frightening plastic predators.



Jim strung fishing line across the lower spreaders and attached clear plastic strips of spikes on our upper spreaders to deter unwanted visitors when we're not aboard.






At the end of the spit is Barrenjoey Lighthouse. It's a steep walk up a short, bushy point from Palm Beach. I carried a stick to clear the path of spiderwebs impossible to dodge. Spiders, like the country, are big. These orb spiders won't hurt or kill you. They're just scary. I was not about to put my hand near it for scale. Had I made a fist, she could have wrapped her eight colorful, fuzzy legs with little pointy feet around a good portion of it.



Some days we kayak over to Palm Beach, an area of multi-level upscale homes clinging to steep hills and wrapped in the limbs of towering gum trees. Along the main street are fashionable shops and cafes. A gourmet grocer offers an eclectic mix of produce, staples and treats.



When Jim first moved to Belgium to set up EastPak after VF bought it, Lily was running the UK business. She was doing an excellent job but he could not convince her to relocate to London. She went on to earn an MBA and later moved to Sydney.

She, her husband, and their young son collected us one day for a tour of Palm Beach and lunch at Boathouse. It's right on the beach with an extensive mouth-watering menu.



A couple of years ago Jim and I decided to refinance one of our condos in Mammoth. I called the bank and Korey answered. He got the ball rolling and I was eventually put in contact with a woman in my region. Her follow-up was abysmal so Korey continued to help me. After months of going back and forth on the most ridiculous things, the bank decided they wouldn't loan on the project because of insufficient insurance coverage. I was exasperated and Korey was apologetic. During the process we'd become friends.

A few weeks ago he emailed saying he'd be in Sydney for a few days. Intrigued by our lifestyle and curious to see Tenaya, he and his brother, Kevin, took the bus up to Pittwater. What nice people they are!



One day after a long paddle and steep hike Jim and I relaxed in the cockpit with cold beers waiting for the parmesan and rosemary popcorn to cook. Without warning, our little Electrolux microwave simply stopped. Pushing buttons and fiddling with the power source did nothing. It was a goner. Finding a replacement was not easy. There is one model, by one company, in all of Australia that would fit in the space. It was discontinued two years ago. Thanks to Gum Tree I found a student selling one in Sydney.



We paddled 20 minutes to the dock, walked 20 minutes to the bus stop and rode for 75 minutes into Sydney. It was raining buckets when we arrived so hailed a cab and asked him to wait while we collected the microwave. Then we hauled it back to Tenaya on a packed bus. Yep, every day is some sort of adventure.



The back of the tap water bottle says this: Thank you for drinking tap - Sydney's original eco-water. Just by choosing tap you have done a positive thing for the environment, not to mention your wallet. tap is sourced right here in Sydney and doesn't require any packaging which means it helps keep our waterways free from litter. And doing your bit for the environment costs less than once cent per litre. So let's drink to a sustainable future together.

I read it while I waited for my Eggs Benny at Cafe Ibiza in Avalon. What a great idea! I asked Tim, the owner, where I could buy a bottle for Tenaya. The water authority distributes them free to restaurants, he said, to encourage serving tap water. He gave me one, the most practical souvenir ever!



We rarely go out sailing just for the fun of it anymore, I'm not sure why. I had a blast sailing six miles over to Refuge Bay. It's a secluded location surrounded by the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. At the head of the bay a short waterfall tumbles onto the beach. I imagine there are all sorts of magical places in this vast playground.



Go to March 2013 - Part Two - Sydney, Australia


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