Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sailing Around Australia; Inertia

Refuge Bay, Hawkesbury River, New South Wales

Refuge Bay, on a quiet day.

31/5/2015- Inertia

During our Sailing around Australia adventures I have found inertia another hurdle to be overcome.

Inertia, according to the dictionary is a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

For example, we were in a very happy "existing state of rest" in the confined and safe waters of Sydney Harbour.

I  lost my morning and evening routine of weather watching. While we were in Sydney we had pretty good weather. Most days there was blue skies and light wind. On days there was strong wind, protection was relatively easy to find in one of the many bays close by.

Also, while in Sydney, we didn’t have to plan for long voyages because it’s only a few hours motoring from one end of the harbour (say Manly) to the other (Parramatta river).

Added to this we loved having visitors on board such as our daughter Bree and Leanne's sister Sue. 

So we were pretty comfortable and lulled us into a false sense of security.

The external force that is forcing a change to our state of comfort, is that Easy Tiger really needs some maintenance done. The bottom of the hulls that are permanently in the water, need a new coat of antifouling paint. We have barnacles and various other forms of sealife latched on and that slows us down when we are sailing due to the increase in friction.

Also most boats have sacrificial anodes. These are metal parts made from soft alloys and attached to other metal parts of the boat. The idea is that these anodes will corrode faster than the more important parts like propellers, sail drives and motors. Our anodes are almost totally sacrificed.

Leanne has gone through several bouts of ringing around. She has also “put it out there” to the Women Who Sail Australia network and the answer is almost unanimous. The most convenient, cheapest and best service place to have Easy Tiger lifted out of the water for maintenance is the Boat Works at the Gold Coast.

With that in mind and having spent a month in Sydney, we slowly dragged out the charts, logged on to the Bureau of Meteorology and started planning the trip to the gold coast.

The first step or leg in this journey was simply from Sydney harbour to the Hawkesbury River. Saturday, it seemed that that weather would allow a window of opportunity to sail north, so the date and time were set.

Friday, Leanne spent provisioning at Manly, while I went to the Laundromat.

Being almost winter, the days in Sydney reach an early end with darkness falling around 5.30pm. This meant an early night was had by all, even though we have Leanne's sister Sue on board for her birthday, ready for a 6.00am departure.

As usually happens though, the 5.30am alarm went off too early. It was still as dark as midnight outside and cold.

An attack of inertia set in. I started looking for excuses and or some way of delaying our departure for a few days. I asked Leanne if she would like to stay put. Fortunately, she was already in departure mode.

6 hours later we were tied on to a mooring in Refuge bay, near the entrance from Broken Bay to the Hawkesbury River. This is another of those exceptionally beautiful, serene, calm places.  The water is still, the bay is surrounded by steep tree covered hills. The only sound is the water trickling off the nearby waterfall.

There isn’t a breath of wind, but it is spitting with rain, fortunately. I say fortunately because Leanne and Sue are keen to go further up river in search of good fishing spots, but my inertia is playing up again.

Tomorrow we will have to deliver Sue to the Hawkesbury River Train station. That will be enough extern
al force to get us on the move. Then we really must make our way north to the Gold Coast.

The trouble is, that from what we have seen of the Hawkesbury and Pitwater, we would like spend some time here, and that is trouble because the longer we stay somewhere the more inertia takes hold.

Easy Tiger and Euphoria on the public moorings in Manly

Feeling the Inertia kick in at Moo Cafe in Manly

Smarter than the average bear...
Washed up by a storm than attacked by graffiti vandals. Where is the love?
Rounding Barrenjoey Head means your now in Broken Bay

The Refuge Bay Waterfall...look closely.
Hundreds of moorings line Refuge and America Bay.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Saiing around Australia; Family Matters

Blackwattle Bay, Sydney Harbour.

28/5/2015 – Family Matters

To tackle an adventure such as Sailing around Australia there has to be some sacrifices. Probably the biggest sacrifice is family time.

Somewhere I read that Leanne and I are now classified as Sandwiches. That is we are in between our now independent children and our aging parents.

With our son working on a super yacht and travelling all over the world and our daughter settled in Cairns, we probably wouldn’t have had seen much more of them than we do now, had we stayed in Bunbury working jobs.

Our parents are also ok health and care wise at the moment as well. We do feel a bit guilty for not being on hand to help them out and miss sharing time with them, but we figure they will need us to be close by at some stage in the future.

So with these factors opening a window of opportunity, we set off on Easy Tiger to have ourselves an adventure.

Little did we know, as we sailed into the sunrise, that this adventure would allow us time to reconnect with extended family and how rewarding that experience would be.

This week I have clocked up another birthday, which I could have done without. Except, that Leanne, Bree and Luke all put together and brought Bree to Sydney for a few days on the boat with us. A better birthday present I couldn’t think of. 

Also, We have been joined on board Easy Tiger by Leanne's sister Sue. Sue arrived on my birthday so that helped make up the numbers for my birthday lunch. As a real treat 1/3rd of our sailing family, the Zofians, joined  us for my birthday lunch as well. 

Probably the most important item on my agenda for coming in to Sydney harbour for me was to see and spend time with my sister and her family. They have been in Sydney for 8 or so years, while we were in Bunbury building our business, so time together has been rare.

Unfortunately, the timing of our stay in Sydney harbour wasn’t great for them. They were moving out and then back into their house during renovations and then had to contend with the grief of the sudden passing of a family friend in the same week.

We had some time one afternoon, not nearly enough to get time to reconnect, but the hectic pace of everyone’s life in Sydney is evident in all that we tried to do while here.

Being from a small country town and farming community, my parents’ family seemed to be far more “connected”. Maybe that is because my dad’s brother is married to my mum’s sister, so rather than having to go to see “her” side of the family then “his” side, we could cover them all with one rendezvous and that meant we were a bit more tight knit. I remember many trips to the city to visit either grandparents or to the city cousin’s place.

Living on a farm in the country, I was often left up to my own devices, which I wouldn’t change, but it did leave one out of the social loop so to speak.

During visits to these uber cool city cousins on school holidays or the occasional weekend, I would learn so much. I would come back home with the latest hip sayings that I delighted in repeating to the other farm kids on the school bus. For example, everything was “dead set” until the next visit.

During one of these trips I was taken to my first footy match, to watch my older cousins Mark and Peter play little league. That was where I discovered Aussie rules footy existed. It became an interest of mine from then that I still have now.

Sadly, my dear Aunty Jo and John and their four kids left Perth in 1973. When I was 12. The tyranny of distance and the necessities of life from then saw visits become a rarity, so with our time in Sydney, the second item on my agenda was to see my Aunt, Uncle and cousins.

Our first Sydney stop at Cronulla, allowed us to make the first visit, my Aunt Jo and Uncle John. Even the conversations on the phone to arrange to meet, but especially within seconds of our meeting in person, one thing struck me. We are family.

The sense of family was not only instantly recognizable, but also, very strong. It was little things. Uncle John at one time had his own aeroplane. He had a picture of it on a wall when we visited their home. I instantly remembered the time he landed it at our farm and how I thought on that day, that they were the coolest family…ever.  They arrived for a family visit in an aeroplane! Give them the trophy.

 Next, we spent an afternoon and evening with my cousin Sue and her husband Doug. Leanne really liked these two, probably because they arrived at the boat with a bottle of Moet. Leanne’s kind of people, my family. These two sure fit a lot into a week. The visit reminded Leanne and I of all the hours put in to building our business, so that one day we might be able to realize our dream of having an adventure.

On a Sunday we had lunch with my cousin Peter, his partner Kirsty and friends Simon and Anna.  We really appreciated this time as Pete commutes to Brisbane each week for work, so time at home must be very precious. After the restaurant, we went back at Peter and Kirsty’s home, and found photo’s of the old days including the little league team photo that jogged more memories.

During the next week, we had my youngest cousin Michael, his wife Polly and daughter Grace on board for morning tea. Again, it was an absolute delight to meet up with another member of my extended family.

We invited Michael and his family to come on board for a night sail around to Circular Quay we were planning. This was to take in the Sydney “Vivid” light show.

We were absolutely blessed to have Michael, Polly, Grace, Bella and Phoebe on board for the evening. Easy Tiger probably didn’t even need to move out of the anchorage to look at the spectacular light show that includes the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House having images projected on to them. The conversation between all of us continued at full pace all evening.

One thought that did cross my mind while I transferred our guests to shore in the dinghy was, as my last name is Ludemann, it would not be very often that you would find a dinghy with 6 Ludemanns in it would you.

I have seen though, that the family I thought were uber cool city cousins are just that, family. Even though in some cases it may be 20 years since we have spent time together, I still think they are all very cool. Dead set.

Our time in Sydney Harbour, taking in the sights, the vivid light show and the iconic landmarks has been very special and memorable, but has been well overshadowed by family matters.

3/4 of my family with Sister in law Sue on my Birthday Lunch
Me and cousin Michael, first catch up for nearly 20 years

Michael's wife Polly, daughter Grace and our daughter Bree

A boat full of Ludemann's
From Left to right the Author Steve, Phoebe, Bella Michael, Polly and Grace Ludemann
Front row Bree and Leanne Ludemann

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sailing around Australia; What you lookin' at?

The Spit, Sydney Harbour NSW  

17/5/2015  What you lookin’ at?

Having been in Sydney harbour for a week or so now,  I have had the feeling someone has been watching me.

The eerie sensation started as we rounded the headland into Port Hacking and Gunnamtta bay.

It became more pronounced as we came in through the Sydney heads. The sort mystical feeling that has been making my ears burn.

As we have moved around the beautiful Sydney harbour, it was causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.

We started our visit to Sydney harbour on a mooring at the Spit. I kept shooting a glance out the corner of my eye, trying get a glimpse of who or whatever was looking over my shoulder.

The next day, we went under the Spit Bridge and around to the vey special Sugarloaf bay. Did we escape the notion of being watched? No. It was there too.

On the Sunday, we tackled 300 steep steps up out of the bay to civilization. A kilometer walk to the shops for a coffee. It was mothers day. The cafĂ©’s all had long lines of children young and old waiting to treat Mum to a cappucino or a frappe on her special day.

Arriving back on board Easy Tiger a few hours later, as the sun faded, the feeling reemerged. What or who was watching us?

Next morning, I did a stocktake of the surroundings. At Sugarloaf bay, there are steep limestone rocks for water level rising to about 5 metres maybe a bit more in some places. Dark lines highlight the rocks where various plants and fungi grow. Above the rock walls to the water, are natural forrest or bush with large trees and thick foliage swaying in the breeze. We were less than 5 kilometres from the Sydney CBD, but only the sounds of the white cockatoo's could be heard. Maybe it was them boring their beady little eyes into my back.

Arriving in Rozelle bay the next day, the same eerie feeling, the same hairs standing up. Even though it is a completely different environment, anchored not far from the Anzac Bridge and close to the Sydney fish market. No cockies screeching here. Just the white noise or constant low pitched drum of traffic. As we moved along it felt like we were in a haunted house going past a portrait and the eyes were following us.

I looked around the surrounds trying to figure out what all these parts of Sydney harbour have in common. The Spit, Sugarloaf and Rozelle bays might be in different parts of the country, or even in different countries such are their environmental differences. But they must have something in common to give me this overwhelming notion that my every move is being watched.

It’s the windows. Thousands of them. They line the cliffs of every bay. They are stacked on top of each other. Square windows, arched windows, round windows. Dark windows, shining windows all looking down from every possible vantage point, on every cliff, every hill and from behind every tree, windows watch us.

I have had to forgo my early morning pee off the back of the boat, as the windows are watching.  I have also had to make sure we have good clothes on and that we keep Easy Tiger clean and tidy or the windows may tsk tsk as go by.

We do get brief respite from the windows, though. That is at night. At night the cliffs and walls of the Sydney harbour come alive with a magic light show. As Easy Tiger swings around on the anchor chain or mooring rope we get a moving vista  produced by the vast array of windows with lights behind them.

Of course it’s not the windows that give the feeling of being watched, rather it’s the notion that someone is behind the glass.  I am sure that the people who own these windows are busy at work earning a dollar to pay for their harbour views.

It’s just that there are so many windows, from all angles, every where we go in Sydney harbour, that even if it’s the smallest of percentages, someone is watching us, every minute of every day.

So I say to them… What you lookin’ at? Well, it’s 2 people aboard a catamaran on a sailing adventure thoroughly enjoying the beautiful Sydney harbour. Nothing to see here. Draw the blinds.

Luna park... eyes and windows watching!

Anchored in Farm Cove. The opera house odd shaped windows.

Manly... also crammed with windows.

Sugarloaf Bay. Every vantage point taken.
Today we are being watched through the arched window.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Sailing around Australia; Sydney, Both Sides of the Coin.

12/5/2015 Sydney; Both sides of the coin.

Our sailing around Australia adventures, aboard Easy Tiger reached a milestone this week as we sailed (or more correctly; motored) under the Sydney Harbour bridge.

We have been in the Sydney harbour for a week. During this week we have made many choices by a virtual toss off a coin. Like any form of gambling this has had mixed results.

The first toss of the coin was just before we entered the Sydney heads. Shall we go to the north head where there are some easy to reach bays with public moorings, or do we brave it and transit up the main harbour, under the bridge and find a “park” somewhere in there.

The coin came down heads, and we headed north towards the middle harbour, shelter from the south westerly and the safety of a free public mooring. That was a 50/50 that went our way.

Next morning we had to decide whether to go further into the middle harbour to one of the many beautiful bays that would offer protection from the winds or to cross sailing under the Sydney harbour bridge off our to do list. We were both looking forward to the bridge adventure, but looking at the forecast winds was making it 50/50.

Again the coin came down heads and we spent a few lovely days at Sugarloaf bay. The only downside to this bay is that to get to civilization, we had to tie the dinghy to a stone wall and climb up a couple of hundred very steep steps, then walk a kilometer further along a road to a small shopping complex.

After spending the weekend in Sugarloaf bay, we had the next decision to make. Is today the day that we go under the bridge. The weather looked like it may be a bit windy, but we both wanted to be in Rozelle bay to prepare for our visitors who would be coming on board in a few days time.

This time the coin came down saying to go. So we set off without really looking closely at the weather forecast.

All went well until we rounded Bradley head. As soon as we rounded the headland we were belted with a gale force wind in our face. How would we see the Sydney harbour bridge if the wind in our eyes had us tearing up?

The engines strained, the boat slopped forward as if trying to float through treacle and the wind howled through the rigging all the way along Sydney harbour. What was supposed to be a highlight of our adventure was in danger of being ignored, as I didn’t want to put my head out for a wind blasting.

Leanne had braved the front deck. Unfortunately though our good camera chose that moment to misbehave, the self timer became jammed on. Leanne lay flat on the front deck to both to get the picture of Easy Tiger’s mast going under the bridge and I think to get out of the wind.

We motored under the Sydney Harbour bridge at about 11.30am on the 11th May 2015. But probably should have delayed another day to make it a pleasant experience.

Sydney Harbour has many small bays that make it an ideal place to have a boat. The problem is that many people agree that it is an ideal place to have a boat, therefore there are many, many boats. These boats are all moored in the many beautiful bays in many cases making them inaccessible.

I had chosen to try Blackwattle bay as I had been told by several other boaties that it was a good place to anchor for free. It would also be relatively close to the airport for Phil and Leanne who were coming from Paynesville.

As the wind thrashed at us, I had a thought. What if Rozelle and Blackwattle bays were full? I didn’t really have a plan b at that point. It would be a 50/50 as to whether we could get in there.

 By now the wind was around 30knots and I didn’t really fancy trying to anchor in close quarters in those conditions.

Under the Anzac bridge we went, through an old bridge that used to turn 90 degrees to let boats or traffic go. Into Black wattle bay.

Unfortunately Blackwattle was full. We had a brief go at fitting Easy Tiger into the boat jigsaw, but the probability for damage was far too great. We motored out and around the point to Rozelle bay, only to see the boats already moored there straining at their ropes and anchor chains as the wind seemed to funnel through with even greater force. Seemed the coin had come down against us this time.

After some “discussion” Leanne and I decided we would head back to the spit. As we motored back under the harbour bridge I saw a large bay that was being protected from the westerly wind by the opera house, buildings and the botanical gardens. There were no boats in there at all, which made me a bit suspicious. A quick look at the chart and then in our guidebook seemed to indicate that you were allowed to anchor in there and that it was certainly deep enough.

So relieved to be out of the wind, we barley noticed the rocking and rolling in Farm Cove.  It wasn’t long though before we realised why there were no other boats here. It takes all the wash from all the passing ferries and the rebounds it off the walls along the foreshore of the botanical gardens. But the positive note was the views of the Opera house in the foreground with the Harbour Bridge above it in the background which as the lights came on at night were really spectacular.

Once the ferries stopped going past, it actually turned out to be quite comfortable. This morning we were woken early by the rocking and rolling created by the first commuter ferries starting their trips back and forth.

This morning we had another decision to flip. Do we go to Rozelle bay and try and find a spot early before the wind picks up, or do we go later hoping that one of the other boats may have left.

The coin came down in favour of going early so that if we did find a spot, we wouldn’t have to try to anchor in the wind. Fortunately, the coin was in our favour, we found a spot, anchored quite easily and were back on board from shopping by 10.30am.

So adding this to our tally of wins, I would say that our luck with the 50/50 decisions seems to be in. More wins than losses so far, but we have seen both sides of the coin.

Here it comes, a major milestone of our sailing adventure!
Closer, Closer.... 
Nearly there...

Phew, it does fit! Easy Tiger's mast under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The view from the "Otherside" 
                                               Out the other side. Job well done.