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Well, it seems we had missed something about all the mooring balls in Refuge Bay. By mid-morning the anchorage had definitely started to fill up and by late this afternoon, when we went ashore again for a swim, the little beach was packed.

Most of our morning, though, was spent exploring further afield in the dinghy and taking in the sights of Cowan Creek, a 7 mile long waterway which runs through the beautiful Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, as well as Coal and Candle Creek, home to Akuna Bay Marina, where dry storage, a café, a general store and "grog" can be found.

However, a stop off at Cottage Point was definitely the highlight of our outing. Situated on the western headland of Coal and Candle Creek, it comprises waterfront houses, jetties, moorings, the Marine Rescue base, a restaurant, a café, where we enjoyed a morning coffee, and a general store, trading since 1918.

It was the numerous giant jellyfish that amazed us, though, and had us dogging them as we dinghied along. We've no idea if these are harmful in any way, but they are certainly very intimidating given their size; larger than an adult's head excluding their very thick tentacles.

By the time we returned, most of the moorings were occupied by house boats that come from a rental company in the Hawkesbury River. In true easy-going Aussie fashion, everyone was having a great ol' time and we certainly noticed that the house boats are an excellent option for families and friends wanting to enjoy a weekend on the water together, especially since many were rafted.

While Elaine felt a little out of sorts from the side effects of having to increase the dosage of her medication today and decided an afternoon nap was in order, Roy fixed a leak we uncovered in the port aft shower sump, which explained the water in the bilge, even after we had disconnected the water heater. Hopefully that mystery is solved once and for all now!

Today was a day of relaxing and baking. Freshly baked soda bread accompanied a cooked breakfast, complements of Roy. Then Elaine decided to bake an apple pie. Guess we'll have dessert for a few nights again, given that we've consumed all our baked goodies we bought on our last provisioning trip before we left Sydney.

Elaine spent the rest of her day continuing to write our next website article, while Roy got stuck into polishing the stainless steel and fixing the back rest of the cockpit seating area, which has been an annoyance for a few months now. When he ran out of inclination for any further physical work, he enjoyed the rest of his day reading.

Weather wise, it's been gusty and slightly lumpy most of the day as the forecast strong northeasterly winds kicked in. Fortunately we're nicely protected for the most part, but it did force us to change our plan of going ashore for a beach picnic. Or, it may well have been the case that we were both actually just happy to stay on board and chill!

With the weekend approaching a number of motor boats and house boats have left their marinas in Pittwater, about 3NM away, and headed here to Refuge Bay. Maybe that's what we were missing yesterday; these mooring balls are for all the various yacht club and marina members. Guess we'll know by tomorrow for sure!

After checking the weather again late last night, we decided that leaving Pittwater for Lake Macquarie was probably not a good idea, given the unpredictability of the closing weather window. With that, we enjoyed a sleep in without any rowers shouting or cockatoos screeching to wake us up at some ridiculous hour of the morning. Once we surfaced, we moved to Refuge Bay in order to be protected from the approaching strong northeasterly winds.

There were a few things, though, that struck us immediately about this bay. Firstly, there are only four public mooring balls, but the bay is filled with approximately 200 "club" mooring balls when there isn't a club in sight, there's no road to get to a club, if one existed and, with the exception of only three other boats in the anchorage, the mooring balls are vacant, making it a little difficult to comprehend why good anchoring space for transients has been eliminated. We're not sure what we're missing, but it feels more like a floating "ghost town" which we found all rather bizarre.

Secondly, it's been a long time since we've been in an anchorage that is so quiet we can hear the silence and found ourselves whispering to each other. Not even birds, especially the cockatoos that made such a racket while we were in Roseville Chase. It is definitely going to take us a while to readjust to the serenity of our sailing life again after the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Not having a very good cell phone or data signal is most certainly adding to the withdrawal symptoms.

Thirdly, while we'd hoped to crack out the paddleboards, we spotted the most enormous jellyfish we've ever seen, so bang went that idea! Instead, Elaine started writing our next website article and Roy busied himself by cleaning the heat exchanger of the starboard engine.

With news that our revised visas had been approved, dinner and a movie wrapped up the day.

After a rather rolly night, which thankfully settled down in the early hours of the morning, it was the wake of the first ferry that spurred us on to get up and leave. As we sailied out of Port Jackson through the Heads, it was hard to believe that two short months ago we had sailed in, not knowing about the great adventure that awaited us or the events that certainly changed our world with regard to Elaine's health. The good news is that, while she arrived in Sydney having endured almost a year of pain and struggling to walk, she left pain-free.

By noon we were motoring into Broken Bay which gives access to four major waterways; Brisbane Water to the north, Pittwater to the south, Cowan Creek and the Hawkesbury River to the west. By lunch time we had chosen our spot; a courtesy mooring in Coasters Retreat, Pittwater. After yesterday it was a delight to be back in a calm, peaceful anchorage surrounded by a national park.

Pittwater was named by Governor Phillip in 1788 after the British Prime Minister, William Pitt, the elder. It is a 5 mile long inlet with the Ku-ring-gai National Park on the western shore and Sydney's northern beach suburbs on the eastern shore, including Palm Beach, Avalon Beach and Mona Vale, all of which we explored by car, complements of Angie.

Guess we're looking at life from both sides now!

Today was a day of getting everything aligned before we were able to leave the calm and tranquil anchorage of Roseville Chase,  which has been our home for the past two months, in order to start our journey northwards along the New South Wales coast. It became an exercise in trying to align the planets; winds out of the south, but not too strong, reasonable sea state, a high tide occurring during the day to allow us to cross the bar at the exit to our anchorage, have a bridge opening that coincides with our departure, enough water to get over The Spit and an anchorage in the outer harbour that will provide protection from the southerly winds for an overnight stopover, all of which has eluded us for the past week or more,  mainly because of cyclone Gita.

So, at 1220 we exited the anchorage on the high tide. Then, after tying up to one of the courtesy mooring balls for about 20 minutes,  we left Middle Harbour via the 1315 opening of the Spit Bridge. Fortunately there was still depth to cross over The Spit, but when we finally chose our anchorage for the night,  we were hailed by an Australian Warship telling us they were in the middle of military maneuvers and that we were to avoid anchoring near them. That was a good enough reason for us to change our plan and head to Watsons Bay instead, where we're currently spending the night. 3 out of 4 ain't bad!

Unfortunately all of this took place after a very blustery night that has continued unabated all day.  Add the wakes from all the ferries and we've been rockin' and rollin' all afternoon and evening with no end in sight. Hopefully it'll all calm down soon, so we can at least have a good night's sleep. We do, however,  have a fabulous view of the city tonight and we've had an absolutely wonderful stay in Sydney.

Our thanks to our friends, old and new, for making our visit to Sydney a truly memorable one. A special thank you to Angie for being our tour guide,  chauffeur,  mail service,  delivery service and general all purpose helper. You made life so much easier for us and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with you,  your mum, the "boys" and your great group of friends.

Our thoughts are also with friends in New Zealand tonight, as cyclone Gita slams into the country, causing a state of emergency in various parts, after leaving a trail of destruction in Tonga and Fiji.

Today we also witnessed a remarkable event from the water as we crossed The Spit; a car being hoisted by a huge crane from the bottom of a cliff back onto the road above. We were convinced that there was no way anyone could have survived that crash,  but we later learnt that the driver, a well known Australian sailor, actually had.

Video calling Brooke and the grandchildren in Arizona,  as well as catching up with Justine in England, ended a very windy, rainy and eventful day.

Although we've had a number of surreal experiences since starting our sailing adventure, today was probably the one that tops the list, but the story started about 45 years ago, when Roy first met the Barends family. During the years that followed he also met his friend, Rodney, who subsequently married the eldest daughter, Susan, and together they had a little girl called Bronwyn.

Then 37 years ago, almost to the day, we had our very first date and it was during the late afternoon of that day when Roy introduced Elaine to the various members of the Barends family, the encounter of which remains firmly imprinted in her memory. From walking up the concrete pathway to meet everyone sitting on the front steps of their home, to Ol' Man Barends' first words to her: " So, you're the young lady who has stolen Roy's heart", to the beautiful toddler, Bronwyn, running around the garden. Sadly it was also the day of Rodney's funeral, who had been killed the week prior, in a tragic mining accident.

Today we were reunited with that toddler, now a beautiful woman with a family of her own, living not too far from where Paw Paw is currently anchored and whom her father would be very proud of. Understandable, it was a very emotional reunion for everyone and wonderful to see her again, as well as to catch up with all the news of the family. Thanks to Terence for making the arrangements. Another very special day in Sydney!

Yesterday started off very busy, when we decided Paw Paw's cockpit and aft deck area was in desperate need of a wash, after all the pollution that had landed on her during the strong winds. It was also a good idea to get her somewhat presentable, since Angie joined us onboard for a lunchtime barbecue. The afternoon flew by and before we knew it,  it was time to say our farewells,  realising that we'd spent so many years communicating about our sail to Sydney, but the time had arrived when we were getting ready to leave. While goodbyes are never easy, this time, fortunately, it was more a case of "au revoir", "goodbye until we meet again", as we'll still be in Australia for some time to come.

Yesterday was another early start to head to the specialist in Drummoyne, where we picked up the last of the documentation required for the revised visas. Although we lingered over a morning coffee at another one of our favourite cafés, Bowan Island Bakery, we decided to head straight back to Chatswood rather than stop in downtown Sydney for lunch. That afforded us the time to get the visa applications posted at last, as well as for Elaine to swap / return some of her supplements, given that she's spent the past few days researching everything in greater detail and had a better idea of what she actually needed to help mitigate the side effects as well as boast her overall health.

Next task was finding a suitable phone app that is now managing all the tablets, varying doses, different intervals, repeat perscriptions and follow-up appointments, but a good "old fashioned" weekly "pill box" has helped resolve the storage and daily consumption matter. She has definitely turned into her parents!

On a lighter note, as our time in Sydney draws to a close, there are so many great memories and experiences that we will be taking with us and today was no exception. In particular, we haven't had the pleasure since leaving Bonaire to enjoy such a wide variety of food from different countries in one place. Besides Australian cuisine, we've had Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Philippino, Turkish, South African, Moroccan, Portuguese, French and today, German, as we headed back to The Rocks to enjoy the Chinese New Year celebrations and a delicious lunch at Munich Brauhaus. We had originally thought we'd just have a morning coffee followed by a movie in Chatswood, but the alternative was much more fun. Happy Chinese New Year!

Of course the day started on the best note possible when we received photographs from Brooke of the twins reading a book together. Just the cutest, but it's a real problem that we have absolutely no idea who's who! They are just so alike now! A chat to Keenan wrapped up another great day!

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