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.