On Saturday Roy was up bright and early to install our new barbecue and make a rather unceremonious offering of our "not so old", completely rusted, falling apart Kuuma barbecue" to Neptune, following which he spent some time replacing one of the dinghy davit lines again. Then, after an afternoon on board, it was time to head off in the dinghy to Sugarloaf Bay, where we had a great evening on board Raya. It was lovely just to be able to relax and catch up with Roz and Rick for a few hours, while enjoying our sundowners and snacks.Yesterday, after a fairly lazy morning initially and Elaine baking cream scones for her afternoon outing, we had to deal with a slight collision when the boat next to us t-boned Paw Paw in the high winds that had all the yachts swirling in various directions. Fortunately there wasn't any damage and setting a stern anchor to keep us at a safe distance helped the situation temporarily. It was all resolved permanently a little while later when the owners of the other boat arrived and were able to shorten their mooring line. Then it was time for Elaine to enjoy an afternoon "tea party" in celebration of Angie's mom's 85th birthday. Elaine also had the pleasure of being "chauffeur" driven to and from the event by Angie's friend, Dani. While the pick up and drop off arrangements had a clandestine feel to it all, since Elaine and Dani had never met before and then having to meet in the carpark of Echo Point Park through Elaine's recognition of nothing but the description of the "blue Toyota" which Dani drives, it was a fun-filled afternoon with plenty of laughter. It was lovely to meet all of Angie's friends, not to mention the fact that we all rolled out of her home after all the eats and treats we enjoyed. While Elaine was out playing with the girls, Roy busied himself with continuing his work on the watermaker. Today was a rather frustrating day, though. We had prior arrangements with a courier company to collect our liferaft from the Davidson's Park boat ramp and deliver it to the Plastimo agent in Sydney for recertification. So, after breakfast and with amble time for the 0930 pick up, the process began. Drop the dinghy in the water, lower the swim platform, tie the dinghy to the swim platform, remove the liferaft from its locker, place the liferaft on the swim platform, move the liferaft from the swim platform to the dinghy without dropping it in the water, dinghy to the boat ramp, tie the dinghy to the boat ramp, lift the dinghy onto the dock, again, workout dropping it in the water, haul the liferaft across the ramp and then leave Roy with the liferaft on the dock. To put this in perspective, the liferaft is like trying to lug around a body weighing approximately 68Kg / 150Lbs. Well, 5 hours later and after numerous phone calls, there was still no sign of the courier company and we had visions of having to repeat the entire process in reverse to get the liferaft back onto Paw Paw. Thankfully, they eventually arrived late this afternoon. Lets hope this level of service is not indicative of the recertification we're actually going to get and that we get the liferaft back before our planned departure date from Sydney. In-between all this activity, Elaine has also spent the last few days catching up with family and friends around the world and sorting out our photographs of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. She definitely got behind on all these website activities, but is catching up slowly, but surely!
Besides spending a few days coming to terms with Elaine's diagnosis and considering the impacts thereof, Elaine spent most of Wednesday getting our Fiji article completed and loaded onto our website, while Roy completed a few more boat projects, including cleaning the exhaust elbow and adjusting the v-belt of the port engine.Today, however, was a day of fun. Angie collected us as scheduled at Echo Point Park, following which we made the short trip to her home to collect her mom and had the lovely surprise of seeing her son, Stephen, having last seen him as a toddler in South Africa. Angie had selected the North Head Sanctuary in Manly as our destination for the day, followed by a trip into the town of Manly to have a light lunch, enjoy the promenade, have a snoop around the Corso and take the opportunity to get some groceries. Our visit to the North Head Sanctuary commenced with a coffee and some freshly baked delights at the Bella Vista Café while enjoying the stunning views over Sydney Harbour and getting introduced to a few of the "locals", the fauna and flora, many of which are endangered and unique to this part of Sydney. The sand dunes here support one of the few remaining patches of Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrubs. Once abundant, now less than 3% remains. This area is home to the Rainbow Lonikeets, Little Wattlebirds and the Long Nose Bandicoots, the latter of which are now listed as an endangered population. North Head, traditionally known as "Car-rang-gel", held special significance for the local Aboriginal people and was used for ceremonies and medicinal practices. From 1828, most of the headland was set aside to quarantine passengers on ships arriving in the colony. More than 240 people were buried in the 3rd Quarantine Cemetery between 1881 and 1925, mostly dying from smallpox and bubonic plague. A visit to this cemetery took us on a winding trail through the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrubs, which occur on patches of nutrient poor, aeolian dune sand and include small patches of woodland and low forest, with the wind-blown sand having been deposited many centuries ago and where wild plants like the Sunshine Wattle, the Flannel Flower and the Crowea flourish. We also had the opportunity to enjoy the walk and spectacular clifftop views of the Fairfax Lookouts, before heading to St Patrick's Seminary completed in 1889, after land was granted to the Catholic Church on North Head to build a Cardinal's Palace, and, it is a palace indeed, with its beautiful sandstone walls and fabulous views overlooking Manly Beach. During WWII, the whole of North Head became a major defence base, making it one of the most heavily fortified sites in Australia and where North Fort was constructed with concrete gun emplacements, tunnels and an underground plotting room, with the associated Barracks built to house and train the army gunners. The base was subsequently relocated to Victoria in 1998. Our day was wrapped up with a barbecue at Angie's, where we had a second surprise of seeing her eldest son, David, who also demonstrated his expert skills after cooking the meat to "melt in your mouth" perfection. After loading all our deliveries in the car, including a new barbecue, a few logistical manoeuvres in the dark got us to the Davidson's Park boat ramp where everything was safely loaded into the dinghy before returning to Paw Paw late tonight. Many thanks Angie for a fascinating and unexpected day of touring an area of Sydney we would not have had the opportunity to enjoy without our personal tour guide.
After a very stormy night, with plenty of rain, thunder and lightening, we woke to a partly sunny, but another very hot, muggy day. Preparations, including having the oven on to bake Roy's birthday cake continued regardless. Fortunately, a light breeze kept the temperatures somewhat manageable.Besides catching up with Keenan, we also got a few long overdue minor boat projects out of way, like redoing our fender lines that were just too short and a new, longer bridle on the dinghy. While Roy did a number of fresh water runs, Elaine eventually completed our Fiji website article. All it needs now is a proofreading before we load it up. Better late than never, as they say! With temperatures still hovering around 30C / 86F this evening, even after a few thunderstorms this afternoon, we're enjoying yet another barbecue on board, accompanied by some cold beverages.