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After Roy dropped Elaine off at the public dock and she scrambled over the railings at spring tide to try and keep her legs and feet dry, it was time to meet Angie and her mother, who is visiting from South Africa, at the entrance to Echo Point Park. Elaine certainly picked up a few strange looks from the motorists driving by, while she stood waiting on the roadside in a very upscale area, surrounded by multimillion dollar homes.

Fortunately Angie arrived as planned and we set off on our girl's day out. We were also meeting a friend of Angie's and her daughter. Our destination, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in downtown Sydney and, in particular, to see the Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age exhibition, with masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands.

What a fabulous event and such a contrast to our island cultural experiences of the past four years and, in fact, since leaving England in 1999, where the last art museum Elaine visited was in London a few years prior to that.

Our guided tour took us through the various halls for roughly one and half hours with a very pleasant and knowledgeable guide, which definitely served the purpose of pointing out elements of the paintings that an untrained eye would completely miss. Getting the history and background of the various artists, including Rembrandt, was, not only informative, but fascinating and brought everything to life. When looking at some of Rembrandt's paintings, you felt like you could reach out and touch the fabric or the gold chain or the jewel.

All the paintings were unique though, in as much as the Dutch artists of the Golden Age were not commissioned by the church or royalty, but rather painted for the free market, making the works substantially different from other artists of the time.

We also learnt that Rembrandt painted more self portraits, spanning his lifetime, than any other artist. He was also a master at ink drawings. This was in great part due to his considerable talent as an engraver. Despite being a talented painter, the Rembrandt drawings show he also gave great importance to mastering the art of drawing. His production of drawings was as prolific as it was brilliant. About 1,400 attributed to him survive, and probably at least an equal number have been lost. 

Rembrandt was apparently interested in drawing from a young age, so much so that he continued even though his family paid to send him to Leyde University. In the 1620s, after having completed his schooling, he opened his first art studio / workshop along with Jan Lievers. Later on, due to his sucess and fame, he decided to move to Amsterdam in 1629. Financially secure, he bought a house in a rich neighbourhood of Amsterdam. Tragically though, despite his comfortable financial circumstance in his younger years, he sank into debt throughout the rest of his life, ending by having to sell his house and dying an impoverished man in 1669.

Once our tour concluded we made our way to the museum's café to enjoy a light lunch, followed by a coffee and cream scones. The perfect indulgence to end a perfect day!

Roy, on the otherhand, decided to spend his day on board enjoying some peace and quiet, although invited to be the rose amongst the thorns. He was rather productive in cleaning the exhaust elbow and adjusting the v-belt of the starboard engine, as well as assisting a fellow sailor unsnag his anchor from the rocks versus having to cut it loose. For his act of kindness, the sailor went all the way to the Sydney Fish Market, a round-trip of approximately 20NM and returned with some fresh tuna as a gift for Roy. Staggering!

Today, it was back to reality and having to get some chores done. We had originally planned on only dinghying to Cammeray Marina to do the laundry and while that was washing and drying, to then take a short walk to Green Park Village for a coffee. When we got there though, the little café was closed, so a short walk turned into a slightly longer one to Neutral Bay. After enjoying a coffee, we decided we may as well do some provisioning and then stopped for dinghy fuel en route back to Paw Paw, after which Roy did a garbage and water run.

We manage to squeeze in a little fun though and dinghied to Bantry Bay,  the site of the heritage listed explosives magazine. After an explosion in the city in 1882, authorities were obliged to seek a more remote storage. This was found in the form of two hulks, the Pride of England and the Behring, moored in Powder Hulk Bay to store 530 tons of explosives and detonators.  A third vessel,  the Alacrity, was used for the crew guarding the explosives.  A permanent site in Bantry Bay was later established and shapely wooden ammunition barges were then used to tow ammunition between Newington and the munitions depot in Bantry Bay,  then from there to Rozelle for transhipment. When operations ceased in 1974, Bantry Bay was handed over to National Parks and Wildlife, following which it became a heritage site.

Unfortunately the site is closed to visitors which was a real shame. We were surprised, however, to find a very scenic bay with little coves tucked away along the shoreline,  as well as a nice beach at the head of the bay. A public dock leads to a number of hiking trails, which we decided was best left for another day!

With family and friends spread across the globe and over so many different timezones, it took us 18 hours to ring in 2018.

It started with thoughts of all our cruising friends still in the South Pacific, particularly Fiji and New Zealand. Then it was our turn in Australia. From there our thoughts crossed the Indian Ocean to family living in Dubai and onto family and friends in South Africa, Austria, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Next was the Atlantic Ocean crossing and onto all our cruising friends in the Caribbean and friends on the east coast of America. We got to speak to Keenan just after he landed in Miami after completing his shift and just before "his" midnight. Finally a phone call to Brooke and the grandchildren in Arizona before everyone we know in Arizona and the west coast of America commenced their celebrations. It was Keenan's question, while chatting to Roy: "What's it like in the future dad", that succinctly summed it up!

The answer, of course, is anyone's guess, but from where we're sitting, after a lazy day aboard Paw Paw, having made it through the 0830 Spit Bridge opening this morning and back to our swing mooring in the beautiful Roseville Chase anchorage, it looks bright!

We hope you enjoy the two part video of our New Year's adventure which we loaded up to the website this evening. Part one is our sail from Southport to Sydney, in the company of dolphins and whales, as well as the build up to the "Greatest Show", with Part Two the complete fireworks display, unedited, just as we saw it floating in Sydney Harbour. Once you've seen it, we're sure you'll agree, it was indeed spectacular!

Enjoy 2018 everyone and to all our followers in over 80 countries, as far afield as, Albania, Algeria, Ukraine, Russia, Canada, China, America, New Zealand, Maldives, Norway, Poland, France, Philippines, Romania, Hungary, Korea, Thailand, Netherlands, Italy, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Brazil, Iran, Belarus, Denmark, Germany, Austria, UK, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Portugal, Singapore, Lithuania, Croatia, Belgium, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Japan, Chile, Panama, Pakistan, Burundi, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, India, Korea, Latvia, Servia, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Argentina, Australia, Ghana, Moldovia, Hong Kong, Fiji, Finland, Indonesia, Mexico, Cambodia, Spain, Sint Maarten, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Sweden, Morocco, Bangladesh, Bahamas, Armenia, Colombia, Barbados, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Israel, St Lucia, Mongolia, Switzerland, Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Peru, Kazakhstan and Greece, we hope you continue to enjoy our journey with us!

Happy New Year from Sydney and what a fabulous day and New Year's Eve celebrations we've had. Beyond our wildest dreams and one we shared with an estimated 1.5 million people who lined the shores and lookout points around the harbour, a figure which excluded the thousands of people on yachts of every shape and size floating on the water with us.

The anchorage started to fill up by mid-morning, but, as they say: "there's always room for one more" as the late arrivals squeezed in. Although the anchorage was chaotic and we had to deal with three powerboats, in particular, who truly did not have a clue of what they were doing, which subsequently endangered and caused collisions with yachts anchored near us, a friendly and cordial atmosphere, nonetheless, prevailed throughout.

Our day started with phone calls to the family in Ireland and Arizona, then dressing Paw Paw for the event, followed by Ros and Rick off Raya stopping by for a morning coffee. It was lovely to actually spend time with them, since last seeing them in Fiji, and not just having to wave from a distance as we crossed paths in various parts of the Sydney Harbour this past month. Next was a visit from Ian and Andrea off Zoom and it was lovely to catch up and swap sailing stories since last seeing Ian in Tahiti.

By then it was time for Roy to fetch Terence for his transfer to Paw Paw, along with the various South African treats he brought with him, including biltong. With that the festivities started. Besides the entertainment value of watching other yachts anchor and getting very cosy with a number of them, other events were laid on at various stages of the precedings. First, we enjoyed two separate aerobatic shows, then there was an organised parade of all sorts of yachts decorated in festive lights pass by us. By 2100 the boerewors was barbecued and the boerie rolls were going down well to the sights of the early fireworks display for the children. It was a wonderful sampler of what was to come.

Before we knew it, we were joining the entire anchorage in the count down to 2018 and witnessing an event that was simply spectacular. As fireworks shot off the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, six barges lining the channel which leads up to the bridge on either side, also had perfectly synchronised displays. The entire setting, atmosphere and having Terence onboard with us was, not only surreal, but truly an experience of a lifetime; one that was worth every inch we have sailed to get here; a New Year's Eve celebration that will be difficult to surpass, ever!

To all our family and friends around the world, you were all with us in our thoughts on this wonderful occasion. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2018 and, God willing, we'll still get to see a few more of you in parts of the world we have yet to visit, as we continue on this incredible adventure.

Watch this space for the upcoming video on the website.
As soon as the alarm went off this morning, it was time to come off our swing mooring in Roseville Chase and head to the Spit Bridge in order to coincide with the 0830 opening. Although it was a rainy start to the day, by 1000 we were anchored off Bradley's Head with the perfect view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge; the perfect spot from which to enjoy our New Year's Eve celebrations and watch the fireworks display tomorrow night. Fortunately the sun came out by midday and we have been basking in glorious sunshine since.

It was also wonderful to see Raya (Ros and Rick) anchored off our starboard side, along with a myriad of other yachts we've seen at various destinations during our 2017 sailing season; Moonshadow, Alexandra, Wind of Change, Maja, to name a few. Plastic Plankton, we understand, are arriving tomorrow, so plenty of company with whom we will be ringing in the new year.

That said though, the surprise of the day was recognising Zoom, a World ARC yacht that we haven't seen since Tahiti in 2016, sail into the anchorage. What are the chances. Needless to say, Ian wasted no time at all in contacting us to make arrangements for a reunion. What a wonderful start to our celebrations.

It has been a very lumpy and rolly day though, with the wakes created by all the powerboats and ferries and it never ceases to astonish us just how inconsiderate some boating people can be towards their fellow cruisers. Of course, there are also the usual numpties who arrive late and think it's acceptable to anchor on top of everyone else. We understand it's going to get a whole lot worse tomorrow when many of the local boats start to arrive, so a large dose of tolerance and politeness will hopefully serve us well. After all, we're all out to enjoy an experience of a lifetime!

Yesterday was an exceptionally early start for us; 0200 to be precise. Seeing the delight on William's little face though, while he showed off his new "Jeep" to the beat of the music playing on the little car's radio and watching the twins entertain themselves, more with the wrapping paper than the actual gifts, was worth the early rise. After enjoying about an hour of Christmas fun with the family, we were at least still able to get a few hours sleep before the birds woke us. But, since we had planned for another lazy day onboard anyway, this wasn't exactly a major interruption in our lives.

After a breakfast of freshly baked scones, complements of Elaine, Roy set about changing the oil and oil filter on the starboard engine, while Elaine continued her efforts on our Fiji article. By then, it was time to get ready to meet Terence, Cath and their friend, Sally. After drinks at their local, the Willoughby, we commenced our Asian gastronomic adventure; a delicious Chinese dinner at the Shanghi Stories restaurant in Chatswood. Given that this was a favourite eating spot for our friends, we decided to go with their recommendations; a scrumptious selection of dumplings with the odd beef dish selected by Roy. Unfortunately we completely forgot, again, to take a photograph of all of us together.

Today, given what we saw of the area last night, we decided to venture back to Chatswood on our own and at the same time found a far more convenient bus service to a greater selection of shops, restaurants, cafés, etc, including the Westfield Mall, instead of having to dinghy the 3NM to Cammeray Marina. We also happened to stumble upon one of the main rail service junctions. Guess what we're going to try next!

After snooping around the mall, we also stumbled upon a little kiosk serving French crepes, made by a lady from Toulouse, which, no doubt, is definitely going to become a favourite venue. Our Asian gastronomic adventure continued as well. This time it was a rather interesting and tasty lunch at the Soban and Towon Korean restaurant. Our treat, however, after a four year hiatus, was movies at one of the Hoyt Lux theatres to see "The Greatest Showman" with Hugh Jackman. Whether it was the fact that it had been so long since we last saw a movie in a theatre or the fabulous movie itself or the very luxurious reclining seats we enjoyed, it was, nonetheless, a fantastic show. In fact, as soon as we got back to Paw Paw this evening, we downloaded the soundtrack. Another fun day out in the suburbs of Sydney!

After yesterday's excursion we were very interested to see how Elaine faired this morning, given the distance we walked, the hills we climbed and the speed at which Elaine was able to walk. We are very happy to report, to the amazement of both of us, that her initial treatment is definitely working!

Rather than tempt fate though, we decided to enjoy a day on board nonetheless. While Elaine eventually had the concentration levels to continue writing our Fiji article and actually enjoy the experience, Roy continued with some more boat projects, including completing the engine oil change and oil filter change on the port engine, mounting a new boost pump and UV sanitiser for the watermaker, cleaning the holding tank level sensor on the portside and replacing the o-ring on the starboard holding tank throughhull. Unfortunately a check of the repairs to our portside water heater uncovered yet another leak, which now means we have to incur the cost of replacing it, not to mention, the logistics of getting a 110V system from the USA.

On a brighter note, Santa eventually arrived this evening at the Cadman / Kelley household in Flagstaff after a slight delay, given that Keenan was working and festivities were postponed so that he could participate. It does, however, mean a very early start for us, given the time difference, in order to coincide our facetime call with the opening of the presents tomorrow morning and to enjoy the inevitable mayhem with the family, albeit from a distance! Thank goodness for modern technology!

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