After a lazy morning, Roy started the task of fitting our new dinghy wheels, but by mid-morning, we had to head to the nearest beach so he could finish the installation and Flat Rock Beach turned out to be the ideal spot. Not only did he finish fitting the wheels, but we met a South African family who have lived in Sydney for the past 25 years and who were very helpful with information about the area, even giving us their phone number just in case we needed help with anything.
By the time we got back to Paw Paw it was still early enough to facetime the family in Arizona and see the grandchildren before their bedtime; always a highlight of our day.
By early evening though, it was time to dinghy ashore again. This time to Echo Point Park, where we beached the dinghy and climbed the steps to the road to await our ride. It wasn't just any ride however. Terence and Kat were collecting us in order to join them for a drink at their local. Given that we haven't seen Terence since leaving South Africa in 1994, it was a special and completely unbelievable reunion.
Terence and Roy grew up together and have remained friends all these years. It's hard to explain how we feel tonight back on Paw Paw, but surreal doesn't even begin to describe it. It is another one of those moments that, if anyone had told us the next time we would see Terence, would be after sailing to Australia and hiring a swing mooring just minutes from where him and Kat live, we would never have believed them. It was wonderful to catch up and get the news on a host of other friends we'd lost contact with over the years. A very special evening indeed!
Today was another very frustrating and difficult day trying to settle in to our new "home". After spending an entire day in Birkenhead Point trying to find the basic amenities we need, we had to repeat the exercise again today, but this time for the Cammeray area. A 3NM dinghy ride from our swing mooring in Roseville Chsse took us to Cammeray Marina, where we can at least leave the dinghy and get ashore, as well as use their laundry facilities and jerry can water. A flight of 108 steps got us to street level from where we "hiked" another 1.5 miles straight uphill in the heat to get to the Neutral Bay shopping district, where we found grocery stores, banks, chemists, etc. In the best of health though, this would be a difficult "walk", but it nearly killed Elaine off. So, Plan B. Over a cup of coffee, while trying to recuperate , we investigated the public transportation system more thoroughly, including services like Uber. Fortunately our return trip was far better. After procuring local bus cards, the bus dropped us off just a few minutes walk from the entrance to the marina. Seeing the bus decorated for Christmas definitely helped cheer us up too.On route back to Paw Paw in the dinghy we stopped at the Davidson Recreational Park, where we can enjoy a few nature walks, as well as drop off our garbage and get water, if need be. Diesel and, especially petrol for the dinghy, given the miles we'll be doing, were the last of the amenities to hunt down. Those we discovered, can be obtained at the Roseville Bridge Marina just opposite us, where we also found a small beach. Once Roy installs the new dinghy wheels, we will be able to leave the dinghy there for a short period of time. Our explorations also revealed a lovely restaurant and a very helpful employee, the Echo by the Marina, where we can enjoy breakfast, lunch and morning coffee, if we choose. By the time we returned to Paw Paw exhausted, all we wanted was a stiff drink. Never in our wildest dreams would we have guessed that Sydney, as a sailing destination, would be this unprepared and difficult for cruisers and we thought Spanish Waters in Curacao or Opua in New Zealand was bad. It's fair to say, we've reached a new low. Our day was not a total loss though as we introduced ourselves to our very pleasant neighbour, enjoyed a barbecue onboard and had the opportunity to phone friends, Angie and Terence, whom we haven't seen since leaving South Africa. Very surreal after all these years. We're definitely looking forward to a few outings with each of them soon.
After a relatively uneventful motor-sail last night, we entered Port Jackson at around 0630 this morning. There aren't too many iconic cities in the world, but sailing Paw Paw into one of them, two years into our circumnavigation, was beyond words and brought home the magnitude of our achievement. HELLO Sydney!Too tired to try and shoehorn into one of the other so called "anchorages" en route through the port, we opted for Farm Cove overlooking the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Unfortunately, it is an extremely uncomfortable anchorage due to the churn created by all the ferries, but it is, nonetheless, very scenic and centrally located, so, we plan on staying for tonight, at least. Once we were settled and had a nap, we had a rather precarious dinghy ride to the closet pier. Then, having successfully negotiated our disembarkation without falling in the water, it was time to celebrate our arrival in Sydney and the Opera Bar was the perfect venue. A walk around Circular Quay and the Royal Botanical Gardens afterwards helped stretch our legs and clear the cobwebs. On our return to Paw Paw, we had hoped to reconnect with Raya (Ros and Rick), whom we haven't seen since Fiji, as we thought we had seen them from a distant arriving in the anchorage, but they were nowhere to be found this evening. Hopefully we can catch up with them once we've completed our explorations tomorrow in the hunt for a more suitable anchorage or, even better, maybe they've found one and we can just head their way! We have also been invited over to Allure for after-dinner coffee tonight, but, unfortunately, we're both fading fast, so we'll have to take a rain-check.