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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.

This morning, we were up relatively early to head ashore for Elaine's pathology appointment and to do some provisioning. Once we were back on Paw Paw we weighed anchor and headed to the fuel dock at the Birkenhead Point Marina to fill up with diesel and water. Although Roy had the unfortunate experience of an extremely rude individual putting the phone down on him when he called the marina earlier to cofirm that we could indeed obtain water, if we purchased diesel and neither of us really wanting to give the marina our money after the incident, it was still the most convenient dock to approach. Of course, when this same individual decided to be rude to Elaine while we were on the dock, he received far more than he bargained for. Afterwards, while Elaine simply continued with what she was doing, Roy said the individual was so astonished that someone had dared to retaliate, he was completely speechless and just stood on the dock staring.

With that, we motored the 12NM from Birkenhead Point, Drummoyne, in Sydney Harbour to Killarney Point in Middle Harbour, fortunately making the opening of the Spit Bridge with 15 minutes to spare. It was complete chaos as we passed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge en route with traffic going in every direction and no one really obeying any "rules of the road". In all the mayhem, we spotted Raya (Ros and Rick) heading in the opposite direction to us, slip-streaming a huge cargo ship which was motoring diagonally across everyone.

We are now on a swing mooring out in the "burbs" of Killarney Heights and Castle Cove, boarding on the Garigal National Park, amongst our millionaire neighbours. At least we no longer have to worry about Paw Paw getting another Notice of Removal "pink sticker" for some or other arbitrary transgression and, if we happen to need a taxi into the Sydney Opera House, there's one that passes right past our "front door". A note to other cruiser, however, who may be reading this article - Do not come to Sydney unless you have a swing mooring or berth reserved, since there is literally nowhere decent to anchor and, if you happen to find a spot, you are not permitted to stay for more than a few days before the authorities will order you to move.

For now, we're going to enjoy the peace and quiet of our new home and everything the Garigal National Park has to offer, as well as the amenities of the Cammeray Marina, albeit that we have to dinghy about 3NM back to the marina. A small price to buy for peace of mind!

Now for some fun facts. The 5,440-acre Garigal National Park is situated in the North Shore region of Sydney, approximately 12 miles from the central business district.

The word "Garigal" is a derivation of the word "Carigal" or "Caregal", used to describe the indigenous people who lived in Guringai country, translated in modern English as "Ku-ring-gai".

The Guringai people are the traditional custodians of the land now reserved as the Garigal National Park and there is considerable evidence of past Aboriginal activity in the area, with over 100 Aboriginal sites recorded to date, including shelters, cave art, occupation sites and rock engravings. Many of the sites are undisturbed and are important surviving examples of Aboriginal occupation of the Sydney region.

Garigal National Park is home to a wide range of fauna, including snakes, birds, such as the Black Cockies, the Sulphur-Crested Cockies and the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, as well as a wide range of native mammals, such as bandicoots, koalas and wallabies and a number of threatened species, including the Southern Brown Bandicoot, the common Bent-Wing Bat, the Tiger Quoll, the Osprey and the Glossy Black Cockatoo.

The park also contains two significant places of historical interest. One is Bungaroo at the tidal limit of Middle Harbour Creek, where Governor Phillip camped for two nights in 1788 on his first expedition. Bungaroo is the only site described in the journal of this expedition which has been accurately identified. It is now possibly the only location directly connected with very early European exploration that remains in the condition seen by Phillip and his expedition.The other is the former Bantry Bay Explosives Magazine complex which was used for commercial explosives storage. It is the only example of an explosives magazine complex in New South Wales and has historical significance for its role in urban and industrial growth.

Today was packed with a host of diverse events and activities. It started with the alarm clock waking us at just before 0500 so that we could be available for the closing of escrow on our second condominium. Our thanks go out to our friend Lisa for being or Power of Attorney once again.

Once that was out of the way, it was time to divide and conquer. After a morning coffee at the Birkenhead Shopping Mall, Roy headed to the chandlery to purchase what we thought was the last of our parts and spares. Unfortunately they didn't have the new wind generator we want, so hopefully that can be procured elsewhere.

Elaine, on the otherhand, started her journey through the Australian medical system. While she was very apprehensive about her appointment this morning,  it was without reason.  She has a fabulous doctor and a battery of tests, MRIs and X-rays have been scheduled. Fortunately nothing life threatening or crippling is suspected, but it seems a treatable underlying problem is likely after all.

Lunch consisted of a rather interesting and unusual sushi meal before heading back to Paw Paw to drop off all our purchases. With the rest of the day at our disposal, we decided to return to shore and explore a little further afield.

After wondering through King George's Park and a beautiful residential area of period homes, we stumbled upon Darling Street and the suburb of Rozelle. While window shopping in the quaint and rather trending shops lining the street, we encountered the delightful owner of the Persian Rug Bazaar. When we informed him that, although we weren't in the market to purchase a rug and that neither of us knew much about Persian rugs, but would love the opportunity to browse around, he was more than willing to educate us on these handmade marvels. It was an absolutely fascinating "tour", where we learnt about the entire process, including how to discern their value, where some have recently been sold at auction for millions of dollars. Sadly, however, like many ancient crafts we have had the pleasure of encountering during our travels, it too is dying with the existing generation of craftsmen.

Finally, given our new "footloose and fancy free" status after unloading the last of our properties, we found a pleasant venue to celebrate the sale and entered into a rather philosophical conversation about where we might live once we decide to "swallow the hook". Given the fact that we have one too many options and would want to consider our immediate family members, especially the grandchildren, we decided to leave it in Gods hands, safe in the knowledge that it will all work out as it is intended to.

Tonight, a dinner on board of bangers and mash, accompanied by some bubbly, was a fitting end to a very eventful day.

Although we had dragged yesterday, all was well through the night in fairly strong winds gusting to 26 Kts, but with stronger winds forecasted for today, we decided to stay on board anyway. While the stronger winds didn't actually materialise in this part of the harbour, we nonetheless had the opportunity to catch up on a few back-burner tasks like paperwork that has been put off since leaving New Zealand.

Roy also prepared our final shopping list of yacht parts and spares in order to place our order at the chandlery tomorrow. The disappointing discovery through this exercise is that, although we are a "yacht in transit", we are not GST exempt, unlike the majority of other countries we have visited. He also finalised the location of where to mount our watermaker sanitiser and boost pump, as well as hauling out all our spare sheets and halyards to replace the old ones and determine what additional ones need to be purchased.

Elaine busied herself obtaining various medical results from tests she had undertaken in the US recently in preparation for her long awaited doctor's appointment. She also perused all the information we had collected at Circular Quay the day we arrived regarding the various tourist attractions to be enjoyed around Sydney and the surrounding area. We now have a laundry list of fun activities to be pursued over the coming weeks.

Finally, since we have eventually managed to secure a less than ideal swing mooring in Roseville through Cammeray Marina, about 3NM from the marina itself, while we await the availability of a stern / bow mooring at the marina, in lieu of the mix up with our original reservation, we decided we better research the public transportation system that will get us to / from the city centre, while using the dinghy to get us to / from the marina in the interim. Although this is a compromise for now, it is better than nothing, given the precarious anchoring situation and associated lack of amenities for cruisers. At least this way we'll have access to all the basic amenities that we need in one location and it will allow us to undertake some land travel to places further afield, knowing Paw Paw is secure.

Having survived one of the lumpest, not to mention precarious, anchorages we've ever been in, fortunately the churn settled down once all the ferries stopped running and, with that, we were able to enjoy a calm night. Waking up in the night and seeing the Sydney Opera House lit up against the night sky was very surreal, not to mention, a fabulous sight.

We nonetheless decided that one day in Farm Cove was more than enough, so just after daybreak we set about finding another anchoring spot west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Our explorations took us under the famous bridge and around every "anchorage" noted in the cruising guide and a few extras that weren't mentioned. Regardless, every single one, with the exception of the tiny "dedicated for small craft anchorage" of Balls Head Bay, was full of private swing moorings and, besides having limited space and full of anchored yachts, Balls Head Bay was still in the chop and churn of the ferries. Blackwattle Bay we understand is better protected, but also filled with yachts.

Our reconnaissance, however, paid off when we found what we thought would be a great spot at Birkenhead Point just off the Iron Cove Bridge. After settling in and having breakfast, we commenced what turned into the most frustrating, disappointing and incredulous day.

After sailing halfway around the world to a city like Sydney, where the waterways and marinas are jammed full of yachts, we had, at the very least, expected to find the basic amenities every cruiser needs; diesel, petrol, water, garbage disposal, laundry services, propane refills, grocery stores, a chandlery and, most importantly, somewhere safe to land the dinghy so that we can actually get ashore. An additional amenity needed on this occasion was a medical centre.

Well, after spending hours riding up and down in the dinghy, we couldn't find a single place to land it. We were even turned away from every marina and sailing club when we asked if we could use their facilities for a fee to land the dinghy. In fact, besides being able to purchase diesel and petrol, the marinas would not even provide us with water.

So, since we can't eat and drink diesel and petrol and with no way of accessing the possibility of any other services, because we couldn't actually access the shore, we were completely dumbfounded and in shock. These feeling were exasperated after speaking to a few cruisers we encountered on the swing moorings when they informed us that there is indeed nothing offered to cruisers, unless "you are in a marina or on a swing mooring belonging to a marina".

Of course, that's an impossibility as well, since they are all full with permanent yachts and do not cater to transients like ourselves. That includes the marina, where we thought we had a swing mooring reserved, only to discover that there was a mix-up with our reservation and, in fact, it was no longer available.

In desperation we decided to expand our search further down Iron Cove and the gods had decided to smile on us. We found a well maintained jetty where we could safely leave the dinghy along with communial garbage bins and water, which, at the very least, allows us to jerry can water back to Paw Paw, given that the water pollution precludes us from running our watermaker. Although the jetty is on the wrong side of the waterway, we were still able to access various amenities by walking over the Iron Cove Bridge. The Birkenhead Shopping Centre has a grocery store and medical centre. Walking a little further down Victoria Street provides a chandlery, dermatologist, dentist, etc. That left laundry and propane refill services unaccountered for, a task for another day!

So, feeling rather chuffed with ourselves we headed back to Paw Paw only to discover she had dragged; the first time ever on our Spade anchor, shortly followed by a visit from the Roads and Marine Services (aka the water police) informing us that there is a resident in one of the apartment complexes who uses a camera with a highpower lense to photograph the activities of any cruisers anchoring here and then passes on complaints of any infringements to the authorities. In our case, he was complaining that we were anchored to close to the submarine cable and we were to make sure we "didn't throw anything overboard because he's watching". Given that we had already dragged, we repositioned Paw Paw and let out more scope anyway, but no one can tell us if the law pertains to an anchor that cannot be within 200m of a submarine cable or if it refers to the position of the yacht, the latter of which will change depending on the wind direction, resulting in a possible transgression if it blows out of the north in this particular instance. A phone call to Raya (Ros and Rick) yesterday evening confirmed that they were having similar challenges. "The mind she boggles!"

We did eventually encounter one honest chap though, a manager of one of the marinas, who basically informed us that full-time cruisers are not needed nor welcomed in Sydney - Ah Duh - I think we've realised that!

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.

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