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We spent yesterday on board getting through a number of different tasks, from cleaning activities like polishing Paw Paw's stainless steel and removing mysterious marks from the helm seat to jury rigging the starboard saildrive to prevent it from sucking in droplets of saltwater, as well as fixing one of the dinghy oars which just disintegrated at the joint of the shaft to the paddle. Roy also enjoyed another exercise walk to refill one more propane bottle.

Elaine busied herself with various phone calls, finalising the remaining paperwork for our revised visas and doing some sewing.

Today it was back to Chatswood to get the last of the visa documentation notarised, to sort out Elaine's prescriptions and purchase a few more naturapathic supplements to help mitigate the various side effects of her medications. Oh the joys of modem medicine! We also enjoyed another morning coffee at Pattinsons Patisserie before heading home.

However, it has been the weather that has kept our attention over the past few days as tropical cyclone, Gita, destroys parts of Tonga and Fiji and is currently heading for New Caledonia, following which it is forecast to hit New Zealand early next week. Then tonight Sydney went red for Valentine's Day as gale force winds slammed the area, with speeds of 35-45 Kts, gusting 50 Kts. Fortunately we are nicely tucked away and definitely more protected, but we had barely finished our Valentine's dinner when the storm hit. Not quite the Valentine's Day gift we wanted.

Nonetheless, happy Valentine's Day to everybody. Hope yours is a little less blustery!

Friday was a big day for us, given that Elaine had her first consultation with the specialist and, under the circumstances, we had the most positive outcome we could have had, albeit a mixed bag. The good news is that Elaine is comfortable with the doctor,  his thinking is in line with hers and we can continue with our cruising plans for the foreseeable future. He did say, though, that Elaine was the most unusual patient that he's had, given that our "home" is on a yacht,  but, most importantly, he is willing to work with the logistics involved for her follow-up care. Life goes on!

Saturday morning began with a bus ride into Chatswood to get some printing done at the library, following which we met Terence for a coffee and some baked delights at Pattinsons Patisserie. That evening we had a lovely surprise visit when our "ex-floating" neighbours on the large wooden boat popped over to Bantry Bay to see us. A fun night ensued which went on far longer than everyone had planned,  but it was, nonetheless, very thoughtful of them to make the effort to come over and say goodbye before we leave Sydney.

On Sunday morning we were up early to move Paw Paw while we still had the high tide to access the anchorage in Roseville Chase. The strong southerly winds arrived soon thereafter, so we were pleased to be tucked away nicely. It also allowed Elaine to head ashore, leaving Roy on anchor watch, while she enjoyed a ladies luncheon at the Polish Club with Angie, her mom and a friend of Angie's. The journey to the southwestern side of Sydney was definitely worth the effort as we all shared a number of unusual,  but very tasty traditional Polish dishes.

Today, after Roy took an early morning exercise walk to get one of our propane tanks filled,  Elaine enjoyed a sleep in,  following which we decided to take a bus ride in a direction we had not gone before.  This time through Forestville and Allambie Heights to the Westfield Warringah Mall. It was a fun day out as well as a rather productive one in that we, not only enjoyed a delicious lobster lunch, but Roy found a suitable collection of new shoes / sandals and we were able to replace all our "glassware" and "crockery" on Paw Paw.

In between all of this gallivanting we also found the time to catch up with family and friends around the world, which is always a little challenging, given all the timezones we have to consider.

We're now into the final countdown to our departure northward along the New South Wales coast, a tad delayed by a follow-up specialist appointment later this week and tropical cyclone, Gita.

An early morning phone call from keenan woke Elaine out of a lovely deep sleep, when, in fact, he actually needed to speak to Roy. So much for the only morning this week to have a sleep in. With that we decided to get up and get on with the day's planned activities; Dinghy to The Spit to get both dive tanks filled then to Cammeray Marina to do the laundry, before returning to Paw Paw ahead of the strong winds we've experienced this afternoon.

We did, however, gleam a nugget of local knowledge that probably would have been more beneficial when we first arrived in Sydney. In chatting to one of the chaps who works at Cammeray Marina, we discovered that as recent as September last year a couple of bull sharks were seen lazily swimming around the rocks near Castle Rock in Middle Harbour, scaring a number of bathers, who just left the water in time to escape the notoriety of being the first victim of the season. Also, the six most recent fatal shark attacks in Sydney Harbour took place in Middle Harbour; Two in Bantry Bay where we are currently moored and where our floating neighbours swim every evening and one at Roseville Bridge where Roy dived Paw Paw's bottom to clean it and where we both enjoyed a delightful swim on one of the hottest days in Sydney since 1939, when temperatures soared to 47.3C. Further research revealed that Sydney Harbour is ranked third in the nation as a hotspot for the total number of shark attacks. Uummm, we probably should have investigated all of this before we took to the water.

On another topic entirely, a review of the forecasted weather for the next week indicates numerous cyclonic systems currently in the South West Pacific which will most likely delay our departure to Pittwater and Lake Macquarie early next week. Guess, we'll just have to enjoy some more sightseeing!

Yesterday, after taking a bus to downtown Sydney and a short walk, we enjoyed the last of our sightseeing outings in Sydney, the Australian Maritime Museum, following which we returned to Maduza Greek Meze for a light lunch, having had a morning coffee there earlier.

On our train ride home we stopped in at Chatswood for a few bits and bobs, then, once back on Paw Paw, commenced the planning and preparation for the last of the activities required prior to our departure from Sydney, which included a "big shop" today to get all our provisioning that restocked the "ship's stores".

It was a very long day yesterday after waking up at 0330 to speak to Keenan, who was assisting us with some of our original documents which were in our safety deposit box in Arizona, but are required for our revised visa applications. Of course, nothing is ever simple and we learnt that AZ law prevents anyone getting copies of original documents certified or notarised, which left us with no other option, but to get the originals Fedex'd to us in order to have them copied and certified here. It never ceases to amaze us how the simplest things turn into a cluster. Like expecting a telephone to be present in a conference room to allow us to call and assist our legal representative during the closing of escrow on our properties or being able to do a wire transfer in order to obtain the proceeds from the sale of our properties, which we then discovered is fraught with fraud and, therefore, had to use a different process. The examples are endless and only serve the purpose of creating unnecessary irritations.

Fortunately, our experience at the museum was far more rewarding and enlightening. While we learnt a number of interesting historical facts, we also received a much better insight into the Aboriginal culture, particularly of the clans or tribes who inhabit the northeastern tropical monsoon region of the Northern Territory called Arnhem Land, so named in 1803 by Matthew Flinders, after the Dutch ship, Arnhem, which carried explorers around the coast in 1623, but is referred to as Gapu-Monuk Saltwater Country by the indigenous people.

The Jolnu, one such clan, have the oldest culture on earth going back more than 60,000 years and they maintain their land and sea "estates" under a complex kinship system which governs all aspects of Yolnu life, including responsibilities for ceremony and marriage.

Aboriginal Sacred Art and Designs in traditional bark paintings, as well as in songs, rituals and storytelling are used to pass kinship relations and hereditary estates from one generation to another.

"Yolnu Matha" translated "People Language" is the main language spoken and is the general term for more than 100 languages and dialects spoken by the clans of East Arnhem Land. The language is written using special characters to symbolise certain sounds.

Arnhem Land comprises a number of areas, of which Lutumba, Yathikpa and Bayapula are a few, each with their own significance in the Aboriginal culture.

Lutumba is a restricted area, but is a powerful place for the Djapu clan, with flooding rivers and huge tides. The waters are protected by the spirit and energy of "Mana", the ancestral Shark. It is the traditional place for funeral ceremonies to ensure the souls of the dead return to their ancestral past.

Yathikpa is the first place where the Yolnu received fire. It is also the place of the ancestral Crocodile, Banu, located on the sacred site called Garranali, where Banu started the first fire and burnt the country next to the sea. He then took the fire down the coast and entered the saltwater with it.

Bayapula is where the Gumati clan have several homeland areas, including the coastal outstation on Caledon Bay, called Biranybirany. The bay has an abundance of stingrays, dugongs and turtles.

We also learnt that the first Englishman to set foot in Australia, a century before English settlement and years before Captain James Cook, was the colourful buccaneer, privateer, navigator and map-maker, William Dampier, who reached New Holland (Australia) in 1688. Among the many artefacts, we also got to see the waterproof camera housing and box that was used to film the live shark footage in the movie, Jaws.

Visiting the museum was something Roy wanted to do and was definitely a worthwhile outing.

Yesterday we woke up to more rain, so Roy took advantage of all the fresh water and washed the deck as well as give both engines a freshwater rinse, while Elaine collected rainwater to wash the cockpit and helm station areas today. Before that could be done, though, all our fenders and stem anchor rode had to be stowed again, now that we don't have any boats bumping into us.

We both nearly got a good soaking of a different kind, however, after we were almost tipped out of our dinghy yesterday by a number of powerboaters, the majority of whom are completely clueless and have total disregard for anyone on the water but themselves. This is not the first time this has occurred and we've spent many a day watching the same thing happen to various canoeists and rowers alike.

Nonetheless, Elaine enjoyed a fabulous afternoon and an absolutely delicious meal celebrating Angie's birthday with her, her mom and a lovely group of friends at the Ofous Moroccan restaurant at The Spit, while Roy enjoyed drinks with Terence at the North Club in Crows Nest, after which we both enjoyed a late afternoon coffee at Chiosco by Ormeggio before heading back to Paw Paw.

Today, after our cleaning activities were completed, we eventually uploaded our photographs to our website Gallery from Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It took a little longer than expected as we decided to automate the process, as cataloguing all our photographs was becoming a full-time job for Elaine, nevermind trying to find the time to write the daily blog and the website articles.

With a return to beautiful blue skies and warm, sunny weather, we enjoyed another barbecue aboard this evening and caught up with the family in Arizona while they enjoyed Superbowl Sunday with friends.

On Thursday we had planned on a lazy morning on board then going into Chatswood,  but, unfortunately, our issue in having to fend off the heavy wooden boat on the mooring next to us returned the minute we removed our stern line to the police mooring, having realised that our mooring had dragged in the strong winds overnight. After a call to Cammeray Marina and no suitable alternative available to us currently,  we had no option but to come off the swing mooring and head to Bantry Bay,  where we picked up a public mooring and will stay until we're kicked off it by the Road and Marine Police. We'll then just find a spot to anchor for the remainder of our time in Sydney.

Once we were settled and, although it was another cold, rainy and windy day, Roy undertook a reconnaissance ashore to see what facilities were available and if there was any access to a suitable bus route, while Elaine remained on board and continued sorting out our photographs. Unfortunately, he found nothing of use to a full-time cruiser,  but he did see a rather large wild Kangaroo hopping around the nature reserve, while going "walkabout".

Yesterday, with the weather remaining miserable, we decided to go ashore regardless and met Terence for a coffee in Chatswood. That also allowed Elaine to get her hair cut and buy some new light weight walking shoes, as well as get some printing done for our revised visas and visit a very popular and well stocked naturapathic / homeopathic store, after advice we had received and research Roy had undertaken on various natural supplements to help boost Elaine's body in conjunction with the medical treatment she is receiving. Add to that some ancient Chinese medicine and you would be correct in saying that we're "in for a penny,  in for a pound",  with nothing to loose.

Being the first Friday of the month there was also a market,  where we were able to buy biltong and droerwors, as well as enjoy an interesting Turkish Gozleme for lunch.

Today we had to head back to Chatswood to make use of the free Justice of the Peace services at the Chatswood Library to get all our documentation notarised. On our way home Angie collected us from the bus stop and we enjoyed a light lunch at the Echo by the Marina restaurant. Getting Angie's mom, accompanied by Angie and Elaine, however, to the restaurant from the road in an oversized "chair lift" was an interesting experience to say the least. Fortunately Elaine didn't have to go back up to the road, since our dinghy was on the beach just in front of the restaurant.

Chats to Keenan and enjoying Roy's famous homemade soup for dinner, on yet another rainy, windy day, helped warm the cockles of our heart.

Although Monday was laundry day and Roy found the time to replace the yoker value on his heads (aka toilet), we had a wonderful morning over a coffee at the Plonk Beach Café, catching up with Anne and Stuart off Time Bandit,  who recently returned from their trip home to Scotland.  The time seemed to fly by in a flash,  but it was,  nonetheless, lovely to see them again.

Yesterday,  we went "back to work".  Well, at least for the early morning commute in rush hour traffic into downtown Sydney. From there another bus ride took us to Drummoyne for Elaine to have the first of her "monitoring" blood tests done, followed by a morning coffee at one of our favourite cafés, Jean Louis Joseph, before heading back to downtown to visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship. We did get a lovely surprise though,  when the laboratories informed us that they had decided to only charge us $30.80AUD instead of regular charge of $180AUD for the blood tests, since we were repeat customers and this will be an ongoing occurrence. We can't imagine a medical company of any description in the USA or, for that matter, New Zealand doing something like this! Amazing and very much appreciated! Thank you Laverty Pathology.

A delicious lunch at the Naked Duck in the Darling Quarter preceeded our visit to the Chinese Garden of Friendship, which was a very educational, as well as relaxing, affair as we explored the mystery and magic of the garden. Our explorations took in the sights of the Black Bamboo Forest, a symbol of age and humility, the Himalayan cedar trees, cascading waterfalls,  traditional carvings,  hidden sculptures and the graceful weeping willows that surrounded the Lake of Brightness with its sacred lotus flowers. The Rock Forest tells the story of "Ashima, the Dancing Maiden and the Landlord", a tragic, yet beautiful tale of how the landlord tries to thwart her romance with "Ali". The jewel of the garden, The Gurr, also known as The Clear View Pavilion, sits at the highest point,  beautifully decorated with a lavish gold roof, intricate woodcarvings and an ornate latern symbolising prosperity.

The garden was opened in 1988 and is a unique symbol of the friendship between the people of the southern Chinese city of Guangdong and Sydney,  two sister cities of sister states.

The Dragon Wall features two imperial dragons playing with the Pearl of Friendship beneath mirrors reflecting their movements flying in the clouds above,  where the flying dragons symbolise majesty and perfection in the Chinese culture.

It is also a place where "Yin meets Yang", the Taoist principle incorporating the five apposing elements of earth,  fire, water, metal and wood. When perfectly balanced they are thought to form a fluid,  nurturing environment. Examples of this are found in the garden where rocks appear to defy gravity and in the contrast of the rushing waters of the waterfalls against the still water of the Lake of Brightness. The garden also incorporates the Chinese philosophical system of "Feng Shui", where "Qi", meaning "Life Force " or "Energy Path" is encouraged to flow. Everything from the plants and trees to the sculptures, rocks and pavilions were meticulously chosen to capture the "Qi" of the five elements and the universal forces that bind them together.

While we meandered through the garden and then took the time to contemplate life sitting in the shade of one of the pavilions, before enjoying Chinese tea at the traditional teahouse, the peacefulness and tranquillity we experienced was definitely evident. We also stumpled across a beautiful sculpture depicting the creatures that represents each year within the Chinese calendar. Further research revealed that, while Roy thought his luck in 2018 for work, love, wealth and health weren't that great,  Elaine's were even worse at one star out of five each.  I guess the year started out the way it intends to proceed!

On our return to Paw Paw we ended up spending quite a considerable amount of time chatting to folks on Echo Point Park beach, who always seem fascinated by our lifestyle and the adventures we've enjoyed thus far. When we eventually did get back to Paw Paw, it was dinner time and then early to bed.

Today,  with the arrival of the rainy, windy weather,  we're spending our time on board fending off the boat on the mooring next to us again.  This time,  instead of a stern anchor, we've tied a line to the emergency police swing mooring to our aft in order to hold us off. So far, so good! We also took delivery of our re-certified liferaft with far less hassle than our first encounter with this company.  They have redeemed themselves! A video call to Brooke and the grandchildren wrapped up the day.

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