Sydney in July: A cold and wet winter.

Sydney in July: A cold and wet winter.

At the end of June a big weather system formed off the NSW coast. This resulted in severe flooding of the northern coastal plains along the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers and the coastal plains to the south of Sydney. The system dumped between 700mm and a metre of rain in the region, over the weekend of the 1 – 4th July. We had heavy rain in Warriewood, but no flooding.

Offshore low causing heavy onshore rain.

The irony is that we have extremes: Either droughts, resulting in bushfires in summer, or, heavy rain in winter as experienced over the last three years. Climate change is a reality and it is good to see the new government commit to reduced emissions and renewable energy in line with targets adopted in Europe. Also, by offering incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles.

Flooded shores of the Hawkesbury River.

Our EV which we ordered in January, is now due to arrive in August. I have managed to have the bylaws for our estate redrafted by strata solicitors, to allow for solar panel systems to be installed on our roofs. This was approved at a strata meeting on the 7th July. The new bylaw has been submitted for registration by the Lands Department, which should take about a month.

The BYD Atto 3 EV we ordered.

We already have 6 quotes to install a 6.6kW solar panel array on our unit 17, to charge the EV as well as for electrical energy during the day, feeding excess energy back into the grid. We don’t need to buy an expensive $15,000 Tesla 13.5kWh Powerwall 2 home battery, as our new EV will have vehicle to load capability, allowing us to use it’s big 60.4kWh car battery for some of our energy requirements. How good is that – we may even be carbon neutral, as well as not having to pay $2.20/l for petrol, the price recently and bound to go up in the future.

During the rainy period, Annie suddenly had the urge to do furniture restoration. She tackled a large coffee table and bookcase, stripped the Oregon pine of varnish, sanded it endlessly and sealed it with Beeswax. This may be the last.

Working on the bookcase in the garage.

We also had news from our daughters who were having fun travelling abroad. Michelle after the UK, spent time in Amsterdam and then met up with hiking friends Luzi, Lara and Zoe in Hinterthal, Switzerland to do a 4 day hike in the Swiss Alps.

Starting out in the lower valleys, heading for Berghutte at 2000m.

More clothes as she gets higher.

Getting chilly at 3,000m.

Celebrating completion of the 4 day hike at Arthurhaus, after 50km and 2,995m elevation gain.

Karen and Evan in the meantime, got to La Paz in Bolivia after doing volunteer work, then set off for the Uyuni salt flats – at 11,000 sq km, the largest body of white salt in the world.

Karen and Evan.

Karen and friends.

By mid-July 2022, Covid infections were on the rise again in Australia due to two new Covid strains. The government was prepared this time with adequate vaccines in stock, so we checked in with our local chemist where we received our third booster shot.

Warriewood Wetlands.

We are fortunate to have a number of nature trails on our doorstep – 200m down Garden Street, we have the start of the Warriewood Wetlands trails. A number of raised timber walking trails and a huge diversity of birds – apart from the ubiquitous Kookaburras and White Cockatiels, there are also the Bellbird honeyeaters with their unique bell sound.

Irrawong waterfall.

When we go shopping at the Warriewood shopping centre, we walk there and back through the Wetlands walk.  Across the road from us is the start of the Irrawong reserve, with the trail leading up the valley past the waterfall about 500m from our house, to Ingleside further up the valley. Lots of exercise here, keeping the circulation going in winter!

We wrapped the month of July with a B-line bus ride to Wynyard in the city, to visit the Sydney International Boat Show at Darling Harbour. Afterwards, we walked across the city to the NSW Art gallery to view the annual Archibald competition art exhibition. Some of the entries follow below.

The Archibald winner: Blak Douglas inspired by the recent floods.

Peter Garrett by Anh Do.

The big switch to solar power – portrait of inventor and engineer, Dr Saul Griffith.

Hirsute: Self portrait of Peter Hannaford – a three times cancer survivor.

Untitled: Wynne prize for landscape painting.

After the exhibition, we walked back to Wynyard for the bus ride home to Warriewood and a well deserved beer after covering 11 km during the day. The days are getting longer and soon we hope to welcome spring here in Sydney, after a decidedly wet and cold July. Cheers for now!

Dirk & Annie

 

Sydney May and June 2022.

Sydney May and June 2022.

Well, here we are in mid June: Settled into our new townhouse, the federal election is behind us, with a new Labour government in power, winter is upon us and four weeks of prostate radiation therapy has been completed.

6th May 2022: Arriving at 17/153 Garden St, Warriewood.

Champagne welcome with Karen, Michelle and Evan, at our new mini abode.

Next morning – North Narrabeen – our new local beach.

Coffees after the swim.

Shortly afterwards, Karen and Evan flew to South America for three months and Michelle to the UK and Europe for three months. We discovered that kids are for keeps: they have unloaded all their sh*t in our attic and garage while they are away, as Karen had rented out her house in Newcastle for the foreseeable future and Michelle has parked her camper van somewhere in Bondi. Never a dull moment!

A walk at the North Narrabeen lagoon entrance.

We can move forward with other projects and plan for some more sailing and travelling. Roles have now been reversed: kids not worrying about parents at sea, but parents wondering about the whereabouts of their kids – Karen and Evan somewhere in South America for three months and Michelle away in Europe and the UK for three months.

Annie having a coffee after a swim in the ocean pool.

We were asked to do a talk on circumnavigating the world for a sailing gathering. In hindsight I should have declined, as three weeks into my radiation treatment, I was really feeling knackered and failed to put on a happy face. Apart from that, a third of the audience could see the television screen showing our photos, while another third had to watch a footy match on another screen.The rest was an unrelated rowdy crowd having dinner right next to us. To crown it all, the next speaker asked us to hurry up, about ten minutes before the end of our talk, as he was eager to share his local sailing plans for the year ahead in a lengthy monologue. This event reminded us of stand up comedy in a noisy pub – but hey, this is Australia and we love it.

Trimming a fast growing banana tree.

Here in Sydney, we have had a very wet couple of months due to the La Nina weather system. The plants in our front and back gardens are thriving and had to be cut back as they were leaning over the fences of our neighbours.

We had some news from Karen and Evan in South America – they were having a good time. Adrenaline junkie Karen, who summited Cotopaxi in Ecuador during her last visit, had to jump of a cliff with a parasail bloke at San Gil in the Andes. San Gil is famous for extreme sports – they also did a big zip line run and canyoning. Great to see Evan taking her to more sedate venues in the evenings.

Parasailing, Colombia 2022

Up and away.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador 2018.

A romantic evening in Bogota.

Hauling our life raft into the cockpit.

A call from Marine Rescue alerted us that our life raft stored in a locker under the cockpit floor, had spontaneously inflated and was hanging out the back of the boat. It had blown the locker panel into the water and the swim platform off its hinges. We managed to retrieve and pack the raft to courier it back to the manufacturer’s in Queensland. It was fully serviced by their agents in Panama eleven months ago, but the cause is unknown until they have inspected it. We shudder to think of the consequences, if this had happened in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Trying to pack the life raft for dispatch to the factory.

The broken hinge bearings ripped out of the swim platform.

We celebrated the completion of my prostate nuking with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow at the Glen Street Theatre (the show name is almost as long as the show). It was excellent Aussie humour – it also felt strange to be sitting shoulder to shoulder in a packed theatre, after almost six years out in the open at sea. It gave us enough confidence to go to the local cinema the following week.

Michelle, who is having a three month break from her post at the UN, started her trip with a yoga retreat and tech detox in Portugal. Then, off to the UK for time with her many friends there – she worked in London for five years. She enjoyed numerous hikes in Cornwall and Dartmoor with her  “Women in the Forests” hiking group, started in 2017. She later met up with Kristian for hikes in Switzerland and then attending the Montreux Jazz Festival. After this, she planned to do part of the Camino de Santiago walk through northern Spain and Portugal.

Dartmoor.

Old friends, now with kids.

Having almost settled down in our townhouse, we will now focus on getting the boat back in shape and preparing her for another long cruise in the new year. We will keep you posted – cheers for now!

Dirk and Annie

Sydney: March and April 2022.

Sydney: March and April 2022.

In this post, we will depart temporarily from our sailing and travelling news, to report on the whirlwind of activities in selling our family home and downsizing to a smaller townhouse, since arriving back in Sydney. Also, I report on the treatment for my prostate cancer diagnoses, while all this was happening. After six years of carefree sailing around the world, this post may serve as therapy, to get my head around this new reality. In the previous post I mentioned how, a MRI scan in Newcastle confirmed cancer in my prostate and how, immediately after arriving back in Sydney we set about selling our house in Allambie Heights and putting further sailing plans on hold for the time being.

On the 25th March, after viewing enough townhouses and apartments to last us a lifetime, our offer of $1,550,000 was accepted for unit 17 at 153 Garden Street, Warriewood. We had viewed more than 50 properties in two months before finding this gem, which suited us perfectly – a two bedroom, one bathroom, one garage townhouse, all on one level.

Plan

Front deck and garden

Lounge/dining

It seemed like Christmas when, while having a celebratory lunch at the Harbord Diggers Club, I had a call from NSW Maritime to tell me they had a mooring available for Esprit at Refuge Cove near RMYC. The annual rental of $1072 is a lot less than the $605 monthly rental we pay at RMYC. All our old Madison Way friends joined us for a celebratory dinner on Friday evening the 25th March, with much champagne, wine and food for all.

Kitchen

Main bedroom

Rear courtyard

On the 30th March 2022, I checked into North Shore Private Hospital to have gold fiducial markers inserted into my prostate, in preparation radiation therapy. This was followed by a visit to the department of Nuclear Medicine at Royal North Shore Hospital for a Positron Emission Tomography Scan (PET), where I was given a radioactive injection so that the PET scanner could diagnose and locate the cancers in the prostate and possibly, the lymph glands.

Finally, on the 11th April, I had a MRI scan and an CT planning scan at Nuclear Medicine for planning and draw up a radiation schedule for my treatment. For this purpose I was given three pinhead tattoos on my hips and lower abdomen, to ensure accurate positioning during radiation. Being the first in our family to get tattoos, I am now ready for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle! The facilities at the private and adjoining public hospital, were ultra modern and the staff service was exceptional, with very little waiting times for appointments or tests.

Annie with the new sails and battens for Esprit.

Kristian and Michelle helping us to fit the new 70kg mainsail, lazy jacks and reefing lines.

During April, Annie’s brother Joe and his partner Mary came to visit us from New Zealand. Mary’s sister Annie lives near us and we enjoyed some fantastic walks and catching up during their visit. We had a fortuitous spell of sunshine and good weather during this time.

Joe and the two Annie’s at Barrenjoey lighthouse.

Dirk, Annie and Mary with the Pacific Ocean on the left and the Pittwater on the right.

I had volunteered to participate in the Optimal Prostate Fractional Study at the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre. This study is to compare the outcomes of prostate radiation through the standard 20 treatments over four weeks, with 5 treatments in larger doses, over a two week period. This new technology has acceptable side effects and promising effectiveness, compared to the 20 treatment programme. As much as I wanted to be on the shorter programme, the randomized selection allocated me to the 20 treatment programme, which will commence on the 10th May 2022.

On the 28th April 2022, I clicked over to 75 years on this mortal coil, a milestone that wasn’t vaguely contemplated during my youth. It also marked 35 years since Annie persuaded me to leave bachelorhood behind and get married – and what a journey that has been!

D&A wedding 1987.

Look at us now.

Our neighbours in Madison Way decided to give us a farewell party before we moved 14 km to the North. Most of the early settlers in the ‘hood, 21 years ago, attended a lunch at Ross and Heather Allan’s house on the 30th April. It was great to catch up with everyone and hear about their kids – some were babes in arms back then. We reminisced about the great Christmas and street parties we had, progressive dinners and other milestones, such as late night aerobics in Paul’s spa bath! This is a great community and we will stay in touch – 14 km is but a hop, skip and jump away.

Tall Ross on the right, welcoming the early settlers.

Neville Cleary (88) the developer of Madison Way, presented with his Mayoral chain.

Dirk, founding party reprobate presented with farewell socks.

Lunch time.

Table 2.

On that note, we end this post – we will report on our new mini abode nearer the Pittwater and Esprit, in due course.

Cheers for now.

 

Sydney January to March 2022.

Sydney January to March 2022.

SV Esprit tied up at the Royal Motor Yacht Club on Friday 14 January 2022. The next day we were issued with new photo ID security cards, replacing our six year old membership cards and registering our vehicle number plate for the new camera gate opening system. All these changes were introduced during our absence, as well as other new or improved club facilities.

Michelle & Kristian.

Michelle invited her friend Kristian for a sail a day later. We sailed over to Towlers Bay and after picking up a mooring went ashore to climb up to the Bairne Lookout for a panoramic view of the Pittwater across Morning Bay and Scotland Island to the South.

Having a breather while climbing up to the lookout.

Annie showing no strain.

Looking out over Morning Bay with a huge Gin palace at anchor.

We sailed to and anchored in The Basin further north on the Pittwater, for a walk and a swim and our evening BBQ of leg of lamb and salads.

Michelle and some friendly ducks.

Full moon rising over Barrenjoey lighthouse.

On the Monday Kristian and Michelle helped us take the main and jib sails and the mainsail boom bag down for repairs. After they left, we started the process of getting our house ready for sale. The house was looking tired after the tenants. We interviewed two estate agents to handle the marketing and sale and got two quotes to paint the house inside and out and two quotes to cut back and clean the overgrown garden.

Our house plans.

I bought a new Karcher high pressure water cleaner and a wet/dry vacuum cleaner and set about cleaning the outside of the house, the balconies, the eaves, the garage and storage area below the house. By the Friday the painters had already painted all the ceilings in the house and I had finished water blasting the outside of the house, the driveway, the retaining walls and the timber deck at the back. Annie was working apace on the admin and organising of all the details and searching for our new house.

Street facade after cleaning and painting.

On the Saturday we visited five open house inspections to get a feel for the current property market. The following week the painters and us gave it a good go, only taking off Australia Day on the 26th January. By Friday the internal painting was done and seven more open house inspections was on our agenda for the Saturday.

The back garden and timber deck.

By Tuesday evening the 1st February, everything was done and dusted: the house painted inside and out, gardens trimmed and cleaned with new wood chips on the ground and the stove rehabilitated (it was a mess). I also stripped the old coats of deck finish and applied two coats of new decking oil to the timber deck at the back of the house.

Our bedroom after styling.

On the Thursday “Furnish and Finish” arrived and styled the house – we very nearly didn’t recognise the place when we arrived after they had done their styling. On the Friday  the 4th February, three weeks after we arrived back in Sydney, we took all the stuff we needed at our house from the boat and tied Esprit up at a new mooring near Scotland Island.

Kitchen and meals area after styling.

We then moved back into our new look house to celebrate with a bottle of wine and a knock up spag bol on our one plate induction cooker plate ($50 at Aldi’s), before collapsing on our familiar bed for a well deserved sleep. On Saturday a new fridge and washing machine was delivered for use during the potential three months stay, until settlement of a sale.

Lounge and dining area – I think our furniture would have looked better.

Sunday was busy day with me applying a last coat of decking oil to our rear timber deck, before having our old neighbours over for sundowners late afternoon. Following the photo shoot of the house on the Monday, brochures were produced in record time for our first home open for inspection on Saturday the 12th February: 23 groups came through and 6 contracts were taken, which according to our agent, was looking promising,

Downstairs family room.

Wednesdays and Saturdays became a merry-go-round of open house inspections for us, as we tried to find a small two bedroom, one bathroom lock-up and go townhouse. Clearly Australian house designs have morphed into magnificent 4-5 bedroom, 2-3 bathroom, double garage McMansions (of which, our  house is a good example). We jokingly discussed moving into the Narrabeen caravan park, as we have become quite used to compact boat living, were not used to keeping up with the Joneses and preferred to march to our own drum. We also briefly looked at retirement villages for the over 55’s in Bayview, but Annie felt we were not yet ready for that.

Walking in the Warriewood Wetlands

On the 24th February our other project, the upgrading of Esprit’s sails, canvas work and running gear, took another step forward with the delivery of a new 50 m2 Fastnet 9.9oz offshore fully battened mainsail, a 42 m2 Fastnet 9.9oz offshore furling headsail and a 115 m2 Fibremax 2.2oz radial cut Code C sail on a Sveggen furling system. This $17,000 investment will keep Esprit sailing for many more years to come, as these specifications are bullet proof.

Beautifully preserved Warriewood Wetlands.

At a meeting with our agents, halfway through the house sale campaign, it appeared that the property market had softened since the buying frenzy at the end of 2021, when the most recent house sale in our street fetched almost $2.5 million. Our pragmatic view after 25 years of buying and selling property in Australia, is that the property market is a bit like the Lotto and that the market will decide the price, despite the valuations the agents often estimate.

Wildlife in the Wetlands.

In the meantime, Karen and Evan did the Jervis Bay triathlon on 26 February. They were glad that the continuous three week deluge of rain flooding the East coast of Australia, eased up to a light drizzle for this event. The two of them are flying to Bogota in early May, to spend three months exploring South America, before she starts her next registrar’s contract in Sydney. Michelle who finishes her contract with the UN in India at end April, will be flying to Europe in May to spend three months of R&R travelling in Europe, before taking on another assignment.

For the past year Karen has been working in Accidents and Emergency surgery under Prof. Balogh, the head of Traumatology and Surgery at the John Hunter hospital in Newcastle. She was stoked when she and Balogh operated with Prof. Munjed Al Muderis in Sydney on 2 March. Al Muderis a former boat refugee, is the leading expert on osseointegration. (Direct titanium prosthetic implants into the bone structure) See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munjed_Al_Muderis

The Curl-Curl walk, looking towards North Curl-Curl.

During all this activity, I went for a long overdue medical checkup and blood tests. The result of an increased PSA level (Prostate Specific Antigen), resulted in a MRI scan of my prostate, followed two weeks later by a needle biopsy. The MRI and biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer in two areas of my prostate. My urologist Dr. Kris Rasiah, advised radiation treatment rather than surgery.

I have an appointment with Prof. Tom Eade, a radiation oncologist at Sydney University, to start a four week course of External Beam Radiation Therapy, which has the advantage of being a non invasive treatment. In all other respects, I am riddled with good health, but I will keep you posted on developments and hopefully, a positive prostate outcome.

Rough seas at South Curl-Curl.

Mario our agent did a lot of work before auction day, Saturday the 5th March, to ensure at least two bidders on the day. He also received two offers in the week leading up to auction and on the Friday, with all things considered, we decided to accept the highest offer of $2,200,000.

We had seen two townhouses in Warriewood near the Pittwater, which suited our requirements with two bedrooms, one bathroom and one garage, the usual lounge/dining/kitchen configuration with compact front and back gardens – all on one level, for around $1,400,000. A no-brainer really, leaving us with at least $500,000 to spend on a V12 Ferrari – or not! The outcome will be revealed in due course in our next post.

Cheers for now.

Newcastle to Sydney.

Newcastle to Sydney.

Annie and I enjoyed a 5 week break from sailing in Newcastle, about 2 hours (155 km) north of our home in Sydney. Esprit was tied up at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, where we spent some nights, while on other nights we stayed at Eugene Quinn’s (Evan’s dad) quaint turn of the century house in Mayfield east, not far from Karen’s house in Mayfield.

Eugene’s house.

Eugene’s backyard with a cosy flat and a you beaut shed.

Eugene spends most of his time in Anna Bay near Port Stephens and insisted we stay at his house. We took out our bikes and when not walking, we cycled with Karen and Evan to see the sights of Newcastle – including the pub where they first met some years ago.

The pub where two pairs of eyes met across a crowded room.

Bear with me, as this post won’t be about sailing, but about our family, as we haven’t seen our daughters in three years. It was great to spend time with Karen and Michelle, catch up with their news, meet their friends, explore Newcastle and have some home comforts for a change.

Karen’s house with her spotless little Nissan Micra which she has been driving for the last 13 years.

On our first Friday night in town we went to the exhibition of the theses for the Master degree in Architecture at Newcastle University – Karen’s friend was exhibiting her thesis. It was most interesting to see how the content and presentation of these theses have changed since our days at Architecture school back in the sixties/seventies. The work is now more conceptual with little or no understanding of building technology or structural design. I am sure the engineers will come to the rescue!

Design and presentation are now computerised which is understandable, as working on a drawing board is hard yakka.  Apart from that, what used to be a 6 year course concluding with a thesis to gain a B. Arch. and then 2 years working as an architect in training, has now been condensed into 3 years for a B.Arch. and another 2 years for a M. Arch.

How can that be? I suppose the young folks of today are much smarter and technical proficiency is no longer a requirement in the real world. That is only my view, but the one thing that has not changed since my day, are the eccentric and sometimes weird characters studying architecture! — Enough of that, now on to some music.

Eugene (right) having a band practice with his mates at his house.

Brett at Wednesday night band practice.

A few days after arriving in Newcastle, we took up the Government’s offer of Covid booster shots, as it was six months since our vaccinations in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Just as well, as the next week the new Omicron strain of the virus started spreading like wildfire. In the interest of science and in an effort to develop a new oral vaccine for this new threat, I tirelessly self-medicated each evening, carefully evaluating the efficacy of various cultivars of Australian wine. The jury is still out on the results, but I will selflessly pursue my research.

For the rest of the time leading up to Christmas, we met Evan’s family, all of them warm and down to earth people. Evan is a liberated and caring young man – also a romantic, as we learned. He proposed to Karen in the rain under a picnic shelter at Nobby’s Beach, with one of their favourite local musicians, Lili Crane playing Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” for them. Karen was surprised.

A wet Evan pops the question to a wet Karen.

Kaz & Quinno (as their mates call them) with Lili Crane.

Evan also presented Karen with a ring, which left Annie jealous, quickly reminding me that the only ring I ever gave her, was the ring around the inside of the bathtub.

Newcastle, the coal and once, the steel hub of New South Wales, has an amazing collection of historical buildings and Victorian workers cottages, as well as some well designed modern buildings, interspersed with factories and old trade businesses.

The old Technical College on Hunter Street.

A veritable feast for the eyes, as most of the old building stock are well maintained while the rest are in the process of being renovated and the areas gentrified. We may invest in property locally, as a lot of young folks are moving here from Sydney and the rental returns are better than Sydney. We also visited the Newcastle Art Gallery.

The School of Arts – just a small sample of historical Newcastle.

Walking along the harbourfront – someone put Christmas decorations on this tree

Summer solstice sunset, 21st December – we had a walk, swim and picnic at Nobby’s Beach.

Annie in particular, did a lot of walking with Michelle, who is working hard to strengthen her knee after her knee arthroscopy, in preparation for a hiking tour to Europe from June to August 2022 – Covid allowing. Karen and Evan are practising for another triathlon in Jervis Bay and I did a lot of reading and as usual, thinking – and listening to music.

Karen giving me a pre-Christmas haircut.

On Christmas Eve, Karen and Evan had their annual  Orphan’s dinner (persons without parents in Newcastle). This year only about 20 friends attended, because, with Covid restrictions temporarily lifted, many were able to travel home. The evening was a rip roaring affair with some hilarious quiz games prepared by Paula and Nick. Lots of food, drinks, music and laughter until late, with a wonderful group of young people.

Annie & Karen with their ham before putting it into the oven.

Quiz mistress Paula explaining the rules.

The 3 teams ready to roll with the quiz.

Charades – scene from “Titanic”

Oops! I don’t think this was in the script.

Team no. 3 members cheering on their actors.

Molly and Nick’s suggestive act comes to an end.

On Christmas Day we went for a walk and a swim at Merewether Beach, followed by a traditional family seafood lunch of salmon, prawns and salads at Karen’s house – Evan had lunch with his family. After two big successive meals, we all needed a Nanna nap!

G’day Merewether Beach.

The girls with Christmas lunch.

Farzher and Shelly with Aperols.

Not for long though, as on Boxing Day, it was the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, which had a glued to the TV. The rest of Australia’s cricket tragics were watching the third Ashes test against the Poms in Melbourne, where the Aussies won and retained the Ashes.

The rest of the week leading up to the New Year was spent doing things on the boat like fitting beach wheels to our dinghy and using Eugene’s gurney to give the dinghy and Esprit’s deck, cockpit and topsides a good clean and polish afterwards. I also managed to do a few maintenance jobs for Karen at her house. On the 31st we cleaned the house and moved back to the boat after 14 days at Eugene’s house, which was a welcome break for us on land.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening for us with both Karen and Michelle and their friends camping and walking in the bush. Newcastle put on a very good fireworks display which we enjoyed with a bottle of wine and snacks on our deck. New Year’s Day and Annie’s 67th birthday, turned out a sunny day and after a hearty breakfast prepared by moi, we cycled to Newcastle Beach where we joined the locals worshipping the sun and swimming.

In the evening, we had a fabulous roast leg of lamb on our Weber Baby Q with all the accoutrements and the company of Karen and Evan. The start of a promising new year was ahead for all of us.

The following week saw us visiting Evan’s 96 year old Grandma Hedi for tea and cake. I also went for a medical checkup with a local doctor. We had a visit for lunch from Ron & Dot Thompson, our neighbours in Sydney and a lunch BBQ at Evan’s mom Vicky, while waiting for the new rudder bearings for Esprit to arrive from Sydney.

The 12th January marked our 26th anniversary in Australia, which we toasted with champagne, happy to be living in this wonderful country.

G’day mate! (Newcastle Art Gallery)

We departed Newcastle on Friday 14th January 2022, for the 63 nm sail to the Royal Motor Yacht Club, on the Pittwater at Newport in Sydney. Karen & Michelle sailed the last leg with us, with Karen enjoying steering all the way in the good breeze.

Leaving Newcastle with a cargo vessel entering the harbour.

Leaving Newcastle behind.

The Girls.

Entering the Pittwater sailing past the familiar Barrenjoey lighthouse.

Karen at the wheel.

Michelle belting out a Bonnie Raitt song with Lion Island in the background.

Welcomed at RMYC by my dear friend Ron Watson.

Professor Balogh, Karen’s boss, explaining the bloodline of his champion homing pigeons.

Drawing a parallel with our homecoming, we release two of his champion homing pigeons.

Thus ended the journey we started from RMYC on the 15th May 2016, finishing back here after 5 years and 8 months. During this time Esprit has covered 38,937 nm (72,111 km), including the 1,603 nm from Cairns back to Sydney. An experience we have thoroughly enjoyed, but which won’t be our last. We will keep you posted on events during 2022 and beyond. Cheers for now!

Esprit’s route around the world. (Click to enlarge)