Before flying back to Sydney, we spent four delightful days anchored at Fitzroy Island, snorkelling and exploring this beautiful island.

Fitzroy Island map.

View of the resort from Esprit.

Walk to the secret garden.

Nudey Beach.

Nudey shower.

Trees in flower.

Long walk up to the lighthouse.

Eccentric yachties taking their pet ducks for a swim.

Back to Cairns – Australian border security vessel steaming past.

After preparing and securing Esprit as best we could for a possible cyclone, we caught a taxi to Cairns airport for the flight back to Sydney on the 20th December.

Everything lashed down.

From Sydney airport, the train journey to Circular Quay took 20 minutes. We were met by the familiar sights of the harbour bridge and the opera house on our ferry ride to Manly, where Michelle Watson picked us up. The Watson’s kindly put us up in their brand new apartment in Dee Why.

Harbour bridge.

Opera house.

The following evening, they had the Thomson’s and Allan’s (old Madison Way neighbours) over for a welcome back dinner, so that we could all catch up with news of the past seven months. After recovering the next morning, we attended a Smith-clan get together in the evening at Cath and Stef’s townhouse.

Ron and Michelle departed on the 23rd December for a Watson family Christmas in Melbourne. On Friday night it was drinks at Neil and Rose Baird, before we had to pick up our daughter Karen, at the Manly ferry after her flight from Lismore. She was able to get four days off work, which allowed us walks and swims in Manly and Dee Why.

Dee Why beach.

Families picnicking on the Dee Why beachfront.

Jim and Gail Petrie invited us to a long lunch on Christmas day, with their children and partners, visiting from Cape Town. It was great to catch up with all of them. This year, we opted to watch the Boxing day start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on TV, rather than on the water. Favourable Northerlies enabled the winning yacht to better the race record by 5 hours.

Gail and Annie.

Karen, Kerrie and Jim.

The Watson’s got back on the 27th and they were able to catch up with Karen before she flew back to Lismore. After stocking up their Jeanneau SO 41DS yacht, we sailed down to Sydney harbour to spend the next 4 days cruising the harbour and enjoying the New Year’s eve fireworks, which was spectacular.

The 1st of January marked Annie’s 62nd birthday, which started in great spirits.

Preparing Annie’s birthday present.


Midnight fireworks!

Party animals.

The 2nd was spent recovering below the Quarantine station in Manly Cove, before we sailed back to the Pittwater in a boisterous 20-25 knot Southerly. We nearly lost Ron’s dinghy with outboard in the 2-3 metre swell, but he jumped overboard to retrieve the dinghy and motored back to RMYC.

Ron and his dinghy in a big sea.

Women in sailing: Annie and Michelle.

We came back to the apartment to recover, while the Watson’s cruised the Pittwater for the next couple of days. This gave us the opportunity to sort out some admin issues, like a new post office box and mail forwarding. Also on the list, dental and skin cancer check-ups, cancelling some of our bank accounts and credit cards, no longer essential on the high seas. We also went to the cinemas on tight-arse Tuesdays for our first movies in seven months.

Ron and Hooper on Dee Why clifftop walk.

Dee Why beach picnic: Michelle, Annie, Lynne & Malcolm.

The usual suspects: Ron & Kevin.

Jim got us tickets for the Sharon Shannon show at the Basement on the 7th January. Liz Morris joined us and we caught up with her news over dinner before the show.

Annie & Jim on the Manly ferry.

The Sharon Shannon band.

On the 9th we attended Brad Watson’s engagement dinner to Coco, before driving up to Orange to visit Gideon and Francois on the 10th January. Francois has bought a dental practice in Orange and Gideon has bought two guesthouses to keep him busy in retirement. They treated us to a wine tour around Orange, visiting a few cellars for wine tastings.

With Loretta at De Salis Wines.

On our way back to Sydney on the 12th January, we celebrated 20 years in Australia. It has been a most rewarding time for us in terms of personal growth in a multicultural society and watching our daughters achieve their ambitions in a secular and equal opportunity environment. Thank you Australia!