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The Voyage of Spectacle 2009 July

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for July, 2009

Tour of the Northern Beaches with Friends from Billy Kwong

Posted by: melissa

About a week ago, we had dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Billy Kwong.  Billy Kwong is not an actual person, but the first name of one owner and the surname of the other owner.  Kylie Kwong is a celebrity chef in Australia specializing in Asian fusion cuisine, and she was there that evening standing in front of the semi-exposed kitchen at the service pass-through expediting orders.  The food was outstanding.  As we left, Andy waved and gave an effusive thumbs-up towards her, and she gracefully stepped to one side and gestured a bow to the uniformed chefs in the kitchen.  So incredibly classy. 

Anyway, Billy Kwong’s is quite a small restaurant, and as such, the tables are small and very close together.  In these types of scenarios, I always know that we’ll be making new friends since Andy just can’t not talk to the other tables … he’s very outgoing, he can’t help himself!  So, we met a lovely couple … Chris and Angela who live in Dubai and are visiting family in Sydney.  Suffice it to say, they are engaging people with very interesting and unusual life histories, and we got on like a house afire.  We had dinner together last week at a restaurant called Buzo, which was very fun because of good company but less successful for the cuisine.

Chris and Angela invited us for Yum Cha and after a delicious and super fun lunch, we decided to play hooky from boat preparations and take a drive to the northern beaches and Broken Bay.  We were especially interested in seeing Broken Bay since we had already decided to skip it by boat and head straight for Newcastle.  Those suburbs of Sydney are very beautiful, and the car tour turned into pitchers of beer by the water, and grill-it-yourself steak dinner and wine.  We didn’t get much done today, and we’ll probably delay our departure by one day at least, but who cares.

Yep, Delayed Departure

Posted by: melissa

We woke up this morning to gusty winds which is bad news.  We need to put the headsail back on, which is very difficult in windy conditions.  This chore should take about an hour, and we need to push off the dock by about one o’clock to head to another marina to fuel up, take some final pictures of the harbor, and get through the headlands and out of the bay by dark.  It’s not looking good for that schedule.  And it’s raining. 

Additionally, someone appears to have moved our lines as the stern has bashed into the dock several times this morning.  Getting the boat to stay put in a slip without hitting the dock or the neighboring boat can sometimes be tricky in areas with high winds, frequently changing wind directions, current, and/or wash from the wake of boat traffic.  The crew of other boats who are sharing dock cleats need to untie us to get their own lines free.  They mean well, but our boat is not the usual harbor cruiser sailboat that recreational sailors are used to.  A 20-ton vessel, ocean-worthy for along passages, behaves quite differently than a small recreational sailboat.  We were pretty annoyed to have to go out and fix the lines in the rain.

Arrival in Newcastle

Posted by: melissa
Imagine my surprise when this kayaker pulled up next to me to say hello!

Imagine my surprise when this kayaker pulled up next to me to say hello!

Yesterday, we ate lunch, showered, paid our tab at the chandlery, paid the marina bill, and we were off.  We headed off to find a diesel dock since the D’Albora Rushcutters Bay Marina was remodeling its diesel dock rendering it unavailable.  We were referred to the Point Piper marina at Rose Bay, but when we called the port captain, he did not know how deep it was at his own diesel dock.  We were quite amazed at that, but we figured we’d head over and get a look-see for ourselves. 

As we entered the fairway, we noticed that most of the dock was occupied by power boats … that’s usually a sign of shallow water since power boats have much shallower draft than displacement boats.  I yelled to some guys on the dock and they were not optimistic about our chances of clearing the bottom at the diesel dock.  As they were giving me a rash of shit about my All Blacks fleece, the wind caught the bow pretty severely and everybody scrambled to fend us off of several huge power boats.  One of the guys suggested the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron near the Opera House, so we set off back the way we came. 

RSYS was able to accommodate us, and we filled one of our two tanks with diesel in hopes of a cheaper price per liter outside of Sydney Harbor.  Then we went for our final pass through the Harbor, under the bridge, and by the Opera House.  We both felt really sad to be leaving.  As we went through the headlands exiting the fabulousness and safety of Port Jackson, I experienced some post-traumatic stress as well … we were voluntarily going back out onto the Tasman Sea which had beaten us up so badly on our previous passage.  But it was relatively calm.  I was suddenly shaken out of my thoughts by a hearty “G’ Day!”  There was a guy in a kayak right next to us!  We had a quick chat, and then he turned and went back into the Harbor.

The overnight sail was rather uneventful.  The East Australian Current is hard to predict and a very big consideration since it can be extremely strong.  It runs in a southerly direction, oftentimes up to 3-4 knots.  Since we’re going north, we will normally assume adverse current, but there are eddies where the current reverses direction.  The current effect is less pronounced closer to land, so that was our passage strategy.  And yes, we have been looking for Nemo!

We arrived at the Newcastle approach about two hours before dawn, so we puttered around in circles until the sun came up.  And since it was dawn, I was obviously on watch.  Right at first light, at least 20 freighters set off to sea all heading in various directions.  It was pretty neat.

I woke Andy up and we began our approach between the massive breakwaters into the well protected harbor in Newcastle.  We easily found the marina, tied up, checked in, had some breakfast, and settled in for a nap.

Eavesdropping at the Yacht Club and Off to Rugby League

Posted by: melissa

After our nap yesterday, we realized that the Newcastle Knights were playing the Canberra Raiders in rugby league that evening, and we felt pretty good and recovered enough from the passage to go out.  Andy bought tickets online, and we set off.

First, we went to the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for an adult beverage.  It’s a very nice place, and chock full of local boaters.  Andy and I were eavesdropping on the conversation going on at the table behind us.  They were in a heated discussion about the Gold Coast and how it is culture-free.  We hear this a lot, and of course, the same criticisms are frequently made about the United States.  And I think it’s all pretty harsh.  I mean think about it … places like Sydney and Los Angeles are just never going to be Rome or Istanbul, but that doesn’t mean that they’re culture-free. 

In a way, Australia has a much better excuse than the United States.  Captain Cook and the Endeavor landed in 1770, but the First Fleet didn’t arrive until 1788, and that was for the penal colony.  Plus, Australia is far more remote than the U.S., especially by the standards of early days.  And, exploration and travel across Australia was far harsher than the experiences of American settlers moving west.  To this day, large parts of Australia are still uninhabitable even with technological advances. 

Newcastle Knights Super Fan -- and much warmer rugby league spectator!

Newcastle Knights Super Fan -- and much warmer rugby league spectator!

My point is that I think Australia has evolved into a very distinct culture given its youth as a society and its many geographical and topographical challenges.  As we further eavesdropped, one guy tried to make the point that China has no real culture either, just a long-standing civilization.  I still haven’t figured out what that craziness actually meant or what it has to do with Gold Coast, but I thought it was pretty amusing.      

We then went next door to have a bite at the local restaurant which happens to be one of the best in Newcastle, and it was really good.  We hopped into a taxi and headed out to the ground.  I immediately realized that I was going to be too cold, so we swung by the team shop and I instantly became a Newcastle Knights super fan by double bill-boarding with hat and scarf.  After a convincing Knights victory, we cabbed it home, had dessert and decaf at the local, and went to bed.  Tomorrow we’ll rent a car and head out to the Hunter Valley wine country.

Off to Hunter Valley

Posted by: melissa

I woke up fairly early and headed out to get a flat white takeaway and rent a car.  Unfortunately, the Europcar office conveniently located about a block away from the marina is closed on Sundays.  I returned to the boat, jumped on the internet, and found a reasonably priced car available at the airport. 

I failed to note the location of the airport, however, and after a taxi ride where I wondered if the driver was actually taking us out to a deserted pasture to rob us and kill us, we finally arrived to the tune of a $60 fare.  We got the rental car, started driving, and while looking at the map and the road signs, we were overcome by suspicion of a taxi scam.  Oh well, live and learn.  At the very least, Europcar is letting us return at the local rental office so we don’t have to endure another cab ride to oblivion.

Hunter Valley is the wine producing area of New South Wales.

Hunter Valley is the wine producing area of New South Wales.

The road to Cessnock, the jumping off point for the Hunter Valley wine country, is rural.  We got lost several times, and the signage is pretty bad … none of those huge and reflecting traffic signs with bunches of grapes to show you the way.  Most importantly, we were really hungry having skipped breakfast and then stuck in the taxi. 

After passing several Macca’s (the Australian nickname for McDonald’s) and Hungry Jack’s (the Australian Burger King), we came across a couple of small take-out cafes that were just too sketchy to venture into.  I’m not being stuck up, but I just can’t eat a sausage roll from an establishment called Smelly’s, and the thought of out-station Australian Chinese food was just too much to bear.  We finally happened upon a hotel pub and restaurant, and ordered soup and chicken fingers thinking it to be fairly safe.  Unfortunately, the chicken wasn’t cooked all the way through – seriously, how can you screw up chicken fingers?  We left still hungry but armed with plenty of jokes about our upcoming bout with salmonella.

We drove into, and promptly out of, the rather charm-free Cessnock within a few minutes and missed the tourist office all together.  After a rough day so far, wine-tasting was exactly what we needed!  So Andy directed us to the nearest cellar door…


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