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The Voyage of Spectacle Australia

The Voyage


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 the ‘Australia’ Category

Australia’s Pub Culture and Mate’s Night Out

Posted by: melissa

On Monday, our new BFFs, Nick and Jacquelyne had just come back from Nick’s brother’s graduation festivities in Perth, and so we invited them out for a fancy dinner to say thanks for taking such great care of us and being such great friends to us.  We had a lovely dinner at Universal with the usual cocktails, wine, hysterical laughing, and cutting up that has become typical of our get-togethers. 

Universal is a relatively new and highly esteemed restaurant that offers smaller dishes … not smaller as in there are 10 courses so each course needs to be small, but three “too-small-to-be-shared” courses plus dessert is recommended.  The food borders on “experimental” and as such, some courses were better than others.  My biggest criticism is that the restaurant feels a little too hip for its own good.  It’s very modern and minimalist with orange ambient light and house music, but the funniest affectation was the description of the menu.  Since you choose several smaller-sized courses, there are no appetizers and secondis and mains per se.  Instead, as was explained to us, the dishes are ordered sequentially based on “palate weight.” 

Now, Andy, in particular, and Andy and I together, have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world.  Andy reads about food, wine, chefs, gastronomy, new techniques, and restaurants very often.  Both Nick and Jacqueline are very foody people, and are quite plugged into the Sydney restaurant culture.  None of us has ever heard of “palate weight” before.  I found it to be needlessly poncy, but excellent fodder for endless jokes.

In any event, good fun was had by all!  Unfortunately, Nick had to go to work the next day, so he had, ahem, significantly less fun that the rest of us!  As such, Nick and Andy made plans for some male bonding for tonight, so I probably won’t be seeing much of Andy tomorrow!

I must say, though, that pub culture and mate’s night out are two of my favorite parts of Australian life.  I simply love that adult men in Australia regularly go out to the pub with their male friends.  Mate’s night out sometimes revolves around sports, but not always.  Mostly, they just talk and enjoy catching up over a pint.  The female significant others are not jealous or threatened by it, and they have their own friends and schedules.  Children understand that adults have lives of their own, and that the world does not revolve around their rearing and their schedules.  No one feels pangs of Puritanical guilt that they should instead be checking items off of their to-do list in their busy busy busy lives.  They are simply enjoying a beer and more importantly, nurturing interpersonal relationships, and everything else can wait.  American men could learn from this practice.

Happy Independence Day from the Southern Hemisphere

Posted by: melissa

Of course, it’s just a regular day here in Australia!  Nevertheless, being in a colonial country with not only independence from, but a certain amount of historical animosity towards, British colonialism, we can all relate a little!

I’ve been spending a lot less time at my home away from home … the Internet café in Kings Cross.  But I headed over there today to catch up on some Internet stuff and have lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  I think it’s called Tapatio but I honestly can’t remember.  It’s pretty good … kind of a Chipotle concept, the Subway of burritos basically. 

Walking around the Cross is, to quote Forrest Gump, like a box of chocolates … ya’ nevah know what you’re gonna git.  Not surprisingly, Friday dusk is the best as the party is just getting started.  But today is Saturday, and Saturday mornings are usually bad … everyone’s hung over, coming down, cold, hungry, haggard, and tired.  The highlight of my day in the Cross today was an extremely intoxicated street person who kept yelling nonsense and stopping traffic.  Usually giving the residents a wide berth, the cops showed up and as they wrestled him to the ground to handcuff him and take him away, he started belting out the Star Spangled Banner at the top of his lungs.  He was doing pretty well too, until “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” and then it all just fell apart.  I placed my hand over my heart, and wished myself a very Happy 4th of July!

And because I was so impressed that a drunk homeless guy knew the Star Spangled Banner and the significance of today’s date, I looked up and memorized the Australian national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. 

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
 We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Getting Ready to Say Goodbye

Posted by: melissa

We’re working hard to get ready to leave Sydney, and it’s very difficult since we like it here so much.  I could easily live here.  But we’ve got a good weather window coming up, so it’s time to get going.

After checking three different chandleries, I finally located a shackle for the headsail that will probably be acceptable.  It’s not perfect, but it should do fine.  This shackle attaches the top of the headsail to the furling drum.  The shackle needs to be sufficiently strong; the pin needs to be small enough to fit into its slot in the furling drum; and it needs to be big enough to contain the loop of the sail which is quite bulky.  Unfortunately, gusty winds are forecasted for today and tomorrow, so we’ll have to delay hoisting and refurling the headsail until we get some lighter conditions. 

The sail loft was successful in repairing the staysail, and will be returning it on Monday.  I don’t know how much it will cost since the secretary has “gone crook,” which in Australian English means that she’s sick.  Two cultures separated by a common language, as they say!

We hired a rigger to go up the mast and follow up on the furling drum that I was unable to retrieve.  He tightened the connections on the forestay sleeve, and the furling drum just slid right down exactly as it was supposed to.  He also removed and brought down the burned out bulbs of the tri-color and anchor lights so I could buy new ones.  He also confirmed my suspicions that the forestay was a bit too loose, and he tightened up the backstays.  Unfortunately, the backstays are adjusted as tightly as the adjustable backstay can be tightened, so if we need to tighten more in the future, a more significant rigging change will be required.

The refrigerator guys have dropped the ball so egregiously that we’re beginning to think that they just didn’t want to take the work in the first place.  This happens in areas where there are a lot of really nice yachts.  Apparently, the refrigerator job is either too small, or not small enough.  It might be too small in that the opportunity cost of delaying a job on super yacht is too high.  Or, the complexity of our refrigerator problem makes the job not small enough … they don’t see an easy 3-billable-hour solution so they don’t want to waste time figuring it out, especially when I will resist paying a guy to take it all apart and stare at it like it’s from outer space.  Hopefully, we’ll find someone more motivated and less expensive by the hour to take a look at it somewhere up the coast.

I was a little disappointed in the trimming guy as well.  I see him around the marina very frequently and he’s always walking fast and frantic as if he’s late for a big deadline.  He said that he would have a quote for me weeks ago, and he finally delivered it yesterday.  I would see him in passing and he would promise to meet me in an hour or first thing tomorrow morning or whatever, and he would never show up.  So, too bad for him.  I’m not going to beg him to take my business if he won’t show up when he says he’ll show up.  Well, for cosmetic work anyhow.  If I need a diesel repairman, I beg.

Otherwise, everything is fairly cleaned up and ready to go.  We just mailed a huge box of books home which freed up some storage space.  I purchased paper charts from Port Jackson to Brisbane.  I made a reservation at the marina in Newcastle.  I need to return our borrowed space heater and extension cord.  Pay the marina bill.  And that’s about it.

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.

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