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The Voyage of Spectacle Sydney

The Voyage


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

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Bali, Indonesia

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The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Sydney’ Category

Spectacle in Sydney — Day 1

Posted by: melissa

 The alarm went off and we were all really dragging.  That little tease of sleep wasn’t totally satisfying, but after a caffeinated beverage, a slightly less intense adrenalin-high kicked in to assist us through this day.  We moved the boat over to Rushcutters Bay to the D’Albora Marina.  Once we arrived and tied to the dock, I suddenly became obsessed with bathing … a hot shower was my mission in life.  So we packed up the shower bag and headed up to the office to get the key to the facilities when the quarantine guy showed up.  He delivered a minor admonishment for leaving the boat without clearing quarantine, and I didn’t care.  I said something to the effect of:  “I haven’t showered in over 9 days so I need you to clear me and my person immediately because I am going to the shower right now.” 

Andy stayed with the quarantine guy as he looked for potential dangers, organic material, and introduced species.  His services cost AUS $416 making this the most expensive check-in process we’ve ever experienced.  He indicated that a good chunk of the charge was overtime to come on a Sunday.  We could’ve avoided overtime rates by staying on the boat until Monday morning, but that just wasn’t in the cards.  And he did take out all of the garbage in a fancy trash bag with official “Danger” and “Quarantine” stencils on it.  Whatever.  I didn’t care as I was luxuriating in a hot shower! 

Icebergs at Bondi Beach

Icebergs at Bondi Beach

As it turns out, Andy’s close friend from Mizzou was visiting Sydney on business travel from Bangkok, where he now lives and works.  As we pulled into the marina, Jason was waiting for us with hot flat whites and wow that was the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had!  After we cleaned up a little, we jumped in a cab and headed over to Icebergs, the famous restaurant with sweeping views of Bondi Beach.  We had a fabulous lunch with plenty of wine, and experienced the same “land sickness” episodes that we usually experience at our first onshore meal.  I started to relax a little, but I still felt like I was running pretty high on adrenalin.

After lunch, the boys went to check out the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia which is right next door to our marina.  The CYCA sponsors the annual Sydney to Hobart race which is both famous and infamous.  Since we had just crossed the Tasman, we were feeling a special affinity towards those brave enough to take on sailing in those latitudes!  Additionally, tenants at D’Albora Rushcutters are welcome to the private bar and restaurant so I’m sure we’ll be taking advantage of that in the future!  I, on the other hand, went for a relaxing lay down with my book.

Soon it was time to get up and eat again!  There’s so much great stuff to do in Sydney, and with Ryan on his last day, and Jason in town to visit, we were eager to get to it! 

We hopped in a taxi and went to an area called The Rocks which is right on the Bay and across from the Opera House and Harbor Bridge.  It’s a very cool part of town with all sorts of outdoor bars and restaurants and people milling around, so we decided to sit down and have an adult beverage.  We happened to be there during the Luminous Festival, and Sydneysiders were treated to huge, high-powered light shows with the Opera House as the canvas.  It was absolutely stunning and mesmerizing. 

Finished with cocktail hour, we headed to dinner at Quay, which is considered one of the very best restaurants in Australia.  It’s perfectly located also across from the Opera House so our viewing of the light show continued all evening.  The food was amazing, the wine was exquisite, and the company was fabulous … a truly magical night and a far cry from fighting the elements in the Tasman Sea!

Getting Back to Normal Means Boat Work

Posted by: melissa

We said “Goodbye” to Ryan yesterday evening, and then went out for pizza and beer with Jason.  He stayed on the boat with us last night, and was off to the airport early this morning.  And so Andy and I are left by ourselves with our thoughts.  We both still don’t really know what to think about the passage.  Every time we tell the story, some new detail comes out or some new emotion bubbles to the surface.  It doesn’t help that we both still feel very tired.  It’s hard to sleep soundly after a passage anyway because you’re so used to sleeping in 3-4 hour increments depending on the watch schedule, but adjusting this time is proving especially difficult.  I think we are both suffering from an adrenalin hangover of sorts, and coming down is a real bitch.  The whole experience feels quite surreal.

One way to shake such a strange feeling is to get back to normal things, and for me, that means boat work and check lists.  First on the list is dealing with the head sail.  It needs a new shackle for the halyard, but unfortunately, the halyard and furling drum did not come down the forestay when we dropped the headsail at sea, so someone will need to go up the mast to retrieve it.  The furling line is looking a little haggard as well so I’ll look into replacing that while we’re at it.  The staysail blew out completely.  It seriously looks like it was shot with a shotgun, but the sail loft thinks it may be repairable and will pick it up later today.

I’m also going to find someone to service the autopilot.  If you’re a boat person, or if you follow our travels or the travels of any other cruiser, you realize the importance of the autopilot.  During the crossing, poor old Otto was working really really hard against that huge, following, Tasman swell, and he was making some pretty sad noises.  It was also making a “thunk” noise as if it was slamming into something when turning sharply and completely to port.  Whatever’s happening, it can’t be good.  The loss of the autopilot was a secret fear for the entire crew, but never articulated out loud in an effort to keep everyone’s stress level as low as possible.

At some point during the crossing, a loose jib sheet was whipping around and whacked a big hole in the plastic window of the dodger.  The boat trim guy will come by later this week, and I’ll probably get a quote to re-do the bed cushions as well. 

Additionally, we have a ton of exterior lights that are burned out – anchor light, tri-color, starboard deck light, and starboard running light.  Other than that, I would like to hire someone to help me scrub the deck, work on rust removal, polish all the metal, and sand and oil the teak.  Bayswater Marina in Auckland was a stickler on not allowing exterior boat work, so much of the deck desperately needs attention.

Going Up the Mast

Posted by: melissa

As I mentioned, the furling drum did not come down the forestay when we dropped the halyard on the headsail, and as such, someone needed to go up the mast to retrieve it.  I suspect there’s something wrong up there since theoretically, it should be weighted enough to slide down on its own. 

Going up the mast is a boat task that is simultaneously mundane and terrifying.  You attach a seat, called a bosun’s chair, to the mainsail (or spinnaker) halyard, and use a winch to lift the seated person just as you would raise a sail.  Intellectually, it’s easy to understand that the load on a huge sail, in big wind, involving a 69-foot mast, far exceeds your body weight.  But you just can’t help but wonder if this might be the one instance that the shackle fails.  I was especially thinking this since I was going up the mast because of a failed shackle, but whatever.  And yes, I volunteered to go up the mast because in a way, running the winch is far more nerve-racking … the ascent isn’t that bad as the winch does all the work and there’s a brake preventing the line from feeding out should the winch fail or slip.  But, on the descent, that brake is open, and the line is manually let out.   

I’m not afraid of heights and I didn’t find the whole experience particularly scary, but the very top of the mast is fairly unnerving.  Past the highest set of spreaders, there’s nothing really to hold on to except for the big tree trunk of a mast that I wrapped my legs around.  And it’s weird to see the halyard, with which you’re being hoisted, become so short and then feed into the mast. 

Once I was up to the spreaders or so, I pulled extra slack of the headsail halyard out of the mast, and swung out to the forestay to inspect the furling drum.  That was a pretty strange sensation, but really, holding onto the forestay really freaked me out because it’s pretty loose, that is to say, definitely not as rigid as the mast.  The furling drum was definitely stuck, and no amount of muscle or slack in the halyard would budge it.  One of the connecting points on the forestay’s sleeve appeared to have some bolts sticking out that have loosened themselves. 

I reported down to Andy that the furling drum would not come down, and that I didn’t have the tools to try to fix it.  As such, he lowered me slowly down, and I was a snit for the rest of the day because he forgot to take my picture while I was up there.  Dammit!

Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales

Posted by: melissa

The wifi in the marina is pretty unstable, and I have a lot of high bandwidth projects that need to get done.  As such, my last chore on the shaky wifi was to find an Internet café that I can walk to.  The closest was in the Sydney neighborhood called Kings Cross, which is the red light district.  This part of town is on a fairly large hill, so historically, wealthy settlers moved up the ridge away from the city slums and waterfront squalor.  Kings Cross developed into a pretty snazzy neighborhood, but as always, slums spread and the rich migrate to the suburbs.  By the 1920s, Kings Cross earned a bohemian reputation providing safe haven for artists, immigrants, and drifters.  Pubs, clubs and cabarets started to spring up, and by the 1970s, Kings Cross was a seedy and crime-ridden combination of drug addicts, mob bosses, and prostitutes. 

These days, Kings Cross has been cleaned up quite a bit, and appears to be trending upward.  The iconic symbol of the neighborhood is the huge glowing Coca-Cola sign at the intersection of William and Victoria.  While there are some sketchy pockets, I found the Cross to be very “seedy chic” and pretty much safe in a “just keep your wits about you” way.  There are lots of shady bars, sex shops, massage parlors, and of course, strip clubs, and several are quite humorous … Two Hands Required, the Bada Bing, the Pleasure Chest, the Landing Strip.  One displays a banner out front proclaiming “No NRL Players Allowed.”  The NRL is rugby league, and many rugby league players are notoriously badly behaved while fans and management look the other way.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of street people just milling around.  There’s no mistaking the drug-addicted prostitutes who hook to support their habit … they are very haggard, bruised and battered, and frequently heartbreakingly young.

There’s the occasional odd ray of hope in Kings Cross as well.  There’s a former drug addict turned street-cleaning janitor who walks Darlinghurst Road everyday bidding “G’day” to everyone and tending to those in need.  There’s the famous Russian hawker at one club who has been greeting customers at the door and protecting the strippers employed there for over 30 years.  There’s the alcoholic who sits at the bus stop on the corner of Darlinghurst and Bayswater every single day screaming four-letter-word insults at passersby.  Okay, that’s not the greatest example.  Nevertheless, the Kings Cross neighborhood appears to be improving with the appearance of higher end establishments catering to a normal crowd (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), rather than the street crowd (strip clubs, massage parlors, etc.).

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.

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