I know I’ve been quiet – well, slack is really the truth – but it’s time to begin again being a new year and all that, so here goes! (It’s not that we haven’t been sailing for the past 12 months or so…)
The end of a year is always hectic. Wrapping everything up at work for the year and getting ready to celebrate Christmas, but also getting ready for our summer sailing trip. After our first Christmas without Ben (our youngest went overseas on his own to experience an English Christmas!), our 19th Christmas in the Mall (hot), the usual Stoneman Family Boxing Day BBQ at ours (raining!) and a lovely time with our house-guests (Gayelene, our best and oldest family friend from Sydney, with her two boys Jordan and Trent, and a new addition, Molly, from Chicago!) we embarked, the two of us with Susan, Derek’s older sister, and motored out of the Derwent River under lowering grey skies on Thursday 29th December.
As usual we were going against the flow of boat traffic. The middle placed yachts of the Sydney to Hobart were coming up the river to the finish line, and the river was buzzing with spectator craft. We passed close to three or four 40 to 50 footers, and gave them a congratulatory wave, before we rounded the Iron Pot and headed east towards Fredrick Henry Bay. This year the lead maxi-yachts shredded the previous race record to bits, as they enjoyed perfect racing conditions – a brisk northerly the whole way down. We had visited the waterfront to have a look at the line-honours winner Perpetual Loyal – a row of empty champagne bottles proudly displayed on deck! – and the other maxis before we left. Looking at the size of everything – the huge winches, long prod, tall mast, and the width of the boat to negotiate when tacking (a daunting climb if you’re late and the boat is heeling over!) it’s interesting to imagine racing on board these huge boats. Note that my imagination is enough – I don’t feel the need to actually experience a Sydney-Hobart race!
In our 40 foot cruising yacht, we motor-sailed behind Betsey Island and across Fredrick Henry Bay to a little beach around the corner from Dunbabin Point, close to Murdunna. The tide was way out as we came in to anchor. A tinnie had been abandoned on the sand flats near a couple of shacks and later we watched as a couple of blokes wheeled their boat trailer gingerly across the flats to retrieve it. We had a peaceful evening of curry and cards as we waited for the full tide in the morning to make our way through the Dunalley Canal and out to the east coast.