Picture: Just a shot of Honeymoon as we sailed by the Sydney Opera House for the first time. What a day to remember!
Picture: New anchorage drinks aboard Honeymoon (just before the 180 degree wind shift that turned this peaceful anchorage into a lee shore).
Although Brisbane may be looked down upon by Sydney-ites, Elizabeth and I certainly warmed to the place. It's filled with parks and public use spaces (including climbing walls, public pools, beaches and gardens with electric BBQs everywhere - how Australian!). But it was also great to meet up with old friends that now call this wonderful city home. We had an excellent sushi dinner with Suzzie, a good friend I met years ago while backpacking in Peru. Then Richard and Laura, friends from Grad School, invited us to their home for a traditional porch side BBQ out in the suburbs. And finally, Tom and Emma, two more friends from England, invited us to their beach side home in Currumbin, a surfing destination on the Gold Coast. And as you can imagine, they didn't have to twist our arms to make us join them.
But then it was time to pay them back for their hospitality and Tom and Emma joined us for a two day journey down the coast to Surfer's Paradise (a seaside town that could be compared to Daytona Beach, but with more skyscrapers). We promised them a joyous cruise, filled with peaceful anchorages, but Peel Island had something else in mind for us. Just as we were going to sleep the wind shifted 180 degrees and put us on a lee shore and with growing seas. We made a run for more protected waters in the dark and were thankful when we finally picked up a mooring ball a good three hours later. Exhausted, we went to bed and all slept like rocks.
Our second day was also eventful, with shallow anchorages everywhere and the near threat of spending the night aground in the mud with an ebbing tide (like our friends on Nemesis almost did) we eventually made it to safety in a beautiful marina just north of Surfer's Paradise. Surely Tom and Emma thought we were mad for taking all these risks, but we tried to reassure them that it was not always this way.
From Surfers we began our final off-shore push. Although still a good 400 miles away, our destination now was Sydney with a few stops in between. Much like the US, it's easy to forget just how big this continent really is and we pushed ourselves to keep going overnight in order to put more of the final leg behind us.
We stopped after 32 hours in Port Macquire, a small seaside town located south of Byron Bay. With the wind still out of the northeast we departed early the next day for Forster, where we tied up to a riverside dock next to all the local fishing boats. Honeymoon was certainly out of her element, so we pushed on again the very next day and have finally arrived in Port Stephans, a bay even larger than Sydney's and just 80 miles to the north. With any luck, we'll be in Broken Bay by the end of the day tomorrow and in Sydney in a week...
Pic: The new home page image on our For Sale Website.
They say that the best and worst day of boat ownership is the day you sell your boat. Although we are not quite moving off her yet, we have found this saying to be extremely true. We are deeply saddened to realize the end of our incredible journey is near, while at the same time we are happy to have been released from the financial burden of owning such a valuable asset. However, if I were to pick a side, I would have to say that overall we are very sad to sell our boat as she has been so good to us. Let's face it - she was our first home!
Thankfully we have sold our boat to quite possibly the nicest man in all of Australia. Mike, the new owner, has agreed to let us finish our journey as planned and will take final delivery of the vessel on January 5th, 2010. This means that Elizabeth and I will be able to finish our South Pacific travels in one of the most spectacular ways possible - by anchoring under the Sydney Harbor Bridge for the New Year's Eve fireworks display. What a way to exit - going out with a bang...
As for our blog, don't worry, we will continue to update it with pictures and video from our Vanuatu and Australia adventures, and might even keep it going as we slowly creep back into our old lives as middle managers in large corporate offices back in San Francisco (wow, doesn't that sound like fun reading!?). So stay tuned, more to come - especially the Chick Cruiser's Guide!!!