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The Hynes Honeymoon!
Happy New Year!!!
12/31/2009, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Author: Seth Hynes
Picture: The Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge at midnight. CLICK HERE for more pictures of the day's events.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! It's still a little strange, but we have already had our New Year's Eve celebration and will probably fully recover before the rest of the US gets down to celebrating. But at least we get to post a great picture on the 31st of December for most of you...

As could be expected, we had an amazing day. We started early by anchoring in Farm Cove at 8am, which we knew would become the boating equivalent of Times Square by midnight. And we were right. By 6pm the anchorage was packed with all shapes and sizes of boats and we found ourselves lucky to have a pretty safe zone around us. At 8pm the parade of boats went by as Roger (from La Palapa) served up a shrimp cocktail. At 9pm the "kids fireworks" went off, which were so amazing it would easily have qualified for any other cities main event. We then threw four steaks on the grill and washed it down with an excellent Australian Shiraz. Our anticipation was kept captive on the hour by short blasts of fireworks. And the wait was worth it.

At midnight a local radio station counted down to midnight and the music coordinated show started. And the whole city erupted. Literally.

Fireworks went up into the sky from the harbor barges, islands, opera house, bridge and even from buildings in the city skyline. The whole city was alight and the show went on forever. The bridge stole the show with its two towers illuminated, a LED screen in the middle and an enormous amount of fireworks both rocking up and dropping down to the water. The grand finale was so large the smoke from all the fireworks filled the sky and all you could make out was a glowing and thundering cloud of smoke. It was simply amazing...

Happy New Year World!

Sydney to Hobart
12/29/2009, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Author: Seth
Picture: The start of the Sydney to Hobart Sailboat Race, where the boat ICAP crossed the line first. Despite the terrible conditions, it was a spinnaker start on the line and Elizabeth (in blue) and my Mom (in yellow) were out to witness it...

We had a great Christmas week with my family on board. In total, we sailed around the bay, opened presents moored in a national park, saw a show at the Opera House, visited the Art Gallery of New South Whales and went to many amazing fine restaurants. But the highlight of the week had to have been witnessing the start of the Sydney to Hobart sailboat race.

If you know anything about sailboat racing, you know about the 630 mile race from Sydney to Hobart. For those of you unfamiliar, it can only be described as the pinnacle of off-shore racing. Hundreds of boats participate, including some of the world's fastest and most expensive yachts. There is usually a North American entry or two, but this is mostly all about Australia versus New Zealand, and down here they take their sailboat racing very seriously.

The favored (and local favorite) was an Australian Maxi Yacht (100 feet long) called Wild Oats XI. This particular boat won the race the past four years and were the strong favorite for this year's race, but it wasn't meant to be as the New Zealand favorite (Alfa Romeo) crushed them and took line honors.

Aboard Honeymoon, we watched the chaos ensue. No further than 50 meters past the starting line, we sat defending our position on the line between two massive passenger ferrys and a few smaller water taxis as we watched the start. Then, as soon as the fleet of hundreds past the starting line we were off, racing at full speed with all the spectator boats toward the harbor entrance where the racing yachts were headed. It was a sport unto itself, avoiding collisions in order to see who took the lead.

Despite Alfa Romeo's daring strategy to cut in front of the pack before the official start, it was the maxi boat ICAP that crossed the starting line first, claiming starting honors over the two favorites. But Alfa Romeo was second, and Wild Oats third. As they passed the starting line, all the boats hoisted their spinnakers, making for a colorful start despite the rain.

It was a great thing to witness, and was certainly a highly of the week. If not the year...

Merry Christmas!!!
12/25/2009, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Picture: Here we see the Hynes family ready to rip open some presents! Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Disaster Strikes Twice???
12/25/2009, Sydney, NSW, Australia

No, thankfully this is NOT Honeymoon. But it is a good reminder of what we have to be thankful for. We might have had a "disaster" the other day, but it could have been much, much worse. Just imagine coming back to your boat and finding this sight?! Yikes!

Disater Strikes
12/23/2009, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Picture: Honeymoon's Port Rudder after the grounding.

On Tuesday we dropped our normally reliable anchor (a 55 lbs Delta and 5 lbs swivel) into 8 feet of mud and pulled back on her to help it set. With over 70 feet out we had more than enough scope and we felt a firm hold so we settled in for the night. In the morning the winds picked up to 20 knots and we stayed on board until noon, at which point we finally left the boat for our daily excursion into town...

Unfortunately, the very minute we left the boat it started to drag anchor. Although we had been in that spot for more than 15 hours and knew that the anchor had been set, we were not more than 20 minutes away when I got a call from someone in the harbor that our boat was on the shore. At first it was too hard to believe and we thought they might be mistaken. What were the chances that our boat would drag the exact second we left it? But as we hurriedly returned to the boat we saw the truth. In a very un-familiar sight, our boat was up on the beach, stern facing the wind and our American flag pointing toward the bow.

We were pinned on the shore and needed outside help - immediately. We hailed our friends on Victory Cat and Nemesis and VC arrived first to pull us off. To help protect the rudders, we threw them a 50-foot dock line tied to our stern cleat to pull us off backwards, and without much of a pull at all we were floating again.

We quickly assessed the condition of the boat as we motored toward a nearby anchorage. The steering felt normal. We checked for leaking water into the bilge and for a trace of oil in our wake. My worst fear was that our sail-drive transmission had been knocked free and that we were pumping transmission fluid into the bay, but miraculously the rudder helped protect it. After re-anchoring I dove on the bottom and surveyed the damage with a camera.

Although it could have been worse, the damage was significant. A rock must have hit the rudder as it has noteworthy scaring in the gel coat and the rear corner has been shorn off. The keel looked better, but also had a quarter sized knick in it and a few other scratches. Thankfully the hull itself looked to be in good condition and although a repair would be needed soon, it was not going to require an emergency haul out. I spoke to the new owner about what happened and thankfully he is a man of patience. I'm not quite certain I would have been as composed as him upon learning that my new boat had been washed ashore, but he's a very nice man and felt confident that we would fix the problem before final delivery (which of course, we will). It's going to be expensive, but thankfully no one was hurt, nothing outside of our boat was broken and the damage to our boat was nothing to warrant immediate concern.

The only thing still troubling us is just how exactly this happened. We have thoroughly examined what we could have done to avoid this, but nothing comes to mind. I guess we could have put out a second anchor as a security back-up, but in a year at sea this had never happened. The anchor is over-sized for our boat and a trustworthy design. We had more than enough scope out and the wind direction never changed. Perhaps this is the most unsettling part of all - we have no idea why we dragged, we just did. I guess there is such a thing as luck and our just finally ran out.

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Seth & Elizabeth Hynes
Who: Seth & Elizabeth Hynes
Port: San Francisco, CA
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