Monthly Archives: February 2011

Snapshots of an Ocean Queen

Stepping up to see the grand lady

A holiday on a cruise ship really isn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps when I’m ninety five and other options are becoming less accessible. However, I have nothing against those whose cup of tea it is, and I have to confess when one of the really grand Cunard vessels visits Sydney I can’t resist tripping down there to soak up the nautical magnificence that only a grand ocean liner can conjure, not to mention the people watching that goes with it. To my delight there were nautical stripes, deck shoes and gold braid aplenty as well as a few dinstiguished gents in blazers and panamas. Spiffing.  Rather than view the grand lady leaving through a pair of binos from a lofty harbourside lookout I chose to get up close and personal, if only so I could get that tingly feeling when she blows her horn right in your ear. Harriet’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. Here’s some snaps that resulted from a couple of pleasant hours loitering Quayside.

It was an overcast grey morning, but the colours worked well and the weather brought a certain Britishness to the occasion, as if any more was required!

Tidy Lines

This was one of several smartly dressed gentleman who looked like they’d just stepped out of an episode of “Goodnight Sweetheart”; trilby’s, panamas and blazers, and completely oblivious to the mad woman stalking them with pram and camera.

Taking a look

In the fifteen minutes leading up to her departure, rather disoncertingly there was a man playing the theme song to “Titanic” on the panpipes, which he followed up with “Time to Say Goodbye” . And say goodbye she did; with several honks on her horn she glided gracefully away from the Quay and out into the harbour.

The lady leaves

 Here’s the rest in a gallery. Bon Voyage!

Whats your bag baby? This is mine….

Oppie Origins

Various members of my family have a reputation for their “bag lady” tendencies. I am certainly no exception and my three year old is displaying similar behaviours. When I say bags, I’m not talking about designer Chanel numbers or a glittery Nicole Ritchie-esque shoulder suitcase. I’m talking about “proper job” kit bags. The kind you can take to the beach, stuff a wetsuit in, take on a picnic or keep useful bits and bobs in. The kind of bags in which you’d find a pocket knife, hair bands, bits of string, wet wipes and a waterproof tide table. If your sunblock explodes you can just wash it out and hang it on the line.

Over Christmas I added  another bag to my collection and am so chuffed with my purchase that I have decided to share the love here.  Sails in the City make tough but stylish bags from recycled sail cloth:

” Sails that have crossed oceans or travelled around the world, sails that have raced and won regattas, sails that have taught kids how to harness the wind, sails from big yachts and little dinghies. Each sail is carrying a piece of history and salty experience.”

Whilst making bags out of sails is not a new concept, we usually don’t get to find out about the origins of the cloth . The one I bought is made from an old Optimist (Oppie) sail from the Kerikeri Cruising Yacht Club. I love the fact that my bag was involved in the development of a young sailor and it also reminds me of some happy times with my dad, who lives in Kerikeri for much of the year. I like the fact that its made from recycled materials but it still feels like a new and exciting product. Each bag is unique.

If you have old sails you can donate them to the cause or have them made into something for your own use; bags, wallets, beanbags, hammocks, deckchairs, just use your imagination. In fact Reg and I were given some brand new sails for our 16 foot skiff as a wedding present, so when they have done their service maybe we could have some new curtains for the lounge?….Have you got a favourite kit bag for your boating bits and bobs?

My Top Ten Tips: Reflections on Secret Water One Year On

Rhubarb reflecting

Fifty posts, one hundred followers and a gorgeous new addition to our family later I am now celebrating exactly one year since my first blog post. Its been quite a year. Reflecting on the last twelve months I wonder if I achieved what I set out to? Committing to writing about my adventures has definitely motivated me to get out on the boat whenever we get the chance. With small children I have often been tempted to stick it in the “too hard basket” but with some convincing from Reg I have hit the water and (mostly) never regretted it.

When I first started writing I assumed that the biggest challenge would be coming up with interesting topics to blog about but unfortunately my list of ideas has been far greater than the time I have available to explore them.

I also correctly predicted a dip in blogging activity around the arrival of Jones baby number two. No matter how adventurous you think you are, most of the time, tiny babies, small, open aluminium boats and winter weather are not a successful mix. Instead I spent a couple of cosy months indoors getting to know my new little crew member and telling her about all the wonderful adventures we had planned for her.

On the whole I think I have ticked off most of the intentions on my original list; tinny tracks, beautiful things, useful things, Rhubarbs dog blog, guest blogs, beaches and “fin fur and feathers”. Food and fishing probably took a back seat and I will try harder on those this year. With the exception of our recent trip to New Zealand we didn’t even pick up a fishing rod; we soon realised that simultaneously wrestling a crayfish and a toddler whilst standing in a tinny is an unwinnable challenge which will surely result in tears. But you never know, we might catch something this year if we can get our act together.

What have I learned from my year on the water? Here’s my top ten reflections on a year of boats and babies:

  • No matter how cold the water is when you jump in, you will never regret it. Chickening out on a dip in the briny always leaves a bad taste in your mouth
  • “The house is too messy and there’s too much washing to be done” is a pointless excuse for not getting on a boat; when you’re out on the water you can’t see the mess and besides, it can’t get any messier when you are not there
  • Always take loads of food; there’s nothing as frustrating as stumbling across the perfect secret picnic spot and having nothing to sustain you but a packet of salty sultanas and a bottle of water with toddler saliva in it.

Don't leave home without your thermos!

  • Expend the same amount of effort applying sun screen to yourself as you do to your kids
  • Sort your kit out the night before; you get to spend more time on the water and you know what they say about the early bird…
  • Put carpet in the bottom of your tinny, its much kinder on the paws

Pampered pooch

  • Don’t get out of an anchored tinny when you are seven months pregnant; you won’t be able to get back in again
  • Just occasionally, be content to leave the camera in its case and just suck up the moment
  • Don’t make yourself rules about what age/temperament/mood/shoe size is the perfect one to take kids/husband/friends/dog out on the water. Everyone’s different and with kids you get good days and bad days, keep an open mind, decide on the day and use your common sense to stay safe

Built for comfort...

  • Last but not least….have fun; after all, a bad day on the water is still better than a good day in the office!

Have fun

One of the most pleasant surprises of the last twelve months has been that blogging has not become a chore. Recording my adventures has given me the photography bug and Secret Water is growing in a direction that I hadn’t planned. I recently selected a few of my favourite and more print worthy images and have started to create handmade cards…with a twist…so on that I will keep you posted…

Coming to a shop near you...

I intend to keep blogging about my on the water adventures so I would love your feedback; what did you like? What didn’t you like? What would you like? It would also be fantastic if you posted photos and details of your own adventures on the facebook page.

May 2011 be a safe and sunny year on the water for you and your family.

Up Muddy Creek without a Paddle

playing pooh sticks

Well actually we did have a paddle but just for emergencies and as we turned the last bend in the creek we cut the motor and drifted quietly to a halt. The put put noise of the engine was now replaced by the intermittent deafening sound of cicadas, or “avacadas” as they have come to be referred in our house, along with “mermalades” (mermaids) and seaweeds (seeds in mandarins).

Although not her first time in a boat, this was Hattie’s first trip in the tinny. Rhubarb stayed at home just to minimise the potential chaos on board.

The entrance to muddy creek just across from Swallow Rock is easy to miss and you’d only get all the way up there in a tinnie or a kyack.  You need to go at high tide and we chose a cool, still overcast day for Hattie’s first outing.

We were rewarded for our peaceful drift up the last few metres by what I think was a water dragon sitting on a rock trying to pretend he wasnt there…..

If I can't see you...you can't see me

…and whilst sitting giving Hattie some lunch I saw the speedy orange and blue flash of a kingfisher zoom past, way to quick for me to catch on film.

Tea break

At the end of the creek are some large sandstone rocks which if you can batt away a bit of foliage you can walk through to some beautiful paddling pools and filled by slow flowing waterfalls as a result of recent heavy rains. A quick trip up muddy creek saw us only a few hundered metres from the boat ramp, but once you are around the bend, hidden by the gum trees and having a good brain cleansing courtesy of the avacadas, you could be a million miles from anywhere.

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