Monthly Archives: August 2011

For the Love of a Boat

The Big S

Yesterday a little piece of my heart was taken away. It wasn’t my first born’s first day at school. I didn’t have to take the family dog to the vet. I sold my skiff. You might relate if you have at any point been the owner of one, that some boats take a special place in our hearts, as I aluded to in this recent post. They don’t have to be particularly shiny, classic or even wooden really, although these kind are easy to love.

The little blue sixteen footer was towed back to Middle Harbour yesterday and with it went the last vestiges of pre-family life. It represented for me more carefree days when the working week’s end was punctuated with four hours of salt water blasting, a good dose of sun and more bruises than a stick could poke at you.

My husband and I saved up for this much loved vessel before we got married. In fact if we’d have by passed it althogether we’d probably have been able to afford a wedding sooner. We forfeited a new sofa in lieu of the boat, which we painted blue and called Big Saturday. I’d never sailed skiffs before and spent several seasons standing on its upturned shiny hull admiring the paint job we’d had done instead of an expensive weekend away. In fact our first full new suite of sails was a wedding present from my Uni sailing friends.

On classic Sydney summer days with a 25 knot Nor ” Easter blowing I think of the feeling you get reaching down to Balmoral to the bottom mark, knees buckling at the pull of the kite and the sound of water slapping on the hull as its skips over the wavelets and sometimes a thump as it lands on a big lump of swell. Near misses with sight impaired white haired gents in captain hats on more sedate craft. Ducking a nine year old in a sabot and nearly taking the cap off his head with the tiller extension. Flying through the air when your bowsprit stay breaks downwind and landing head first in the drink.

International 16ft Skiff Regatta

We even took her on a road trip once from Sydney all the way to Geelong, receiving some interesting looks when we pulled up at a vineyard in Gippsland at the end of a muddy dirt track.

The speeds you can can reach in a skiff meant we’d be happy most weekends with a place somewhere between the bottom and the middle of the fleet. That said we had one particularly good season with a few handicap wins that earned us some prize money. Which we spent behind the bar on preso night.

Apart from the many hours of fun I had on that boat, I had as many happy hours on shore with some wonderful people. Skiffs, first designed and built here, are quintessentially Sydney. They made me feel at home in this city, part of a a long established community that still thrives in pockets and nurtures friendship and respect (mostly!) amongst its many members. The cameraderie at Middle Harbour was second to none; as Amelia E. Barr puts it “The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.

So if I am so in love with this boat and those around her why am I selling her? Well she’s been on a trailer at the front of our house for several years, seemingly unloved, certainly unused. Our fellow crew have also got mini me crews of their own too, so rounding up a threesome for a sail has become harder. Better then that she goes to a good home with some whipper snappers,  while we are at swimming school teaching the girls essential skills for righting capsized boats.

Thanks for the memories little blue boat. Do you have an all time favourite boat? Or some last vestige of pre-family days that you struggled to let go of like me?

If you’re not familiar with skiffs, here’s what you’ve been missing :)

16 Foot Skiffs past and present (Courtesy of Belmont 16 Footers and soundtrack by Midnight Oil)

Friday Photo: Stormy Weather (Through a Porthole)

A slightly different Friday ritual, following the lead of Linda from Journey Jottings 

Stormy Weather

 Shot from West Manly just past the aquarium. Edited using the Camera Bag App (Fisheye).

Been a bit bleak on the weather and tinny front lately but hope to bring you some images from the Boat show and the results of the photography competition over the next few days. Happy weekend all :)

Swapping Trash for Treasure

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of fantastic blogs by other ladies (and gents) who are in a similar phase of parenthood to me. They write very honestly about their various trials and tribulations, warts and all, which got me feeling just a little bit fraudulent. I’ve always tried to keep my blog fairly easy on the eye by including nice photos and encouraging tales from the outdoors. In this post I’m going to write the warts and all version of today’s expedition to a slightly less accessible beach with a three year old and one year old on the hip. Hopefully it will still be an encouraging tale. So here it is.

This morning I contemplated for a millisecond the thought of cleaning up this…..

But opted instead to head for this…..

It felt like a bit of a mission to be heading into the depths of the Royal National Park, not quite being able to remember whether it was pramable down to the sand or not. I was glad in the end that I packed the kiddie carrier as it was a bit steep and rough even for the mountain buggy. Just as I’d lugged myself, a 12 kilo one year old and all our paraphernalia almost to the end of the beach track, with Miss Three trailing behind with her bucket and spade, beach ball and her “work things”, we bumped into an old couple who told me there was no way I’d get across the lagoon to the beach. It was high tide and the sea had broken through to the lagoon which was apparently “flowing fast”. Not wanting to look like an irresponsible mother I heeded their advice and turned around and walked all the way back, thinking there must be a shallower section further back that we could wade across. We ended up finding a small patch of sand on this side of the lagoon, not quite as nice but actually the perfect size to contain the little people and in full view of the stunning Wattamolla falls.

Just as we had disembowelled our beach bags onto the sand (buckets and spades, water, flasks of tea, morning tea, lunch, towels, picnic rug, changes of clothes etc etc.) I saw a couple with a small child walking along the sand on the other side which meant it can’t have been that hard to get through there (grrrr). Where we were now plonked was definitely too deep to attempt carrying/swimming them both across at the same time. Anyway, nevermind, there’s always next time when I will come better prepared (i.e. minus the kitchen sink). Miss One was totally mesmerised by the waterfall and Miss Three was running around naked squealing with delight at the feel of the warm winter sun on her  back and the chilly lagoon water on her skin.

I did have to spend the first ten minutes harvesting brown broken glass from the sand, which some thoughtless party people had left behind which was very disappointing and in complete contradiction to the stunning beachscape laid out before us. The next hour passed happily, digging in the sand, rolling around at the shallow edge of the lagoon all with the complete absence of mobile phone reception. We had a lovely picnic and a cup of tea from the thermos and a mince pie (leftover from Christmas in July). In hindsight I should also have brought the bottle of sherry. By the time Miss One had hit the “I have sand up my bum and I should be in bed” button our belongings were spread far and wide. Once I had her cleaned up and put her in the pack I realised I had not got shoes on yet, so I completed that tricky manouver only to find Miss Three having a fit that her Diego ball was floating off across the lagoon. So after retrieving that item with shoes on I finished packing up, to discover she’d now stepped on an ants nest and had them all over her legs biting her. At this point she dropped the Diego ball again and it bounced off the rocks into the lagoon. She then alternated between ant panic and ball panic while the couple on the sand across the lagoon just stood and watched, presumably falling about laughing after we finally trudged back up the hill, zzzz;s coming from the back pack.

At times like these I wonder why I go to such lengths to get out of the house but I only think this for a split second. It was worth every minute of the not so easy bits just to see your one year old transfixed by a waterfall and rolling happily in the sand like a little crumbed prawn and being able to point out from the lookout above the falls, the water spouts of migrating whales as they passed us some distance off the entrance to the lagoon (yep). I wouldn’t swap that for quids.

So there it is, the photos look lovely but sometimes they don’t always tell a thousand words. Getting outdoors past the suburban swing park can be really hard work. But I think its always worth the effort. Miss Three is already asking to go back. What’s your worst and best at the same time story in the outdoors?

Here’s the rest of the pics in a gallery :)



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