Sulphur Crested Cocky Two Year Olds and Other Less Common Foreshore Species

Howdy strangers. Where did winter go? Its been all work and not much play here for a while. The occasional tinny trip. The lounge room at the Heron’s Nest has been strewn with companion way steps, stripped out bits and bobs of the insides of the Endeavour 26. Much sanding and varnishing. More on that in another post.

Last weekend, A few weekends ago, having reluctantly given up on the idea of fitting a camping trip in we headed down to Jibbon Beach, campstove, chairs, breakfast and lunch in tow. It was a glamour day, perfect for testing out a new camera.

Heron in a Gum Tree

The reason you go to the beach….

The sulphur crested cocky two year old….

sporting her new muddy buddy

…and other less common foreshore species…

laters….

Why you should never EVER take a banana on a boat

Happy RaysSailors and seafarers are superstitious folk. Its always been this way. Never leave port on a Friday, never harm an albatross, NO pasties on board, avoid redheaded people before a voyage (?!!!) and apparently women on board are bad luck (pah!)…and bananas. Don’t bring bananas onboard.

So last weekend, Sydney produced some absolutely sublime weather; sunny clear skies, 10-15 knots from the west. We’ve decided, despite having a long list of renovations for the boat, that we just need to use it whenever the weather is right for taking small children on board, to get them used to it so when it is finally set up for over-nighters we can feel confident to take them out of the heads and up or down the coast.

The picnic basket is the most important aspect of putting to sea with children. Unfortunately when I was throwing things in the eski, upmost in my mind was mess free appealing food that fills them up. So I chucked in some bananas and didn’t give it a second thought.

It was a cracker of a day. In fact probably one of the happiest and funnest and joyous days I’ve spent with my family….

So back to the bananas. Until we got back to the mooring it was all smooth sailing. I was down below playing I spy with the girls….and there was a gentle bump as the keel hit the mud…followed by about ten minutes (that felt like thirty) of Reg thrashing the outboard and swinging around on the rigging until we eventually slid off. It was the first time we’d put the boat back on the mooring at low tide and we were excruciatingly a couple of metres from the mooring buoy. So whilst its a great spot in terms of distance to row the tender to shore, we will have to approach the mooring from a specific angle at low tide. Or leave the bananas at home.

If you know any interesting or unusual seafaring superstitions, please share!

Endeavouring…

Reg has a got a new tiller. All shiny new and varnished. It was the first item up for renovation on the little red boat that we adopted late last year. It still bears the name Red Endeavour, a title we plan to change (suggestions welcome), although I’m beginning to think the current name is rather apt. It is proving very much to be an endeavour and progress has been a little slow. But that’s no surprise.

Reg tinkering

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The Christmas holidays were a mad rush to get her surveyed, registered, drop a mooring and get her seaworthy to sail round to Botany Bay where she has been bobbing up and down ever since. Sadly I couldn’t join Reg for the sail, which is why there are no photos of this momentous occasion. Her previous owners took a stroll along the Esplanade at Cronulla and waved the beloved little red boat goodbye from the cliff tops.

We’d love to keep her in Port Hacking but there’s a long wait list for moorings. Gwawley Bay is on Botany Bay and is a 15 minute drive from where we live. It’s also just a stone throw from Endeavour Marine who we’ll probably get to know a little better as we work through the list of jobs required to be done before she’s ready for a jaunt up or down the coast with a crew of under-fives.

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Despite this slow progress it’s been pleasing to see how getting kids on boats is not just about the actual act of sailing (although that’s the goal). There are so many opportunities for them to learn and explore before they’ve even left the wharf. Miss Four spent at least two afternoons accompanying Reg on a maintenance mission. Threading new halyards, learning about running a mouse line (a four year old girl actually really gets the concept; it’s like hickory dickory dock, except in a mast instead of a clock). The new tiller needed to be fitted and the more boring jobs like fitting a manual bilge pump were endured by sitting in the cockpit singing away, doing some colouring in whilst happily licking an ice cream.

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Before she left her old home we took her for a trip up South West arm and whilst we didn’t get any sails up that day, it was a good opportunity to assess the renovations list down below…

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..and test out the sea legs…

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Put people to work polishing the top sides…

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…thirsty work…

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Top of my list is a working galley, although this will have to wait until we have replaced the egg beaters with a diesel donk as I don’t like the idea of naked flame and petrol engines in the same vicinity. The galley will be closely followed by some new lockers so we can stow a few items permanently and keep things ship shape down below (a challenge with toddlers on board).

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So, we have a deadline to get her sorted by the summer. We have family coming to visit and after an anticipated hard year at work I am already dreaming about a couple of weeks on Pittwater or Jervis Bay, simply messing about on boats, come Christmas. Will keep you posted.

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PS – if there are any Endeavour 26 enthusiasts out there with ideas for optimum below decks design configurations give me a shout :)

Rock Pooling

Muddy, brown swirling flood waters. Semi submerged flotsam and jetsam from way upstream. Deceptive currents invisible on the surface but strong enough to sweep away the humble tinny. Best head to the coast then, beyond where the rivers expel their coffee coloured dregs and where the magnitude of the Pacific surf has the power to wash away and dilute the murky masses of water that empty into it. Floods punctuated the close of a Sydney summer that never really was. Thank goodness for Rock pools, their crystal clear waters renewed daily by a fresh tide that inundates it. Perfect for exploring whatever the weather.

Mesmerised….

Emerald city….

Pretty shells all in a row…

King Neptune’s necklace…

A rose petal bubble shell (very exciting find!)..

Pipeline..

Sea urchin…

Sticking…

Potholes…

Mr Pincy…

at the kiosk..

Someone else’s sandcastle

What did you do last summer? :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Treasure Up the George’s River: Part II

Way back in 2010 I wrote about our first proper adventure up the George’s River. We’re really getting to know and love this stretch of water as it now almost  literally laps on our doorstep. Whilst not as sandy or as clear as the water’s up South West arm, George’s River is a more complex system with many tributaries and creeks to explore. Of these, The Woronora is fast becoming a favourite, not least for the rich diversity of wildlife that calls it home.

Percival

I’ve always thought King Fishers were shy and solitary birds so had to look twice when I saw this fellow dart up onto the phone wires…

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…and then swoop down to join his mates for a chat on the tinny hoist. They are called Sacred Kingfishers and are one of five King Fishers species down here in Aus. I love King Fishers.

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We’ve made a few trips up the Woronora on both of the most recent public holidays; New Year’s Day and Australia Day…

Rhubarb...

Helping Hand

Head of the River

Beach BBQ

River Cottage

Ratty's House

and discovered the charming Woronora Boat Shed and Cafe where we stopped in for Miss One’s first Cornetto on New Year’s Day…

Just one Cornetto

and made a note to return for a proper job brekkie with friends, which we did this Thursday the 26th, to celebrate our collective Aussiness…

The Boat Shed

We had the most relaxing breakfast in the history of breakfasts’ in the company of four under four.  You wouldn’t think this possible so close to the water but the treasure trove of toys and books at the back of the cafe kept ours busy for ages..

Toy Story

..and its generally a pleasant place for boaty types to fossick about and admire..

Mermalaid

collections

..and we weren’t disappointed by the coffee and breakfast, after which we took our little friend for his first tinnie spin back to Oyster Bay. He was well impressed.

It was this big

And finally a few things to consider you’re thinking of heading that way…

  • We launch at Oyster Bay Boat ramp which you can find here at the end of Oyster Bay Road. This is great for small boats on trailers and for all kinds of tinnies. It’s quite shallow and there are very few facilities but this means there are no queues for the ramp and plenty of trailer parking.
  • There are plenty of other places to launch including the ramp at Tom Uglys
  • If you don’t have a tinny you could hire one from Como Marina. These boats go pretty slow (max 10 knots I think) so they can be driven by unlicensed operators. This really  isn’t an issue because much of the river is 4knot and 8 knot no wash zones.
  • If you’re not familiar with it I do recommend having a thorough look at the charts and be aware of the absolute need to stick within the channel as you could come unstuck, well actually get stuck and that’s not fun.
  • Another option is to drive to the Woronora Boat Shed and hire one of their many kyacks and canoes. The perfect way to explore this beautiful stretch of water.

We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea

Last year we sold our beloved skiff and I wrote a heartfelt valedictory post about it here, where I celebrated the love of a boat that sadly had to go. In the meantime we’d sold our small house in south Sydney and headed for the leafy burbs of the ‘Shire, content with the tinny and the occasional race or delivery with old friends and connections whilst we focused on raising two girls and giving them a taste of the briny.

When we advertised the skiff online we got side tracked perusing the marine classifieds and day dreamed of the possibilities, a bit like some people do on domain.com on a Friday night accompanied by a chardy or two (actually that’s me as well). We pondered a few items in the four figure category, commenting on how lovely it would be to have something with a cabin to do overnighters on with the girls and take them outside of the heads.  Having just bought a house and not having yet sold our current one, not to mention the renovations required on the new one, we categorised a lead keel boat in the “several decades away” basket. In fact having done a few thousand miles on other people’s yachts, being a “proper” boat owner has never been top of the list.

But what would you say if someone offered you one. For free?.

Allow me to introduce you to the Red Endeavour.

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Generously donated by a family friend whose budget and ambitions have changed, this boat has been a  family fixture for about a quarter of a century. Mostly sailed on Port Hacking, and definitely pre-loved, its age a barrier to her owner’s urgency to reclaim the mooring for her replacement.

Our initial reaction to the offer was “yes, yes, yes” but there is actually more to taking on an old yacht than meets the eye. If I’m honest we both knew from the outset that we couldn’t say no. We did a bit of research on insurance, rego, moorings etc. and then went down for a lookie. Having noted the need for some TLC we uttered a predictable “yes”.

The pressing need to get her off her current moorings presented some unexpected challenges, which I will elaborate on in a future post. In the meantime she’s had her bottom scrubbed (well in need)…

Dirty Bottom

a once over from a marine surveyor (with recommendations)….

On the Slip

…..and a good gurney to blow away the guano (that’s a technical term for Sea bird poo in case you were wondering,) she was starting to look like a bit of a gift horse. I daren’t look her in the mouth.

I’m going to blog (now and then) about her ressurection which may be of interest if you’ve ever cruised the classified sections of “Afloat” magazine and don’t think its silly to adopt a bottomless money pit as your pet project (what house renovations?…)

calling all carpenters

table turned

Dunno about the dunny...

Need some money for new rope

Anchors Away!

Who has an overlocking industrial sewing machine?

..and who could resist the intoxicating and romantic aroma of two stroke…

The intoxicating and romantic aroma of two stroke

…from the egg beaters…

The egg beaters...

But….most importantly, when she’s scrubbed up and sea worthy I hope to bring you tales from the ocean waves with two under 5…

pondering the high seas

are you sure about this?rail fodder

hiking training

old anchor rope

…as well as the usual escape tales from the tinny, which I assure you will retain its rightful spot (in my eyes anyway) as the ultimate getaway vehicle from the stresses of modern life…

The tinny life

 What lengths have you gone to to avoid house renovations?! :)

 PS – If you’re interested in the captions that go with the photos, just hover your mouse over the image.

 

 

 

Christmas in a Mangrove Swamp

When conjuring up the perfect spot for a Christmas breakfast picnic, a mangrove swamp probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. But if you go down to those woods on a Christmas day you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. The trip down there was very quiet; the boat ramp at Oyster Bay was empty, there were just a handful of kayackers and the odd angler catching Christmas lunch from the tinny.

Christmas Breakfast

Having done a quick reconaissance last week we headed back to Towra Wetlands, a protected tract of mangrove swamp on the South West corner of Botany Bay. There’s oodles of bird life and you can actually explore them without a tinny as there is a board walk accessible from Kurnell (with a permit). Towra is the largest remaining wetland in Sydney and home to the endangered Green and Golden bell frog as well as a nesting ground for migratory wading and shore birds so tread carefully (we just cut the outboard and floated up to the edge of the mangroves). High tide is the perfect time to explore this enchanting mangrove forest as there is the least likelihood of causing damage, the swamp is completely submerged and the fish are jumping. We tied up in the cool shade of the trees for a Christmas picnic of mangoes, croissants (or “Croissonauts” as pronounced by Miss Four) and a flask of coffee.

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Mangrove Magic 2

Mangrove Magic 3

Mangrove Magic 4

Mangrove Magic 5

Mangrove Magic 6

Mangrove Magic 7

Peeping Out

Of course the ultimate Christmas morning luxury is to be spade fed mangoes in the shade of the mangrove trees…

Mangoes under the mangroves

And if you’re really lucky you might catch the odd cyster catcher..

Oyster Catcher

and a sea eagle….

Sea Eagling

…before heading home to stick that other bird in the oven…

Heading Home

Time and Tide Wait for no Blogger

There just hasn’t been time for blogging these past few months. If I took a photo everyday you’d be looking at a whole pile of cardboard boxes and a lot of sweat and swearing. Here’s what the good bits looked like instead (whilst I relocate my writing mojo…)

A trip to Bundeena to escape the packing…

wave watching

 Chart reading

Heading Home

 Lots of takeaway…

A wedding by  the sea…

Norah Head

 

cake love

More cake love

 

Flannel flowers and kangaroo paw

Farewell to Brighton Le Sands…but we’ll be back..

Kiting 2

She sells sea shells…a 4th birthday..

Getting stuck into the George’s River..

Rhubarb after her first foray into the mangroves…

Something we’re pondering (because we don’t already have enough renovations in the pipeline)

The last few months have passed at break neck speed and we are now finally looking forward to a long lazy summer holiday (if the summer weather ever decides to make an appearance!). I will be mostly eating cheese and cherries, heading out in the tinny, catching up on some good books and dipping my toe into some ocean swimming like I promised. Oh and finding my blogging mojo from under the packing boxes :). How will you spend yours?

 

 

Friday Photo: Modern Day Huckleberry

Matt at Como Wharf

Met a couple of keen kids fishing off the wharf at Como last Saturday. Enjoying the sunshine, experimenting with bait and being very concerned about a plastic bucket floating past that a whale might accidentally swallow. Tres cool. Have a lovely weekend one and all.

A Haggle of Herons?

Source: google.com.au via Charley on Pinterest

Finally, we swept the cobwebs off the tinny on Sunday and headed for the Georges River to check out our new stomping ground. We move house in two weeks and we are beyond excitement.

A planned two hour trip turned into four, giving me a chance to flex my newly licensed tinny driving muscles. We have explored parts of George’s River before, which I wrote about here, and here.

One of the main purposes of the outing was to check out a tiny mangrove inlet that runs parallel to our new street, below our block. I was pleased to discover that all you can see from the water is a dense tract of bushland and mangroves, with the houses in our street hidden away behind.

Mangrove...somewhere on the George's River

Over the last few weeks I’ve been racking my brains for a suitable house name, possibly translated into Cornish. As we entered the little bay (which shall remain unnamed), we noticed a large group of herons sunning themselves on a disused jetty . I have always thought that herons were solitary birds, hunting alone in a quiet backwater, still as statues scanning the water for their next meal. This bunch numbered at least ten. My mum tells me the proper term is a “heronry” and she’d know because she’s a bird nerd.

When I got home I looked it up in Burnum Burnum’s Wild Things and would you believe there was the white faced heron on page one, the first species listed? I also looked it up on backyard birds where the heron’s nesting habit is described as “an untidy structure of sticks, placed in a tree.” Yep, that sounds appropriate. So there it is, our new home, perched among the trees above the mangroves shall be called “Herons Nest”.

If your house was a nest what kind of a bird would you be?

Wake up we're at the beach!

Queue at the boat ramp

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