Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2008 and all that

(Composite 180 degree image of Circular Quay with 116,000 tonne Cruise Ship, Sapphire Princess on the left, Harbour Bridge in the middle, and Opera House just visible through the trees on the right).

I can hardly believe it’s the 13th already. This update is soooo overdue. So without any further delay…


One of the highlights of life since I got to Sydney was sailing Chris’ Taser dinghy in the Sydney harbour. It was a quiet day down at double-bay with much of gentrified Sydney having left town for the holidays.
(Tasers, like Chris' dinghy)

After much stretching of gibbets, curling boom lines and sheathing cleats (I have no idea what I’m talking about), the boat was ready and we wheeled her down to the water.

This is where the fun began. I hadn’t thought that boat launching could be so treacherous. In even a light wind, we managed to tip the boat over, fall out and slide about on the slimy bottom. After some assistance from experienced sailors (they had their names painted on the side of their boat – losers!) we found ourselves in the water,

Chris is a pretty good sailor and he was a pretty damn good teacher too! I started at the front of the boat, managing the ‘front sail’ (jib sail?) and we were soon making great progress, the boat tipped up at an angle and both of us with our feet in the feetstraps (footstraps?) leaning right out of the boat to keep us from capsizing.

(James and I head down to the beach!)

So mostly, we were tearing across the harbour with some skill. Though Chris did allow me to take the tiller (I’m sure I’ve got that one right) at one point with two hilarious episodes.

Turning the boat at speed is a pretty sudden, violent event. A sharp turn is essential to avoid losing speed, but not too sharp. On one particular turn I managed to turn a bit too fast, let go of the tiller and the next thing I knew I had my head under the water – in fact rushing through the water – with my feet still in the footstraps. Chris was able to reach over and pull me back into the boat, though in the panic I wasn’t able to pay due care to my shorts which were by now half-way down my backside, showing a good few inches of butt-crack!

With the sails out of control, thankfully the boat came to a halt. Unfortunately, when I looked behind me the Manly ferry was almost on top of us, with around a couple of hundred people seeing our predicament!

And, after a few near misses we did eventually capsize on our way back to the jetty. Actually, it was much easier to right the boat that I’d thought. And good fun actually!

Ocean Swim too far…

After my first sail in a dinghy, my next sporting achievement was to be my first ocean swim the following Sunday morning. And then the storms came. Not to Sydney but to the Central Coast. Though the weather in Sydney was good, the storms created a huge swell right down to Port Jackson, and Bondi was pretty heavily affected!

I went down for the training session on Friday night and the surf was big, real BIG. As we swam out I found I couldn’t calm down enough to breathe properly. The exertion of getting out beyond the waves had me out of breath and every time a huge wave came, I’d have to hold my breath as it washed over me. I was exhausted by the time I got beyond the surf, and then I had to swim back in.

(Left - fireworks explode from the Harbour Bridge.)

And then half way through I got absolutely bundled by a huge wave. When I came up, I’d lost my goggles. I got back to the beach and said to Spot, the coach, that I was going to have to call it a day as I’d lost my goggles and I was wrecked! But, in that typical aussie way, Spot laughed that off saying “You don’t see me wearing goggles. Come on, just get back out there.”

So I did last until the end of the session. But, with the forecast for the surf to get even bigger, I made the decision to skip the competition on the Sunday. I was back at Bondi the following Saturday and it was flat calm. Hopefully when I do get to a competition – probably after I get back from India now – the weather will be more like that than the previous weekend.

New Year

New Year in Sydney. Even the idea seems epic. After Christmas week, I was pretty much partied-out already. I would have been happy with any kind of night at New Year, but I was delighted with Circular Quay.

(Right - Keith and I meet some Scottish girls (!) on Hogmanay.)

Keith and I and a bunch of Peruvian friends had tickets for Cruise Bar. Despite incredible difficulties getting to the bar – a major problem on Hogmanay – it was a great venue. We met some nice people and of course the fireworks were immense.


Yeah, otherwise I’ve been partying hard and working hard. My room is looking more homely – photos to follow when I get my nice new canvas prints from my trip up on the walls. I’m getting better and better acquainted with Sydney’s nightspots and I’ve found a couple of new beaches around the harbour.

Lastly, my trip to India is booked! I fly out on the 21st and get back on the 1st of February. More about this soon. Should be epic…

Still didn’t mention the weather.

(Six Peruvians and two Scotsmen celebrate New Year in Sydney.)