DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY 7 OCTOBER 2020
The stars aligned to enable us to get away for our first extended trip on Sanity – Cabin Boy was on school holidays, and the Admiral and I were able to finally get off work. The COVID situation had settled down, allowing us to get up to Sydney. Eric, one of the other syndicate owners, very kindly offered us his scheduled Thursday so we could make a decent four day trip.
The Admiral and I were a little later than planned getting away from Canberra. We arrived at CYCA at around 2230 hrs, and went direct to the boat. David K, another syndicate member had left the boat in great condition, after he finished his Wednesday evening twilight racing. After a quick unpack it was straight to bed for a very restful night!
DAY 2 – THURSDAY 8 OCTOBER 2020
It was a slow and relaxed start to the day! When we finally got Cabin Boy, he and the Admiral went for a walk to get some coffees and croissants while I filled the water tank and inflated the dinghy. By mid – morning, with a difficult weather forecast (strong wind warning > 25 knots) we decided to stay inside the harbour. We headed up to Middle Harbour, past Chinamans Beach, and picked up a public mooring off Parriwi Head where we stopped for bite to eat.
After lunch we decided to wait for the Spit Bridge to open and to try our luck heading up to Bantry Bay. On weekdays the Spit Opens 1015, 1115, 1315, 1415 and 2015. David K had kindly given us some advice for our first crossing under the bridge, and it was with no small sense of satisfaction to find out that 70,000 cars a day cross the Spit, and that a large number would have to wait for us!
The last time the Admiral and I had been here was when we did a kayaking course in early 2003, just before I bought my Mirage 580 Sea Kayak. After motoring through we headed further inland towards Bantry Bay where we picked up another mooring. An amazing anchorage – you can see almost no houses, yet are in the heart Sydney!
Once in, the Admiral and Cabin Boy got in some practice with the dinghy – rowing and refining the use of the outboard. Excellent Dinghy – Island Inflatable, however the Parsun outboard was hit and miss – sometimes running brilliantly and other times limiting itself to 3 minutes before shutting down 😦 It was also quite disconcerting not to have a neutral or reverse gear. The outboard is designed with forward gear only, which is permanently engaged causing the boat to move as soon as the engine was started!
We were pleased that we got into the Bay mid afternoon, as evening came there was a steady stream of boats trying to find a mooring or putting down an anchor. That night the Admiral participated in a family Zoom video call – bring together three generations from Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Yackandandah. A short day of about 7 nautical miles.
DAY 3 – FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER 2020
After a great nights sleep, the Admiral was woken in the morning to the sounds of rowers training in the Bay. After a quick check of the weather we made the decision to head up to Pittwater today. But first we had to fill in time before the Spit Bridge reopened at 1015!
We headed further up Middle Head, and ended up at Roseville Bridge Marina, opposite Davidson Park. We picked up a mooring belonging to the marina, and while I stayed on board the Admiral and Cabin Boy motored across to pickup coffees and hot chocolate. This was also the first place we started to look for 2 stroke outboard engine oil – something that I had left off the boat and needed to mix with the petrol in the plastic jerry. Something to remember for next time!
After coffee we headed back east towards the Spit, and again were lucky enough to pickup a two hour courtesy mooring on the western side of the bridge. The Admiral and Cabin Boy set forth in the dingy to try their luck finding oil in the boat shops and marina’s. I remained on board to take the boat through the bridge with the intention to pick them up on the other side. With a minute to spare they arrived and we quickly got them on board and headed through. Success – they did find the oil!
Once clear of the bridge we hoisted sails adjacent to Chinaman’s Beach and made for Sydney Heads and the Pacific Ocean. The forecast was for westerly winds, 15 – 25 knots, seas 1.5m and swells easterly 1.5m.
We headed north up the coast, staying about 1.5 miles off the coast in about 40 metres of water. The winds were westerly (offshore) at a constant 20-25 knots with the odd higher gust. The boat performed superbly – leaving over until she was on her hard chine, with the leeward rudder dug in to provide excellent control and tracking.
As the afternoon went on the wind progressively increased, in excess of 25 knots, so we put in a reef in both the furling Genoa and the main. This settled the boat down, reducing heel, however maintained the same boat speed in more comfort. We sailed well into Broken Bay, passed Pittwater and Lion Island, before making the decision to drop sails and engine into the wind and tide as we headed for Refuge Bay.
On arrival we picked up one of two Cruising Yacht Club Australia private moorings and had a late lunch. The best part of the afternoon was when a tinnie came past ringing a bell. The driver waived, I waived back, and the next minute we were buying the most expensive soft drinks ($4) and ice creams ($6) from the on-water Mr Whippy!
We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring with the dinghy and the 3 minute running outboard! Another great day, with around 34 nautical miles travelled.
DAY 4 – SATURDAY 10 OCTOBER 2020
Up early, we decided that as the diesel level was around ⅓ we would go for a motor, charge the batteries and find some fuel. We had a leisurely motor up Cowan Creek towards Empire Marina at Bobbin Head, passing familiar sights – Cottage Point, Coal & Candle Creek, Smiths Creek and lovely bays and anchorages. We arrived at Empire Marina, berthed at the fuel jetty. The Admiral and Cabin Boy went searching for coffee’s and croissants/toasties while I refuelled. After a leg stretch we took a scenic and leisurely route back up Cowan Creek, hugging the southern shore so we could get a great look at some of the waterfront properties. There are some lovely properties around Cottage Point.
Now back in mobile phone reception, we received some calls alerting us that there were some positive news articles about my work place in the media, so we picked up a mooring at the Cottage Point Cafe & General Store. The Admiral and Cabin Boy, embarked again in the dinghy (they are now very practiced at this!) and went ashore looking for some more snacks and a newspaper.
After no success finding a paper, we continued on, picking up a mooring off Hallet’s Beach so we could all go ashore for a swim, walk and explore.
Too cold for a swim, we returned to Sanity after an hour for lunch and to work out our plans. Remembering that the most dangerous thing on a yacht is a schedule, and noting the good weather and light winds from the north-west we made the decision to head back to Sydney.
Cabin Boy and I had great fun sailing off the mooring, with the Admiral, packing up after lunch, completely unaware that we were underway. With variable winds giving us a boat speed racing from < 1 knot up to 6 knots we headed out of Broken Bay and back to Sydney. Lovely sail, until the wind completely died out adjacent to Collaroy, so we started the engine and motored the rest of the way, getting into our berth around 2030. Back at the Marina we plugged into shore power and watched a movie on the laptop then off to bed!
A great day of sailing, with a reasonable distance covered – around 46 nautical miles.
DAY 5 – SUNDAY 11 OCTOBER 2020
An auspicious day! OK – my 52nd birthday, and was very pleased to wake up on a boat, which is becoming a tradition for my birthdays! Again we went for a wander, and spent some time tidying up the boat as we had family coming down today. Had a lovely morning coffee and chat with David K, syndicate member, who had returned late on Saturday night to the marina adjacent us, having run sail instruction on another yacht.
Around midday the family arrived, from the Blue Mountains and Sydney.
After a boat tour, drinks, nibbles and gifts it was then up to the Yacht Club for an excellent lunch!
It was great to see everyone, and was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing family get together for a long time. Around 1500 we said our goodbyes, packed up the boat and made the trip home to Canberra arriving at 1830 well rested and feeling that we had really made the most of two days off work and the weekend, to achieve a holiday like break.
We are loving the step-on, step-off, convenience of a yacht alongside in a marina. The Yacht Club is great, the location excellent, and owning a ¼ of the boat, and only having ¼ of the expenses is working out really well!
Total trip ~ 87 nautical miles (161 km).