Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Soggy First Passage to America (Bay)

While touching the abundance of wood that surrounds me as we sit below on this foul weathered day, I am not contorted into a bilge, wiring closet or toilet, I am not hemorrhaging cash at Whitworths, I'm not even staring baffled at the rat's nets of wires behind the breaker panel.  I finally have reached a point where I have nothing (alright then, nothing important) to fix, and hence you, our friends and family, will be subjected to my ramblings!

We departed Sydney on what seemed like the least auspicious Tuesday imaginable. Oppressive grey clouds and heavy rain were the backdrop to a last farewell on the dock from my Dad and Katie's friend Krissy.  With a few hugs and kind words we threw off the dock lines on an adventure that still doesn't quite feel like reality.  There is something foreboding in the photo that my work colleague Dave snapped from the 24th floor of the a Sydney sky scraper of Elizabeth Jane II sailing under the harbour bridge that resonates with the feeling of the day, a small boat dwarfed by the enormity of the world around it.

After some delays while we sorted out the reefing lines for the mainsail near the heads (ropes which allow us to adjust the amount of sail we have up) we departed Sydney harbour with an ample 20 Knots of southerly wind which brought with it a more than ample amount of swell.  If you ask Katie about this, I'm sure she'll be kinder, but the first piece of off shore sailing we did on EJ2 on was far from pretty.  I had a quiet moment to myself where I wondered if all the talk of fantastic sea-kindliness of the Peterson design was an elaborate ruse to suck me in..  It took around an hour of slapping ropes, awkward angle to the swell, and a headsail that refused not to hide behind the mainsail unless I pointed the boat towards New Zealand, before we eventually got her going well.

The moment we gybed for Barrenjoey head my fears were allayed, the boat sat beautifully stern on to the swell, with full sails, and a constant 7.5 knots of boat speed.  In concert with our return to sailing normality the sun decided to make an appearance, and we entered Broken Bay in high spirits.

The first stop we chose was America Bay, which the cruising guide zealously describes as "the finest anchorage in the world".  I'm as pessimistic as the next man when to bold claims such as these, however there was something special about the place.  It could have been the soft sound of the waterfall, the sumptuous tree lined cliffs around the bay, the spectacular sunset, or Katie's magnificent chicken stroganoff, but it was a fine end to a fine day.  All the hard work and preparation had paid off.  We'd thrown off the doubts and trepidation.  We'd left.

20/4/2013

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