January 25, 2005 (pt. 1)
Happy New Year! We toasted in this New Year watching the fabulous fireworks from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It required a lot of determination to stay awake since we had just arrived that morning from LA. but we were not disappointed.
New Year's Day we dropped our lines and bade our neighbors in Gladesville Bridge Marina goodbye. We loved our two weeks in Sydney and tried to cram in as much sightseeing as we could before heading back to the States for the Christmas holidays. The contrast between sunny hot Sydney and freezing cold Chicago was shocking but home for the holidays was where we wanted to be. Those two weeks were frantic and fun enjoying the holiday spirit with family and friends but they flew by too quickly.
Back onboard Onora our attention focused on sailing south down the coast to Eden, where we would wait for a good weather window before heading across the feared Bass Strait to Tasmania. This can be a very nasty piece of water - just ask any racer who has been part of the Sydney-Hobart Race in late December! Along the coast we stopped in some interesting harbors with equally interesting names: Ulladulla and Bermagui, the latter where we waited out weather for almost a week. Finally at midnight, when the wind almost died we snuck out of the harbor and motored almost the entire way to Eden- about 42 miles. We picked up our package containing boat parts in Eden and took off for "Tassie" while the winds were still light. Our timing was good because for the next three days and nights the winds were at our back and with both head sails out we scooted across the Bass Strait over the top of Tasmania and down the eastern coast. There are hundreds of beautiful places to tuck into as you come down this coast but we had a very good reason to get to Hobart - our son, Justin and his wife, Jill were arriving in six days!
We had a thrilling ride on our third day out as we were approaching Port Authur. The winds picked up to 30+ knots and we were surrounded by dolphins who put on the best show ever-diving through the waves just off our bow, leaping and flipping in the air and propelling through the water at breakneck speeds! No matter what your mood was before they arrived, these dolphins just made you laugh and cheer at their antics.
From the Tasman Sea where it was still blowing 30+ knots with building seas, we pulled in Stewart Bay in Port Arthur where the water was flat and calm and the air was warm. This was a nice spot to drop the anchor and wait for the big winds to pass us by. Port Authur was a penal colony for the very serious "second time offenders" from all the Australian colonies. Today it is a historic site that attracts tourists from around the world and a fascinating look at a disturbing part of Australia's past.
Two days later, we were off to Hobart where we arrived at the Elizabeth Street Pier as the sun was starting to set. We are right in the downtown area near shops, cafes and restaurants so the privacy is limited but the convenience is suitable. Part of the routine after a passage, be it a few days or many weeks, is to "clean up" (Jeannie) and "fix up" (Jim). After that's accomplished, it's time to explore the city and Hobart is a very neat place to explore with nice shopping areas and some great restaurants and pubs.
Justin and Jill arrived a day later than expected so rather than letting them have some R&R we headed off to hike the trail to Russell Falls and see the Valley of the Giants (trees).