John and Loretta Wise arrived from Melbourne the morning of Dec. 27th. They know Sydney quite well, so after stowing their gear we donned walking shoes and took off. For the next few days we explored parts of Sydney that Frank and I may have taken months to discover. This included the Opera House, The Rocks (historic area), China Town, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, The Royal Botanic Gardens, the puppet maker's shop and art galleries. We ate some fabulous meals and walked until our little tootsies ached! One of my favorite days was taking the bus to beautiful Coogee, and then walking the beach trail all the way back to Bondi Beach. It is a magnificent walk, and one we recommend to anyone planning a trip to Sydney.
On January 30th, after another long sweltering day, Frank cranked on the A/C and we burrowed in to watch the 5:00 news. Within minutes we were pretty well zoned, listening intently to the news when we were jolted out of our cozy little world by a loud and urgent banging on the hull of the boat! Frank and I popped up the companionway hatch to be greeted by a rowing club canoe full of about a dozen rowers, pointing to the shore at a man there waving his arm and yelling for us to turn on our VHF radio. It scared the hell out of us! We turned on the VHF. The man hailed us saying, "Hello Destiny! My name is Mark Dent. I am the Island Packet Yacht dealer in Australia and I want to welcome you to Sydney!" We laughed with relief and started bantering back and forth with Mark. Eventually we relayed our phone #'s to one another, so we could continue our conversation on the phone. He told us he lived there overlooking the bay and, although he doesn't have a boat at this time, he had seen us motoring around looking for a spot to anchor. He had been trying to find a way to get in touch but we never seemed to have our radio on when he hailed us, so he coerced the group of rowers into getting our attention. He invited us all up to his penthouse for a NYE party the next night. We declined because we had our plans set on being on the water, but promised to get in touch with him after our guests returned home. He assured us that if there is anything we need while in Oz to just let him know.
On the morning of Jan 31, while awaiting the arrival of Scott and Muriel Spencer from Brisbane we hit the Sydney Fish Market for "provisions" for our NYE celebration. Frank and John went in one direction, Loretta and I in another. We loaded the fridge and the ice chest (Eskie) with fresh prawns, salmon, barramundi and oysters from the fish market; beer, wine and champagne from the bottle store, and accompaniments from the grocery store. We were equipped to feast until the dawn's early light.
As soon as we picked up Scott and Muriel we headed out of Blackwattle Bay to claim our little piece of prime viewing real estate in Sydney Harbour. We had hoped to anchor at an area in front of the zoo, which many locals had recommended to us. By the time we arrived at midday, the area was abuzz with eager boaters rushing in to drop their anchors. It was a zoo! I do not know why but some people always want the spot that someone else has. This was the case time & again, as the show in the water around us got more and more entertaining. We sat out on deck sipping our drinks observing the hectic activities about. It reminded me of rude people in a queue at a Denver Broncos football game where people are trying to cram themselves through a very small opening so they can hurry inside. One poor couple with a small child in a very small motor boat had dropped the hook nearby and found themselves overwhelmed by the larger boats squeezing in and tossing them about. We noticed boats dragging, tangling up on other's anchor lines, calling to one another and vying for the perfect spot. After a while, the maritime patrol boats came out and set up perimeter buoys. As they did so lots of lots of boats that had spent lots and lots of time getting situated fell outside the permitted anchorage and were told to move. We got a little tense as they neared Destiny, nodded to us and then literally carved out a spot around us giving us front row advantage – whew! But, oh we did feel badly for those other people who just wanted to get settled and were finding it more and more difficult to squeeze in. It was nerve-wracking at times for all of us because for some it really was amateur hour!
Late in the afternoon a man came by in his runabout, yelled up at Frank, "Hey, you're the American bloke I met in Manly Harbour on Boxing Day, aren't you?" Frank laughed and said, "Yes, and you are the guy who gave me the wrong directions to the Heads!" We invited him up for a beer and after a while he left giving us his phone # and making us promise to look him up when we get to Broken Bay on our way back up the coast. Super nice guy – bigger than life and so typically Australian (from what we always pictured Aussies to be). At the time we never guessed that Russell and his family would come to be very good friends.