Early wake-up, drive down to Bobbin Head Marina with Russell, Kate and Tom to meet the others who would be joining us for the ride over to Sydney Harbour to watch the start of the world famous Sydney to Hobart Race. Joining us aboard Tomkat were Crossie, Damo and two of his mates. Following us in their own motor yacht were friends of Russell's from Perth. Jan wisely opted for peace and quiet at home. Tomcat was fully stocked with a large assortment of food and drinks. Russell provisions for two days what we stock for 2 weeks! Once on board we eased our way to the entrance of Broken Bay where Russell put the pedal to the metal and we shot like a cannon ball over to Sydney Harbor, going about 26 knots. What a ride! His yacht is not only beautiful; it is what my daughter would call badass. He took us all the way up to Middle Harbour, dropped us at Destiny and was back at Spring Cove in less time than it would have taken us to get halfway to the entrance of Sydney Harbor from Bobbin Head. We boarded Destiny and set off to join the others at Spring Cove. Once we got underway I turned on Skype to call my family back home because today would Christmas for all of them. I managed to reach everyone but my daughter by the time we were scheduled to board Tomkat that would take us out to the start of the race. Disappointingly, I took Frank over in the dinghy, dropped him off and returned to Destiny where I opted to keep trying Jennifer on Skype rather than go out to watch the racers. Because of the time difference here to Houston, if I'd gone with the others it would be much too late to call Houston when we returned. I did manage to get Jen on the phone just as the racing boats left Sydney Harbour. It was well worth missing the race in order to wish Jennifer and Trace Merry Christmas.
The gang returned some hours later looking a bit haggard. Apparently Russ was pushing Tomkat so hard that a few of the guests got a bit sick. Frank described it as a death-defying ride out through the heads trying to keep up with the fleet. Seriously? Russell's Riviera trying to keep up with sailing yachts? These babies are fast! Frank told me that they were speeding past foolish onlookers who had ventured out in kayaks and dinghies that literally got tumbled in the churning waves that the multitude of yachts tossed up. He said aboard Tomkat they were all having a devil of a time holding on, much less taking photos. Eventually all of the youngsters departed leaving just us, Russell, Crossie and the other yacht to a quiet evening. We brought steaks over to grill on Tomkat where the 6 of us settled in for a feast. After dinner, Frank and I retired to Destiny. Sometime during the night a storm brewed, waking us out of a sound sleep. We awoke to hear motors and anchor chains working all around us. Apparently boats are dragging. We popped our heads up to note that Tomkat and many of the others had moved. We stayed firmly planted – thanks to our Rocna!
Frank and I moved over to Blackwattle Bay early Tuesday to get grocery shopping and laundry done in preparation for Karen's arrival. Over the past week we had been putting together a "welcome to Australia" gift pack for Karen. So far we had a basket filled with what we considered to be Aussie icons: Tim Tams, Cherry Ripes, melting moments, a photo book of Oz, a little koala and a koozie with Aussie characters on it, a personalized pen and tote bag. I think there were some other things in there but can't remember it all now. That afternoon, Mark phoned offering to pick Karen up at the airport – what a guy!
December 28th, Karen's flight was scheduled to arrive at 7:30 AM. Mark drove us to the terminal, dropped us off and waited off premises while we went in to the international arrivals area to meet Karen. We stood poised with cameras in hand to catch her walking under the "Welcome to Sydney" banner. She finally popped out around 8:45, all smiles and hugs! We stuffed her bags into the back of Mark's SUV and took off. Mark the consummate host, gave Karen a little driving tour of Sydney on the way back, even stopping off at his favorite French bakery for us to pick up a couple dozen frozen croissants. This is where I bought Karen her first Lamington. She liked it a lot. After getting her things stowed on board Destiny, we set off for town.