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Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 29 – 31, 2012 Karen’s visit and Happy NYE from Sydney Harbour

Karen's next was a full day in Sydney. We walked her through the Sydney Fish Market, over to Darling Harbour, through CBD, down George Street and over to Circular Quay. Frank had made a booking for us to tour the Opera House. The tour is worth the price of a ticket. Although we had seen a PBS Special on the history and construction of the Sydney Opera House, nothing like experiencing the real thing can bring it home. It is, even in this day, an architectural marvel. Afterward we lunched at the up-market food court at the opera house's waterfront boardwalk. Afterward, we (they) barhopped our way back up George Street. Frank wanted to show Karen his favorite beer bars. Eventually we arrived back on Destiny, exhausted.

On the 30th, we took Karen over to Chinatown and to the Haymarket, Paddy's, where she did a fair bit of souvenir shopping. Karen and I hit the party store for streamers, noisemakers, maracas, glow-in-the-dark leis for the ladies and light swords for the guys for the big NYE bash in the harbor. We had invited Heather and Mark, Pauline, Martin, Janet, her sister Helen and Janet's daughter Alicia to come out with us. We told them it would be a sleeping bag night and that they should expect to see and meet a lot of new faces.

NYE morning, because none of our invited guests wanted to make such an early appearance as we had requested Frank, Karen and I headed over to Athol Bay after first hitting the Sydney Fish Market as soon as it opened. We stocked up on fresh oysters, and prawns, and lamb for souvlaki. I had prepared heaps of food and snacks. Russell had anchored Tomkat at Athol Bay since the day after Boxing Day and was staying put. His family would have arrived from Bobbin Head in their smaller launch last night.  As we navigated the minefield of vessels, we began receiving calls on the VHF from Shazaam! and Bliss from MHYC who were already in place and saving a spot for us. Tomkat was too close to the far shore for us to get a good view so we anchored over by the MHYC boats. Mark and Heather had opted to go out with Astrid and Michael on Bliss, probably thinking our boat would be a bit crowded.  Janet, Alicia, Helen, Pauline and Martin had all made arrangements to get to the Taronga Zoo's wharf during the afternoon where we would pick them up in our dinghy. It was a busy afternoon of shuttling back and forth to pick up our friends and stopping by to visit with others. Folks began arriving on Destiny laden with armfuls of food and drinks. Mark, Heather, Astrid, Michael and some of their friends were first to come by followed by Russell, Jan, Tom, Kate and Damo. By mid afternoon we had over 25 people on board Destiny. My gosh, do we have this many friends? Tanja and Bernd from UPPS didn't want to give up their good anchor spot in Farm Cove by the Sydney Opera House, so they braved the busy traffic in the harbor in their dinghy! Talk about risking life and limb. On a normal day crossing the harbor is hazardous, but to do it in a dinghy on NYE is very brave. They arrived a bit breathless and overwhelmed to see the crowd that had gathered aboard Destiny. This was so exciting! We think they all wanted to meet Karen. She was in Heaven. We had so many friends, ice chests and platters of food on board it was tough to get around. How blessed and fortunate we felt to have attracted this many good friends. As dusk approached, several of the others returned to their own yachts to watch the parade. It was even more spectacular than last NYE. At 9:00 the early show began. Tanja and Bernd wanted to get as close as possible to the front line for a better view and jumped into their dinghy. Immediately everyone else began piling into theirs and ours. Good idea! I stayed behind to watch the boat because this is a great time for opportunists to make rounds to unattended vessels for a little five-finger discount shopping. I stood on the ice chest and had a fantastic view of the bridge and the fireworks.  For the midnight show, Martin traded places with me. Thankfully several boats had left before midnight, making it a little easier to get around in the dinghy. We sat right out in the middle of the harbor – waves slapping at us furiously, dousing us all to the bone with cold salty water. There goes my silk blouse! The show was even more spectacular than last year's! We blew our little horns, tossed popped our confetti poppers, whooped and hollered! It was unbelievably exciting and beautiful. Returning to Destiny, Pauline and Martin announced they were going to try to get home. Frank took them back over to the ferry wharf where they managed to get a cab. Tanja and Bernd dinghied back across the harbor to Farm Cove. Janet, Alicia and Helen bedded down in the salon. We retired happy with huge smiles and contentedly fell immediately to sleep. It was a New Year that beat all the others we have ever experienced. Goodbye, 2011!

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