Bits and Pieces (Sydney 2001)

I’m planning a road trip to Melbourne followed by two weeks of cruising so am trying to get completion on as much boat work as possible this week. The great thing about Australia is that the people are laid back. The bad news is that if you are trying to get some boat work done, the workers around Sydney are just too laid back. Follow up and stay in their faces has become my Sydney mantra. If I want any serious work done in the future, I’ll go to New Zealand or Queensland (Northeastern Australia).

We got most of the major projects completed. Autopilot motors were rebuilt and reinstalled, the headsails got a “tummy tuck” to remove some of their middle age bulge, salon settee leather was cleaned and new slip covers made, the depth sounder calibrated, the windlass motor rebuilt, the nav station chair repaired, etc., etc. The only list longer than my “to do” is Clinton’s pardons on his last day of office.

When the nav station chair came back from repair, it was dirty from sitting in some shop or van, so after I set it in it’s mount, I popped into the engine room to get a rag and some cleaner. When I came out again, a “hitchhiker” had come out into view. On the top of the seat back was a brown, hairy spider the size of my open hand. Aieeeeeeeeeee!
I had never seen anything that big and ugly except through a thick pane of glass. I snuffed him with the rag before thinking clearly enough to snap a photo. Bugger! It turns out that he was a Huntsman Spider, which is quite common in these parts. They can inflict a painful bite, but unlike some other Australian species, has no poisonous venom. When I shared the story with the guy who fixed the chair a few days later, he flippantly said, “welcome to Australia, mate.”

Any yachtie knows that the lighter your boat, the faster you go. We generally practice the “add something, take something off” rule, but drawers and lockers seem to have a strange way of becoming smaller along the way. Cate, the keen racer she is, informed me that it was time to “lighten ship,” particularly in the galley. I didn’t bother to remind her that she had just given me a set of Petonk Balls (smaller Bocce Balls) for Christmas. I tried unsuccessfully to explain to her the necessity for a mushroom brush but gave up when we got to the wine re-corker.

Between jobs and boat work, we do get out on the town every now and then. Even though we have a car, we don’t use it much in town. There is so much within 15 minutes walk or ferry ride, including the iconic Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Central Business District, the Queen Victoria Building shopping mall, the Botanical Garden, a multitude of useums, the Star City Casino (very tacky), the Darling Harbour shopping/dining/entertainment complex, Maritime Museum and a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants.

The Aussies are friendly, fun loving and have a great and unique sense of humor. In our wanderings we’ve enjoyed a good chuckle at some of the names on the local business. Here are just a few:

A jewelry shop in Paddington called Verne Jewels.
A bookstore in Newtown called Better Read Than Dead
A Jaguar (pronounced Jag-you-er here) Parts Store called the Cat House
A Sushi Bar in Newtown called Eat Me
A chic clothing store in Paddington called French Connection United Kingdom or simply FCUK. (I know, you have to look twice)
A wrought iron fabrication shop called Ironic Twist
A pet store in Balmain called Heavy Petting

Cruising friends Cindy and Tim from Total Devotion popped in for a long weekend with us on their way through Sydney from a visit to the States. It was great to catch up with them, do a bit a social sailing, socializing, cooking and catching up on the latest goss. We always seem to both need and enjoy Cindy’s world famous Bloody Marys.

We remarked how important computers are to cruisers these days. We use them for, working, communications, managing affairs back home, gathering weather and tidal information, navigation, vessel management, passage planning, as well as all the other things “earthlings” would use them for. Between the four of us that weekend, we had five laptops on board! How does anyone cruise without one??

My web browser mutinied the other day, and it took me a full day to repair it. I got to know all the local Microsoft Help Line guys on a first name basis. They are a great group of blokes and after many hours with a phone in my ear, we eventually got it fixed. I feel sorry that Bill Gates is not making enough money to properly staff the local office. Perhaps he is saving up so he can retire and go cruising.

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