Sunday, February 21, 2010


I almost became a close friend of customs in Newcastle, after seeing them that often. It took several trips to sort out the issue of "control permit" (read cruising permit), which has to be synchronised with the authorised stay of the owner/skipper as opposed to the valid visa.
Coming into Australia, you get a visa valid for one year but only three moths per visit. The boat can stay in Australia up to the expiration date of the "control permit", but the control permit cannot be granted beyond the expiration date of your stay, not your visa. Customs having to do the Immigration job but apparently not being very familiar with all the details of the regulations, had a hard time deciding what kind of control permit I was going to be given.
Now, I have it, valid until May 15th. Then, after I return from my quick trop to New Zealand in March, I should be able to obtain an extension of the control permit up to June 7th.
Having done all that, plus the usual shopping and looking for parts (like a replacement water pump so that I always have a spare on the boat), we were able to leave Newcastle on Friday.
It was supposed to be a stroll in the park sailing down from Newcastle to Pittwater. Instead, it turned out to be one of the most unpleasant passages so far, with no wind or very little wind from behind, and a strong swell from the ESE which was making the boat bounce and roll heavily. On top of that, we had to motor all the way at a meagre 4 to 5 knot because of the sea state. We got into Pittwater just before dark and instead of going all the way into the bay, we dropped the hook in front of Palm Beach for a quiet night.
Saturday morning, not too early, we went visiting the bay and sailed around Scotland Island before going out to head down to Sydney. Soon the wind picked up and we were able to enjoy a wonderful sail all the way to the entrance of Sydney harbour where Peter Smith and Tim Morris on Peter cruising boat Charika were waiting for us.
The scenery in Sydney harbour on a Saturday afternoon was just incredible and reminded me in many ways of the scenery in the Solent on an Admiral's Cup year during the Cowes week. Hundred of boats, of all sizes, racing inside the harbour. For safety sake, having to deal with so much traffic, I dropped the sails and went motoring to follow Peter into Tennyson Point where Peter had arranged a free berth for us at the back of a friend's house. I had to back into piles with the wind and the current on the beam and I made a good demonstration on how to mess up a manoeuver. However, after a while, we were in, having broken nothing, not even the windvane and after sorting out lines and other stuff, we went ashore for a nice dinner party with Peter, Tom and family (wives and sisters), and a four legged friend named Denzil.
On the berth, I have no electriciy, no water (although this can be arranged) and no Internet. At first it looked like quite a challenge. But Gail took me in town where I could purchase from Vodafone a USB stick for broadband, supposed to work wherever there is a cell phone service. It turned out that it does not work down there on the water, but I can work from Peter's house, and for a start, it will do just fine.
I now have to find my marks and organise some kind of work to chase and fix the various leaks. Other than that, all I have to do is to enjoy Sydney, and I will . ..

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