I’ve been without internet for three plus days. This one’s gonna hurt. But there are chapters, see?
being on the tv
Set thy VCRs. It happens on Monday night. Message Stick, 6pm. ABC (as if you had to ask). Repeated at 1.30pm on the following Sunday.
big eye tuna
Three full days of motor-sailing got us from Southport to Sydney. On the way, FM snared a big eye tuna, which the Japanese deem the best-eating of all sashimi. Within an hour we were ogling an empty plate around a table of spilled soy, pickled ginger and wasabi. (I hereby renounce my affiliation with tubed wasabi in favour of the powdered stuff, it rocks.) We had the rest lightly seared on the barbie after a day's rest in the fridge. The Japanese are on to a good thing.
brekky in Bondi + a boatshed party
Despite my innate repulsion towards Sydney and all its glam, I must admit it is a spectacular place to arrive at by sea. Even the plastic mansions and Tupperware boats can’t mar its spectacle. I won’t mention the candy-striped lighthouse on South Head, since I’ve only just stopped laughing a week later. After waiting for a bridge opening (not the bridge - we’re big but not that big), we motored to our anchorage in Sugarloaf Bay, a quiet, forest-fringed arm north of Middle Harbour and home to L’s brother. ‘Home’ being the black sheep sibling of Sydney waterfront property. Think rattling wooden shack with curtains for interior doors, nestled in the bush, affording an eyeful of water. Who needs air con when the glass slides out of the window frame?
Between the shack and the boat, it was a rather hard way to spend a couple of days in Sydney. Notable events included a blitz on the local St Vinnies; Sculpture by the Sea along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, followed by brekky in Bondi; and a party at L’s brother’s boatshed (a short walk down the 'front yard'). Morning visits from the Vittoria boat had us in raptures. (My new vocation?)
Skip’s bub was onboard between Brisbane and Sydney and I dutifully witnessed big wads of time just vanish. His favourite things seem to be walking (which he can do on his own but insists you hold his hands while he perfects it), eating bananas and trying to handle unattended glasses of adult-only beverage. His vocab is miserly but he can sign a few words such as ‘more’ and ‘food’ which is quite cool. Mysteriously, he insists on referring to me as ‘aaayyyy’. Some take this literally, as in the letter ‘a’ but I’m convinced it’s a Fonzie greeting. I was unable to embellish the greeting with a thumbs-up, but did teach him to pinch his nose and say ‘pee-yew’ during nappy changes. I’ll make a great aunty one day.
bermagui to bega and back or, the labour of casting a vote while at sea
As a very motivated voter, I’ve been the onboard electoral conscience, analysing our early voting options and recommending voting methods and locations. Which is not terribly straightforward when you don’t know where or when you will make landfall, let alone in which state.
It appeared that Sydney would be our only opportunity to cast an early vote and we were unlikely to make Melbourne by election day. Postal voting was out of the question as we had nowhere to have the ballot papers sent.
Our first attempt at an early vote – in Sydney – didn’t even get off the ground. On our way to shore, FM cut his foot on oysters. Skip spent a good hour digging shards out of the wound, by which time the early voting centre had closed. I tried really hard not to sulk.
At about this time, I learned that when I put my life into storage and moved in with C, I also acquired the distinction of being enrolled in Queensland’s most marginal Liberal seat. (Inward shudder.) When I shared this news, skip’s feelings toward voting appeared to crank up somewhat. The usual grumpy commentary about the difficulties of voting at sea morphed into a personal quest to part the Pacific and speed me overland via golden chariot to a polling place.
Alas, there were no early voting centres in Bermagui, our next landfall and designated pit-stop to pick up L’s dad. So, after a day’s wait for the nearest early voting centre to open (early and nearest being horrible misnomers), we traipsed off in L’s dad’s car to Bega – home of middle-of-the-road cheese and a two-hour return trip from Bermi. We were first in line when the old hall opened. When we came out, we were so amped we had to go for coffee. (In Bega, mind you.)
(In case you’re wondering why we couldn’t have had the ballot papers posted to L’s parents’ place, the Australian Electoral Commission requires that applications for a postal vote be made by mail. Which of course excludes those at sea for long periods.)
L’s mum sent us off with a garbage bag full of herbs and vegies from the garden, a tub of anzac bickies, a fruit cake and a chocolate cake. Yum.
We’ve been hiding from a nasty south-westerly in Bittangabee Bay for a few days now. It’s devastatingly beautiful – a narrow white beach laced with giant honey myrtle melaleuca. It’s also devastatingly cold and devastatingly out of mobile and internet range. This has led to lots of reading, eating and tea-drinking. And stupid jokes about our penchant for greens at mealtimes (still coming down from the vote). Deep glossy zucchinis and broccoli florets went into a linguine with toasted pine nuts, tomato oil, thyme and pecorino. They also turned up on our tomato, ricotta and oregano pizzas and again last night with a garlicky roast lamb.
After much cocooning, it was time to explore. I counted 10km after setting out late one rainy afternoon; the next day FM and I walked north towards Hegarty’s Bay and then backtracked south to Green Cape Lighthouse (a beautiful omen?), clocking about 18km. Wildlife sightings in Bittangabee: a whale, dolphins, a pair of lyrebirds, throngs of wallabies, an eastern grey 'roo, king parrots, one brown snake (which tried to share our fruit cake) and loads of stingrays.
I’m taking a jag to south east Asia in late January. Actually it’s more like a stint, leaving late January and returning mid-April. Or earlier if the heat and wet get too much. At $500 return to KL, I felt a sort of responsibility to tight-arse travellers everywhere to snag it.