67. Another Day of Sun

So here I am in Airlie Beach. As I’ve been too lazy to post for a while, here’s a whistle-stop tour of the rest of our stay in Sydney.

A good thing to do in a new city is to ride the hop-on, hop-off bus. You see the sights, get a feeling for the geography, know how to find the places that sound interesting and end up where you started so you can’t get lost. Unless, of course, the bus is so full that you might as well be on a rush-hour London tube. In which case you cannot hear the commentary and you can’t see the buildings around you. We had planned to get off at the Powerhouse Museum purely because it was the first stop that had a cafe and we had skipped breakfast. We are so glad we did, after sustenance we went into the museum (which is being closed and / or moved to a less convenient location). It was free and full of good design icons, including the first train in Australia (Train Number One).

There was an exhibition of fashion by Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. I feel embarrassed to confess I’d not heard of them as they had such an influence in the 1970’s and I have a number of knitting patterns that were obviously inspired by them. They had been based in the UK for a while and as well as knitted garments had the most awe-inspiring dresses. We actually went around twice, partly because my camera had decided not to take photos but also because we could. If you are in Sydney before March 22nd (when the exhibition ends) then go.

Back on the bus, we eventually managed to get a seat and plug in our earphones. Despite this being January 2020 and thus after Christmas, the sound track, when we were not being told about stuff (mostly how new luxury apartments were being built in previously run-down areas), was CHRISTMAS MUSIC! AAARGH!

Moving on. We had some great meals, Intermezzo in the GPO building, Cafe Sydney in the Customs House (still in use) and Gowings restaurant in the old Gowings Department store (a lovely old Art Deco place) to name a few. It seems that most of the restaurants are in buildings that previously had another function. Not just the restaurants either: the Conservatoire of Music was originally built as stables. I know this from reading Mrs. M by Luke Slattery, a novel based (loosely) on the life of Elizabeth MacQuarie, the wife of Lachlan MacQuarie, the last Governor of New South Wales. There’s a stone “seat” in the Royal Botanic Garden that she sat on to look at the view. Val is recreating the scene below. A good read if you’re looking for a new book to while away a few hours. It was recommended by Fiona, who will be sailing on Punta del Este.

We met Fiona at the Art Gallery of NSW and saw a small exhibition of paintings by Ben Quilty, a local artist who had been to Afghanistan as a war artist. His art was incredibly powerful, not just the war veterans he painted after they had returned but also his Rorschach paintings depicting local atrocities. Although the inspiration for these was of disturbing episodes in Australia’s past, the artwork itself was stunning.

Ben Quilty

Having been to the Opera on New Year’s Eve, we decided to have a tour of the Opera House. Very interesting even though we did not do the back stage tour. Our guide Peter turned out to have been one of the architects involved in the building when he had just qualified. You can’t get much closer than that, on a par maybe with being shown around Robben Island in Cape Town by one of the former political prisoners. We then walked around The Rocks, which had been an area of ill-repute in the past and saw the Ovation of The Seas, the largest cruise ship that visits Sydney. it can take around 5,000 passengers and looks at first glimpse like a block of flats.

We donated some funds to the NSW Firefighters, all volunteers and working in almost impossible conditions, and felt lucky that we had not suffered any ill effects whilst in Sydney. We are blown away by the number of shops in the CBD, there’s a veritable underground city of them. You go down one escalator, wander around, come up another and have no clue how you ended up where you are. The bookshop where I bought Mrs. M fills a whole floor of one part. On our last night we ventured out of the city to have dinner at Coogee.

Sydney artwork

The next day we said our farewell to the city and flew up to Proserpine for transfer to Airlie Beach. On arrival there was a smattering of raindrops but nothing since. It is such a relaxing place we’ve done very little: walked to the marina to work out where the fleet will come in, done our laundry and bought a few snacks for when John and George arrive, met a few other Clipper people and mooched around generally.

The Opposition: Punta del Este supporters and Fiona

It’s now Friday in Australia, my birthday, and NEITHER of my boats are here, due in Saturday or Sunday. We won’t know the Ocean Sprint results until prize giving (Sunday) so I don’t think I’ve any sailing news. The various boats have gone into Stealth, wallowed in wind holes, turned around and confused us all with their movements.

59. Pineapples are not the only fruit

We can’t leave Cape Town yet, as you’ll see from the header (not many rhinos in Australia unless they’re in a zoo). I’ll try not to give you any more pictures of Table Mountain but it may appear in the background, you can’t really get away from it.

Pineapple!

The first subject I have to address is The Beard. I see that Commo Keith has also got into the act, see his blog Pretty Much All At Sea. His wife Ruth is in full agreement with me. https://keithsclipperadventure.com/2019/11/21/here-they-go-again/

Beard unguents

I did not accompany John on his trip to (probably the same) barber but I think I should have. This is what he brought back, all for my comfort he says. As I have been tasked with carrying it around the world, I guess I’m trusted not to “accidentally” lose it anywhere. I did not notice a scrap of difference, but as The Beard had been trimmed it became like a field of close-cropped stubble once more. To make matters worse, George is now in on the act, along with his Godfather Keith.

George, Keith and John

The second subject is Kit. The crew have to remove all their kit from the boat so that it can be deep cleaned. The hotel room we stayed at in Punta del Este was quite small so I felt like I was on the boat with having to climb over stuff and the aroma surrounding it all (albeit a level surface). In Cape Town we were able to lay it outside as there was little rain and we had a good sized balcony. A dry suit is a scary object when laid out, like some Thing out of Dr Who. The only issue was it was not an easy walk, especially with all of John’s kit. On the first day going back to the boat, John managed to get lost and was 30 minutes late for his meeting. I’m trying to make sure we have large rooms closer to the marina from now on.

Empty dry suit airing

Enough complaining. This time I had an uneventful journey and spent quite a bit of time with other supporters including Anne, Fiona and Keith, featured in Post 57. Plenty of places to eat and drink on the V&A waterfront, which does not stand for Victoria and Albert but Victoria and Alfred, their second son. He was obviously influential around here.

The night that Unicef arrived there were seven of us eating in the Baia fish restaurant, overlooking the jetty. When we saw Unicef arriving we all ran out, to return about half an hour later once the crew had been bussed off to immigration. John found us after the kitchen had closed. Our waiter kindly brought him three bread rolls (plus some wine).

Cheryl with a heap of cans to label.

The rest of the time was effectively divided into two, tasks for the boat and sight-seeing. Regarding the first, George’s Godparents Keith and Fiona went along and helped with sail repairs and are now signed up for Seattle was well. I did a bit of flaking (see Post 57) but my main contribution this time was lending a hand with the victualling, as you can see throughout this Post. Having sorted the cans into fruit, vegetables, pulses, meat and fish, we discovered that pineapple is not for pudding but for sweet and sour dishes, so had to go back and re-allocate them in the day bags. Each bag has a bread mix and a cake mix.

Day bags laid out for each day’s food

I don’t think I’ve mentioned Angie, the Round-The-Worlder on Unicef who is the official Victualler, on the left of the photo above. Unfortunately she fell over in the shower on day 1 in Punta and broke her wrist. Despite this she insisted on supervising the victualling at Punta before flying home to New Zealand. She then flew into Cape Town to oversee it all again. The hope is that she will be able to rejoin the fleet in Fremantle. She has the whole exercise down to a fine art, as long as we listen to her!

Fiona, Cheryl and me waiting patiently

I had a trip to Robben Island while waiting for Qingdao to clear immigration, worth going to as it brings back how recently it all happened. The island was reached by a 30 minute ferry ride and with potentially shark-infested waters you can understand why it was impossible to escape. Back on the mainland in the afternoon, we spent the time with Qingdao crew before greeting Punta and Unicef. The breeze had built up by the time they arrived such that they took more than an hour to get to the jetty.

Anne, me and Fiona at the roof top of The Silo. Breezy!

In addition to John being late “to work” the first morning, his phone had reset itself to UTC so his alarm on the second day was two hours late. Luckily I woke up so he made it to the boat on time; another crew member was not so lucky and didn’t arrive until lunchtime.

How’s that for a bottle of Champagne?

George, John and I went on a wine trip with a Clipper alumnus and six other crew around Constantia. We visited five very different vineyards (Steenberg, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, High Constantia and Constantia Glen) and voted the “Vin de Constance” from Klein Constantia the best, although the next vineyard we tried, Buitenverwachting, told us their’s had recently been voted the best. Having whetted our appetites and shown us the certificate as proof, they then told us that there was none available!

Nicky, George and John at Klein Constantia

George also went shark diving one day which he says he enjoyed. The pictures did not make it look appealing to me. OBB were also interviewed by BBC Radio Somerset, the second interview they’ve made (the first being in London before they left).

Chandelier at Steenberg. See the grape pips?

There were some stunning chandeliers in Cape Town, as well as the one above, which looks like slices of red and green grapes, the one below was in an artisanal shopping area called The Watershed, where John bought me two dresses (Geoff, a fellow Unicef circumnavigator, has been buying one at each port for Cheryl). You can see one in the photo above of me with Cheryl and Fiona and a glass of fizz.

The Watershed

Next time, I really do promise, the full results of the Race so far.