Wonderful Week on Sydney Harbour
We have just returned to our home marina after spending a wonderful week on Sydney Harbour and this time instead of heading for our regular haunts of Athol Bay, Farm Cove or Watsons Bay we decided to head further up Sydney Harbour towards the west and drop anchor opposite Birkenhead Point. I must say that I am pleased we did as the harbour takes on a whole different feel west of the iconic Harbour Bridge. What you get is peace and quiet, rest and relaxation and an eerily dead calm which makes it feel like you are at a marina rather than at anchor. Simply superb! West of the bridge is very much a stark contrast to that of Sydney Harbour which lies to the east of the bridge which is busy, hectic and always a navigational challenge.
Photo above shows the two locations we anchored at during our stay on the harbour marked in yellow. One location to the west of the bridge and one location to the east making it a perfect mix of rest and relaxation with a little excitement thrown in for good measure!
On our trip down from our home marina (approx. 4hrs) we had the most beautiful of sea conditions and Pendana purred along taking in the sea miles which lay ahead with ease. As we approached the north and south heads which tower out of the water like rock giants I suggested to Claire that she take the helm through the harbour, up the west channel, under the bridge and to our anchorage opposite Birkenhead Point. Claire was quick to accept the challenge (to my disappointment) and hoped, as we all did, that Pendana would have a reasonable run through what can be an extremely busy harbour.
Claire took over the helm and started her turn to starboard to ensure she lined up with the lead lights leading into the harbour.
Claire slowly brings Pendana to starboard to pick up the entrance markers.
North head towers above everything else.
Pendana pushed slightly right of centre due to rather fast and large navy frigate.
Pendana tracking up the west channel and to Claire’s delight not a ferry insight!
Pendana passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Pendana west of the iconic bridge and in new territory!
As we approached our anchorage I took over the helm so that Claire could prepare the anchor. What was clear was that the water on the west of the harbour is not very deep and that Pendana was going to anchor in four metres of water with spots of less than two. As Pendana draws (depth under water) 2.1mtrs making sure we position ourselves correctly would be paramount as the idea of hitting the bottom was not an appealing one.
With anchor set and disaster of hitting bottom avoided we sat back and enjoyed our new spot opposite Birkenhead point and commented on how incredibly quiet it was and how flat the water in this part of the harbour was.
Pendana’s view from anchorage, towards Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre and Marina.
Did someone say shopping centre? I thought it would be a good idea to visit the shopping centre for a few hours to give the girls a little retail therapy. One would have thought that at aged 48yrs I would have learnt my lesson! Birkenhead Point was now a factory outlet centre for just about every fashion brand known to man as such, the trip to the centre was spent with me handing over my credit card, standing outside the shops the girls were in, as the music played in these sorts of stores is akin to a dentist’s drill as far as I am concerned and time spent with me waiting patiently, smiling and waving on occasion to help mask the pain and suffering I was being subjected to. After four thousand, three hundred and twenty five years the girls signalled that they had had enough and were wanting to return to Pendana – honestly it was like music to my ears so fanning interest in their purchases I hurried them along back to the direction of the tender while shielding their view to any more stores.
Once back aboard Pendana Bianca, all of ten years of age, decided she would cook dinner for us all as a thank you for taking her shopping – it just keeps delivering me lessons. That said she cooked the chicken perfectly and we all sat back, enjoyed dinner and watched the sun set over beautiful Sydney.
Beautiful Bianca concentrating with all her might!
Sun setting casting a wonderful glow on the water.
View towards Iron Cove Bridge alive with colour.
The next few days were spent tendering around and exploring the area when we came across this beautiful old yacht, anything in my book that floats has a certain beauty, which had clearly seen better days.
Apparently these white bags are filled with air to keep this lovely old lady of the seas from sinking. I must admit that it is going to take the owner of this vessel one very large cheque book to see her in working order again.
There is much talk in boating circles about folks who leave their boats on swing moorings to rot when others who are regular boaters can’t for love or money get a swing mooring and while I am sympathetic to those who have to travel miles to get to their boat I am also sympathetic to those who for whatever reason have let maintenance slip a little, or a lot. Either way these old girls add character and colour to the harbour, and I for one, would be sad to see them go.
Photo above of Pendana sunning herself in the glow of the evening light.
Claire at the ready to catch the tender lines and Bianca above looking on.
After a few days of rest and relaxation Claire announced that she was missing the hustle and bustle of Sydney Harbour and wanted to relocate. With that we up anchored and headed to Double Bay. As Claire had bought Pendana into the harbour I was not about to relinquish the helm on our short trip east towards Double Bay.
Pendana transiting what we refer to as the gauntlet.
The gauntlet is a small stretch of water where all marine traffic is confined to a relatively small area. The waterways authority refer to this area as the transit zone.
The gauntlet (transit zone) not only has a load of recreational traffic but it also has the added feature of being directly in the commercial passenger ferry terminal area (Circular Quay). The ferry terminal here can have up to ten ferries vying for position and while the crews on board these ferries have seen it all before being so close to them in a relatively confined area with a full displacement hull makes for an interesting time. As it happens our transit of the gauntlet was without incident and we had a clear run, under the bridge, past the entrance to Circular Quay and on past the famous Sydney Opera House.
Pendana passing Sydney Opera House.
As we approached Double Bay we saw a Nordhavn 55 approaching and thought it may be Peter and Margaret Sheppard aboard Skie but not to be. The N55 in question was Exile IV and had a delivery crew aboard who had bought her from Adelaide to Sydney for a brief stop as they were headed to the Whitsundays. Always nice to see another Nordhavn as not only do they stand out head and shoulders above everything else but the friendship and comradeship between owners is very special.
As we passed the N55, which was headed to Rushcutters Bay marina both Claire and I commented that the last time we were in Double Bay was with our old mates Adam and Eve aboard N47 Eden for a spot of lunch! Both Adam and Eve had transited the Pacific Ocean aboard their Eden which was a remarkable task indeed and other than the fact they like sharks. No, not like; love sharks. They are a very charming couple even though, annoyingly good looking!
Adam and Eve aboard their N47 Eden, Sydney Harbour 2011.
Once anchored safely in Double Bay all we could say was wow, what a beautiful spot we were happy to be here and the location provided us with a great place to spend the rest of our time in Sydney Harbour. Double Bay is certainly busier than to the west of the bridge but not as busy as Farm Cove or Athol Bay which makes it an almost perfect spot to drop anchor – need to keep that quiet!
Double Bay and its corresponding points being Point Piper and Darling Point have some of Sydney’s most expensive property with housing reaching $30-40M in these parts the norm so in our down time we would grab the binoculars and peer into the homes that surrounded us a little like school aged children playing peeping tom. Other than the odd gardener sneaking a smoke and maids making beds the owners were not home! There is a lesson in that somewhere.
Recent sale of this house was a cool $33M with suggestions that either Elton John or Ricky Martin (not pictured) have bought it.
With a cold front closing in we decided after a week to head back north to the Hawkesbury and our home marina before the weather got worse. As we departed Sydney Harbour we were confronted with 2-4meter /6-13ft seas which made the trip back not as ideal as the trip down but like always, Pendana soldiered on and delivered us all safely to port.
With winter setting in Sydney’s boating weather offshore improves, so long as one avoids the notorious southerly’s that can come through a little like a late night freight train. As such, we are planning to revisit Newcastle and Port Stephens over the next few months.