Australia Day Long Weekend

It began on Friday 26th January – Elwyn’s 30th birthday. Tristan, Blaine, Alythea and Tom arrived for breakfast, filling the house with chatter and burbles including Tom’s increasingly coherent vocabulary. As well as Rob and I enjoying these unexpected gatherings, this house, which has seen our children grow up, seems more fulfilled too.


Rob and I gave Tom some breakfast while Tristan and Blaine walked around to the shops to buy theirs. Now that Alythea has finally settled into sleeping most nights so that the rest of them can sleep too, the whole family is much calmer and busy planning their year’s travels. This will include Tristan and Blaine having a long weekend in Melbourne…guess who will be taking care of Tom and Alythea? I’m thinking we might have to call for reinforcements…


Tristan and Tom gathered the wood they wanted from the back yard with help from Rob, Blaine and I chatted while Alythea had her sleep.


By mid morning I’d packed for Rob’s and my weekend sailing trip and we farewelled Tristan and his family before setting off for Fremantle Sailing Club. It was hot on the boat, so good to get moving on the water.


Rockingham was windy, but a hot eastlerly. We called Elwyn for her birthday. She sounded a bit lonely, but was going to Cambridge that day to look at some technology for her work, then having a birthday-cum-Australia-Day party with friends and fellow Aussies at a steak-house. So it was shaping up to be a good day. The snow had melted, although it was still dark.


After drinks on a friends boat we had sailing friends Kim and Annette over to Dusky Dolphin for a cold dinner (it was too hot to coock anything!). We watched the fireworks over Fremantle and Perth – very pretty – but they were nothing compared with “God’s” fireworks – lightening developing in the north and moving our way! We fired up the laptop and checked the radar web site – the lightening was moving southwest and would miss us, and the forecast was for nasty squalls around the lightening…Just in case we put out more anchor chain and set the anchor buddy (a heavy block of lead that weighs down the anchor chain). Kim and Annette went back to their boat to do the same. Fitful sleep with the wind and heat…


Saturday was still windy by cooler to start with. We took the dinghy ashore and met family friend Challis. She’s known the children for most of their lives, and has babysat them quite a bit. So we had lots to chat about over a slow breakfast. Back to the dinghy and waves were breaking on the shore by now with the increasing wind. A wet start to the trip back turned worse as waves broke over the dinghy. By the time we reached Dusky Dolphin we were soaked, much to the amusement of a fellow sailor!


Dry clothes on, fresh water to wash out the saltwater taste, and we left that bouncy anchorage for Woodman Point. This was hot but flat, so some boat tidying could be done – hang out the dripping clothes, have some lunch and a quiet read, then watch the other yachts arrive late in the day. The last was our cruising leader, Rob Hills. His propellor was not working properly, so he sailed in and anchored under sail in the dusk. We were most impressed, as we had taken an hour to anchor in broad daylight – actually that was 4 or 5 goes at anchoring till we found a spot where the anchor would hold!


The evening was cooler so we enjoyed a barbecue while watching an amazing sunset out to the west, around a huge thunder cloud. Just in case a thunderstorm came our way Rob went forward to set the anchor buddy while I stayed at the wheel. This time he somehow caught his finger in the chain as it paid out, the heavy weight pulling it. “Wendy bring some bandaids!” he called back, holding a ahnkie to his hand. I jumped below, grabbed the first aid bag then rushed forward, my mouth dry as I thought of what injury I might find. Rob held out a finger, dripping red. I dried it then wrapped a bandaid around it, tight. “I’ll do the rest,” I told him. So Rob instructed me how to tie off the anchor buddy and make it ship shape.


He managed to cook the meat on the barbecue but I did the dishes.


After all that it was a quiet evening – the thunder storms went elsewhere. It even looked as if we might get some sleep until a party started up ashore about 11pm. The music was deafening! It finished at 2am, by which time I had suggested we might up anchor and sail back to the club just to get some peace.


So quiet start on Sunday, our 36th wedding anniversary, then morning tea on Frank and Lucinda’s boat. Now that they are both retired they are really enjoying the time together – nice to see. Cold lunch to try to beat the heat. It had been at least this hot on our wedding day, when Rob wore a tuxedo and I a crystal nylon wedding dress. At least we could just wear shorts and tee shorts today!


Motored the boat back to the club, did minimal cleanup (Rob being very careful not to further damage his very sore finger) then off home to the airconditioning. It had been great to catch up with friends and live under the sky, but we were both suffering from heat sickness so glad to be in the cool.


Sailing north to the tropics does not appeal…our forthcoming sailing trip in Scotland does!


PS Elwyn sent us an award-winnable photo from England…










– Fireworks,  Lightning, Sunset, a Comet, and the greatest of Aussie icons, the Beach all in one image.


In addition to the obvious features in the photo, look between the two displays of lighting up the sky to see the third – McNaught’s Comet. The photo was taken just north of Hillary’s Marina, which you can see the harbour wall on the left with fireworks being launched.

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