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Christmas Day at Bondi Beach

Golden sand, azure seas and blue sky: this is what it's all about.

Golden sand, azure seas and blue sky: this is what it’s all about.

For many Sydneysiders (and tourists), Christmas Day means a visit to the beach. And what better stretch of sand than Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach? I lived here during my first residence in Sydney (1999 to 2004), and now I’ve finally been able to move back. 🙂

On Christmas Day, festive headgear is part of the dress code.

Even the police get into the spirit of the season.

Not a snowflake in sight, but the trappings of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas are unavoidable.

The Red Baron dropped in for a visit, too.

There’s no escaping the crowd, however.

This is NOT my idea of fun!

This is NOT my idea of fun!

Even the waves were full of people.

Crowded waters

Crowded waters

The sweep of the beach seen from the north end.

Remember I said I moved back? My building is the white one at the far left of this photo.

Remember I said I moved back? My building is the white one at the far left of this photo.

So now you know what Christmas Day at Bondi Beach is like!

Bondi mural

Bondi mural

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Sailing around Fiji

I spent two weeks in June on the tall ship Tenacious sailing around some of the islands that make up Fiji. You’ll no doubt see a few photos on this blog as time goes on (!), but here’s a video I made that sums up the voyage. If the embedded video doesn’t work or you’d prefer the larger version, you can view it directly on youtube.


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click here for other posts about Fiji

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Admiration: Captain Barbara Campell

Leaving Bermuda on Tenacious. Barbara often stands on top of the deck house to get a clear view ahead!

Leaving Bermuda on Tenacious. Barbara often stands on top of the deck house to get a clear view ahead!

This week’s Photo Challenge is to “depict something or someone you admire”. I’d like to introduce you to Captain Barbara Campbell, for whom I have immense admiration.

I first met Barbara about 20 years ago, and have since sailed with her on a number of voyages on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ships Lord Nelson and Tenacious. Among the JST’s thousands of voyage crew, she is known affectionately as simply “Captain Barbara”.

In a storm, Atlantic Ocean.

In a storm, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

Barbara began her maritime career as a deck cadet with P&O in the 1970s, a time when a life at sea was not generally considered a career option for women. She worked her way up to deck officer and then in 1986 obtained her Master’s Ticket — the first woman in Scotland to do so. While working on ferries and cruise ships, Barbara also “moon lighted” on tall ships, doing odd voyages on Lord Nelson, for example, from 1992. She became captain of Lord Nelson in 1999.

In conference with the first mate, Atlantic Ocean.

In conference with the first mate, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

Being a ship’s captain is not all about giving commands: Barbara does more than her fair share of rope pulling and mast climbing. She often makes me feel guilty! I remember one morning on Lord Nelson in the Indian Ocean, my watch was setting a sail before breakfast — with more duty than enthusiasm, it must be admitted. A little white blur shot out of the deckhouse and clapped onto the line with us. Yup, Captain Barbara. As you may imagine, our efforts suddenly intensified!

On long voyages such as ocean passages, there’s time for lighter activities, too. Each JST ship carries up to 40 paying “voyage crew”, and Barbara joins the fun.

As Neptune, King of the Ocean Waves, with consort and assorted members of 'his' court, for the Crossing the Line [Equator] ceremony, Lord Nelson, Indian Ocean.

As Neptune, King of the Ocean Waves, with consort and assorted members of ‘his’ court, for the Crossing the Line [Equator] ceremony, Lord Nelson, Indian Ocean.

Dancing a reel with the voyage crew, Atlantic Ocean.

Dancing a reel with the voyage crew, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

Judging a kite flying competition, Atlantic Ocean.

Judging a kite flying competition, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

Barbara Campbell is a true trailblazer and role model for women in what had been very much a man’s job. Physically petite, she has tremendous presence and authority: when you see her with first mates towering beside her, there’s no doubt who’s in charge! I’ll be sailing on Tenacious around Fiji for two weeks in June, and I hope Captain Barbara is onboard.

Leading a church service, Atlantic Ocean.

Leading a church service, Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean.

Read more:


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Dancing at sea

The rhythm of rope pulling (Lord Nelson, Pacific Ocean)

The rhythm of rope pulling (‘Lord Nelson’, Pacific Ocean)

When you’re sailing on a tall ship, it can sometimes be a “dance” just to stay upright! In the photo above, you can see how everyone hauling on that rope is moving in rhythm (apart from the chatting couple at the top of the photo, who appear to be sitting out this particular dance). We even have a special rope-hauling chant to keep us synchronised:”Two-Six-HEAVE!”

On one transatlantic voyage, we had an accomplished bagpiper among the crew. So one day, near 36.07N, 47.21W (between Bermuda and the Azores), there was Scottish dancing at the mainmast! In this shot, the couples are rehearsing the steps without music.

Dancing a reel (Tenacious, Atlantic Ocean)

Dancing a reel (‘Tenacious’, Atlantic Ocean)


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