The view from the window: Tenacious in Sydney

The view west from my office building on George Street, Sydney. What's in the red box?

The view west from my office building on George Street, Sydney. What’s in the red box?

I know what you’re thinking: why is Kaz inflicting this very dull view of office buildings on us? Look closer at the object with the red box around it.

It’s a tall ship!

Tenacious Maritime Museum Darling Harbour Sydney

Aha, there’s an enormous tall ship parked in front of the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour!

In fact, it is MY tall ship, Tenacious, operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust of Southampton, England. I helped to build this beautiful ship in the late 1990s when I lived in London, so feel quite proprietorial about her. I was one of 1,500 volunteers who pitched in over three years to sand and epoxy and paint and sweep and whatever. I’ve crossed the Atlantic in her twice, and in June this year spent two weeks sailing around remote Fijian islands in the ship.

Tenacious has now made landfall in Sydney on her first around-the-world voyage, and will be spending the next nine months in Australia.

And there she is!

And there she is!

I find it absolutely surreal that I can look from my office building in Sydney’s central business district and see this ship that holds so many memories for me.

(This is the first post in an occasional series to be called “The view from the window”.)


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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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Boxing Day on the water: ‘James Craig’ and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race

‘James Craig’ is a Sydney-based barque-rigged tall ship (the two photos above). If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you will have come across photos taken while sailing in tall ships. This year I joined ‘James Craig’ as a passenger (I felt quite wicked not having to pull ropes, or helm, or go aloft, or clean the heads, or wash the dishes …) for a day sail that also gave prime viewing of the first stage of the annual Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The morning was bright and sunny, and we motored from the ship’s berth in Darling Harbour, along Sydney harbour and out between The Heads (the two headlands that frame the entrance to Sydney harbour from the ocean). It was a perfect few hours of sun tanning, admiring the scenery and taking photos of the ship.

Facts, figures and history of 'James Craig'.

Facts, figures and history of ‘James Craig’. You can also see some of those 50,000 rivets!

Time to set some sails!

Jibs on the bowsprit.

Jibs on the bowsprit.

Crew undoing the gaskets on the fore topgallant sail.

Crew undoing the gaskets on the fore topgallant sail.

The race

Of course, the highlight of the day was seeing the yachts burst out of the harbour and into the ocean. Since 1945, yachts have competed on the day after Christmas in a race covering the roughly 630nm from Sydney to Hobart. They boats must cross the Bass Strait, notorious for high winds, dangerous currents and unpredictable seas. 2015’s race began in idyllic sunshine in Sydney, but the crews knew they would be facing a “southerly buster” later the first night.

This is one of the course markers, seen in front of South Head. There are four markers, two inner and two outer, indicating where the larger and smaller yachts must turn. Pass on the wrong side, and you must turn around, go back and try again! (The red and white lighthouse is the Hornby Lighthouse, which began operations in 1858.)

This is one of the course markers, seen in front of South Head. There are four markers, two inner and two outer, indicating where the larger and smaller yachts must turn. Pass on the wrong side, and you must turn around, go back and try again! (The red and white lighthouse is the Hornby Lighthouse, which began operations in 1858.)

(I freely admit that the quality of these next photos is not great. Maximum camera zoom, sea spray, haze, overcast sky, and trying to shoot bouncing objects while also trying to stay upright on a ship that is itself rolling and pitching was a fatal combination! But you’ll get an idea of what it’s all about.)

The first yachts to pass the heads — and the ones that gather all the glory and excitement — are the biggest ones. These are the rock stars of yacht racing.

And here they are, still in the harbour: Comanche, Perpetual Loyal, Wild Oats XI, Ragamuffin 100 and Rambler.

And here they are, still in the harbour (the ocean is to the right). From right to left: Comanche, Perpetual Loyal, Wild Oats XI, Ragamuffin 100 and Rambler.

Starting to spread out …

And if racing a high-tech 100-foot yacht isn’t hard enough, the crews have to contend with the dozens of small boats around them.

Perpetual Loyal surrounded by spectators.

Perpetual Loyal surrounded by spectators.

That explosion beside Comanche is a small power boat hitting a wave.

That explosion beside Comanche is a small power boat hitting a wave.

No, that's not a cliff face behind that tiny power boat, it's Comanche. Look at how big those waves are, and how small that boat is! And none of those people are wearing a life jacket.

No, that’s not a cliff face behind that tiny power boat, it’s Comanche. Look at how big those waves are, and how small that boat is! And none of those people are wearing a life jacket.

This is Wild Oats (L) and Ragmuffin (R), and hordes of spectator boats.

This is Wild Oats (L) and Ragmuffin (R), and hordes of spectator boats.

Here’s Wild Oats again. The people give some scale to the size of the yacht!

Tiny people, giant sail!

Tiny people, giant sail!

In case you’ve got the idea that there are only five boats in this race, think again! Dozens of yachts of various sizes take part. The fastest takes just over two days to reach Hobart; the slowest just over four days.

Here they come, straggling out into the ocean.

Here they come, straggling out into the ocean.

No spectator swarm for the middle of the pack!

No spectator swarm for the middle of the pack!

Heading off to Tassie, spinnakers flying.

Heading off to Tassie, spinnakers flying.

Back on ‘James Craig’

It was time for us to head for home. And yup, it started to rain. The weather did have the advantage of clearing the decks and giving a new look to the ship.

I could not have taken this photo of the poopdeck before the rain, as it was packed with people.

I could not have taken this photo of the poopdeck before the rain, as it was packed with people.

What IS this thing? An exhaust? A speaking tube? A garbage chute?

I don't know what it is, but it's eye catching. Even in the rain.

I don’t know what it is, but it’s eye catching. Even in the rain.

Here is the ship’s second bell, which I hadn’t spotted until cowering under an awning while hiding from the rain.

Turn the glass and strike the bell!

Turn the glass and strike the bell!

I do know that this thing is: a bilge pump, which relies on human power to work. Luckily for the crew (all volunteers), they don’t actually use it.

Bilge pump.

Bilge pump.

These wonderful lines belong to a wooden boat mounted on the deck house.

Perfectly symmetrical planking.

Perfectly symmetrical planking.

Rain adds an interesting element to things you might otherwise take for granted.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge loomed over us as we neared the turn into Darling Harbour.

You may have to look twice to make out the bridge and two flags.

You may have to look twice to make out the bridge and two flags. That curved metal thing is not part of the ship!

Looking up the fore mast as we passed under the bridge.

Looking up the fore mast as we passed under the bridge.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into an Australian Boxing Day tradition. I know I had a great day! You can read the full story behind the ‘James Craig’ — its working life, abandonment and resurrection by a dedicated team of volunteers — at the Sydney Heritage Fleet website.

Race update: the wild weather of the first night played havoc with a number of boats. At time of writing, 1 day and 6 hours into the race, 22 yachts have retired, including two of the maxis. The mainsail of Wild Oats (which has been the first yacht to reach Hobart for the past eight years) split during a squall, and although no one was injured the yacht returned to Sydney. Perpetual Loyal pulled out with a broken rudder. Comanche hit something in the dark, suffering a broken rudder and damaged daggerboard, but the crew decided to continue the race as best they could. Hours later, Rambler, too, struck something, but is limping on.
The five yachts closest to Hobart are: Comanche (US), Rambler (US), Ragamuffin (AUS), Maserati (Italy) and Ichi Ban (AUS). If you’d like more information, visit the official race site.


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Travel theme: Faces

Two women at the Amber Fort, Jaipur. They are listening to a third woman off to the right.

Two women at the Amber Fort, Jaipur. They are listening to a third woman off to the right.

I had a marvellous time going through my travel photos to find ones to fit Ailsa’s travel theme of faces. Old memories came back and the travels seemed like yesterday. I’ve tried to choose faces with interesting expressions. The people in the feature image at top all look quite serious, despite this being the first official tasting during our three-day trip to the Champagne region.

India – Tordi Gar

These women are looking back at another woman who has just walked away from them.

These women are looking back at another woman who has just walked away from them.

What a fascinating contrast of faces here!

What a fascinating contrast of faces here!

Nepal

The focus of the photo is the man, the tour guide for our trek in the Himalayan foothills. I grabbed the shot of him napping on the public bus, and also caught the woman. Is she curious? Disapproving? I'm not sure!

The focus of the photo is the man, the tour guide for our trek in the Himalayan foothills. I grabbed the shot of him napping on the public bus, and also caught the woman who turned to look right at me. Is she curious? Disapproving? I’m not sure!

They are looking at their photos on the digital camera of someone in my group. Amidst the excitement, one boy looked directly up at me as if to say,"What are you people doing here?"

These are grass cutters in Chitwan. They are looking at their photos on the digital camera of someone in my group. Amidst the excitement, one boy looked directly up at me.

Sailing – ‘Tenacious’ in the Atlantic

The woman is Barbara Campbell, who has captained both of the Jubilee Sailing Trust's tall ships. Her expression is pure concentration as she tackles a torn sail with needle and thread.

The woman is Barbara Campbell, who has captained both of the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ships. Her expression is pure concentration as she tackles a torn sail with needle and thread.

It's raining, the decks are slippery and wet, the ship is heeled over -- but look at those smiles!

It’s raining, the decks are slippery and wet, the ship is heeled over — but look at those smiles!

Mauritius

Fisherman on one of the many commercial fishing boats in Port Louis harbour, Mauritius. They watched us sail in in 'Lord Nelson' with reactions from enthusiasm to indifference.

Fisherman on one of the many commercial fishing boats in Port Louis harbour, Mauritius. They watched us sail in in ‘Lord Nelson’ with reactions from enthusiasm to indifference.

Peru

A couple of poor quality scans of old prints here, apologies! But I like how in both, the two people have different reactions to being photographed.

Reed island, Lake Titicaca: The small girl looks unsure of what is expected, but the older one seems to have learned that tourist photos mean money.

Reed island, Lake Titicaca: The small girl looks unsure of what is expected, but the older one seems to have learned that tourist photos mean money.

Amantani island, Lake Titicaca: The woman was determined that we would take of photo of her and her son; the boy, however, had other ideas!

Amantani island, Lake Titicaca: The woman was determined that we would take of photo of her and her son; the boy, however, had other ideas!

Lord Nelson, Indian Ocean, sunrise
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Early mornings around the world

Mist in the hills around Cairns.

Mist in the hills around Cairns.

For someone who insists she is not an early bird, I have a remarkable number of photographs taken very early in the morning! I haven’t inflicted them all on you, but there are quite a few, from various travels. They are in no particular order other than alphabetical by place name.

A man on the beach, Durban.

A man on the beach, Durban.

The pier, Eastbourne.

The pier, Eastbourne.

Boats in Galle harbour, Sri Lanka.

Boats in Galle harbour, Sri Lanka.

The grounds of the Park Hyatt, Goa.

The grounds of the Park Hyatt, Goa.

Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef.

On lookout during the 4am-8am watch, 'Lord Nelson', Indian Ocean.

On lookout during the 4am-8am watch, ‘Lord Nelson’, Indian Ocean.

'Sudarshini' and 'Tarangini' of the Indian Navy, off Kochi.

‘Sudarshini’ and ‘Tarangini’ of the Indian Navy, off Kochi.

Fishing boats near Mauritius.

Fishing boats near Mauritius.

Sailboats at Opua, New Zealand.

Sailboats at Opua, New Zealand.

Mt Fishtail seen from Pokhara, Nepal.

Mt Fishtail seen from Pokhara, Nepal.

San Luis de Potosi, Mexico.

San Luis de Potosi, Mexico.

Sunrise over Sydney harbour (from my bed at the Shangri La hotel).

Sunrise over Sydney harbour (from my bed at the Shangri La hotel).

Rising sun captured in a gum tree, Sydney.

Rising sun captured in a gum tree, Sydney.

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Aside

Messing about in a boat

On the move - Lord Nelson in the Indian Ocean.

On the move – Lord Nelson in the Indian Ocean.

This morning, I made a provisional booking for another long voyage on this tall ship. This time, the Jubilee Sailing Trust‘s Lord Nelson (‘Nellie’) will be on the move from the Pacific coast of Panama, through the Panama Canal, coast-hopping along Costa Rica then over to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, before finishing in Cuba.

My booking is ‘provisional’ due to two factors: a watchleader spot still available (half price!), and my employer agreeing to five weeks off work next January/February. I figure they survived me being away for nine weeks to do the Indian Ocean in 2012, so five should be a mere formality. 😉

(Update: although I was indeed granted 5 weeks off work, the JST cancelled this voyage due to insufficient bookings. Not impressed.)

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Six covers in search of a novel

I’ve stopped writing novels for a while, but I’ve not stopped thinking about ideas for novels. ‘In Your Sights’ is the only one I am seriously considering, and my editor keeps urging me to stop considering and start writing! If nothing else, they give me an excuse to present six unrelated photographs in a, ahem, ‘novel’ way!

A serial rapist; a secret lover; a cyber stalker who posts disturbing photographs online. And a woman who must distinguish friend from enemy before she becomes the next victim. (photo: Cockatoo Island, Sydney)

A serial rapist; a secret lover; a cyber stalker who posts disturbing photographs online. And a woman who must distinguish friend from enemy before she becomes the next victim. (photo: Cockatoo Island, Sydney)

In the sequel to my novel “Too Close”, Greg’s mother Mona is forced to confront her past when a young woman appears, claiming to be the baby Mona abandoned at birth. (photo: fallen memorial, Waverley Cemetery, Sydney)

In the sequel to my novel Too Close, Greg’s mother Mona is forced to confront her past when a young woman appears and claims to be the baby Mona abandoned at birth. (photo: fallen memorial, Waverley Cemetery, Sydney)

My memoirs. (photo: Chitwan, Nepal, sunrise)

My memoirs. (photo: Chitwan, Nepal, sunrise)

A group of marine scientists charters a tall ship for a mission in the Indian Ocean. Only two people survive a vicious attack by pirates: Dr Miranda Flemming, head of the research team; Matt Smythe-Rogers, head of the security team. They are drawn to each other; they despise each other; to survive in a life raft on the open ocean until a friendly ship finds them, they have no choice but to rely on each other.(photo: INS Sudarshini, sunrise, off the coast India)

A group of marine scientists charters a tall ship for a mission in the Indian Ocean. Only two people survive a vicious attack by pirates: Dr Miranda Flemming, head of the research team; Matt Smythe-Rogers, head of the security team. They are drawn to each other; they despise each other; to survive in a life raft on the open ocean until a friendly ship finds them, they have no choice but to rely on each other. (photo: INS Sudarshini, sunrise, off the coast of India)

As a girl, Eva dreamed of being the world’s most famous flamenco dancer. As a woman, she will sacrifice everything to fulfill her desires. (photo: Granada, Spain)

As a girl, Eva dreamed of being the world’s most famous flamenco dancer. As a woman, she will sacrifice everything to fulfill her desires. (photo: Granada, Spain)

Light, amusing chick-lit about the ups and downs of a woman who owns a flower shop, and her search for True Love. (photo: my Osteospermums again!)

Light, amusing chick-lit about the ups and downs of a woman who owns a flower shop, and her search for True Love. (photo: my Osteospermums again!)