Sydney

Christmas in Sydney. Seems like a good idea. We’re not going back home now as we have to be back shortly for visas.

It’s going to be a maritime theme holiday, so first off to the Maritime MuseumDSC08064

Lots of cool things
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Like this sub, the HMAS Onslow. One of six retired Oberon class subs in the Australian navy
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You go down here
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Through watertight openings
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It’s fantastically complicated
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Like the communications room
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The engine room was enormous. Diesel electric.
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She was launched in 1969 and retired in 1999. Sadly she never had a chance to sink a ship.

Next day is Christmas, we’ve turned down 2 invitations, one in Bangkok which was tempting. But the idea of sharing someone elses family time doesn’t seem right. So Christmas eve we bought picnic supplies. We head off with a backpack full of treats through downtown
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Then to the waterfront
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To see this
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We stayed here on the pier and enjoyed the view across the water to the opera house and people watched.

People are taking selfies with these extension things that have been invented since I left home. There were none of these in Latin America or in the outback so it’s the first I’ve seen of this strange phenomena
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Another couple
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And another. Crazy. But anyway
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We walk along. It’s easy to think we’ve fallen into a tourist trap and will be disappointed, but not at all. The building is spectacular
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It’s apparently a bit clunky and thick-walled compared to Jorn Utzon’s original plans but you’d never know it
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Up close. This is where I had my Christmas day picnic, in the shade of one of the  ‘shells’, looking out over the harbour. Very nice
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I’d been looking forward to the next day, Boxing Day, for a long time, and set off really early to a spot I’d looked into earlier. On a hill-top overlooking Sydney harbour, here
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Which was here, top right
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The Sydney Hobart race! Yay!

The 70th anniversary, even
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We’re here not only to see them leave, but to see this: Comanche. The 100′ (less 2cm to be on the safe side during measurement) new toy of billionaire Jim Clark (photo stolen form the web)

Her transom is almost impossibly massive. Super fast on a reach undoubtably and built to break records. She was only launched a few months ago and this is her first race.

The talent on board is ridiculous. Ken Read on helm, Stan Honey navigating (we remember sailing against him on San Francisco Bay in ’82 when he wasn’t the highest-paid most brilliant navigator in the world, just a very fast kid in a 505) and Aussie Jimmy Spithill to out-brash even the Yanks
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We have a choice where to view the race start from. Either the start line from around the corner, or here, and watch them drag to the turning mark. We pick the drag.

And moments after the start Comanche roars into view, ahead of Wild Oats. There are 8 maxis and 110 others under 60′. The crowd around me are remarkable un-partisan. They are rooting for Wild Oats but are openly awestruck by the giant beautiful Comanche and are loving watching her power across the bay
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Then the other maxis come into view
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Comanche pulling further ahead. Breathtaking
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Comanche, Wild Oats and Perpetual Loyal race to the mark
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And the three of them round, close hauled for the shoreline
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The spectator fleet tries to keep them in view
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Behind, the rest of the fleet make their way out, looking sadly small and slow despite all being more than capable of this often dangerous 628 mile haul
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Comanche, built for breeze, sails into a high and slows to a crawl. Wild Oats, narrower and faster in light air sails past and on to her 8th Sydney Hobart win.

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