Although we are in Perth for 7 months this time (the longest stint since we started cruising in 2003) our time at home is zipping along. It has been wonderful spending time with family and friends and with the inevitable gathering of fun tickets, we look forward to returning to El Salvador to see Stolen Kiss and prepare to head south and across the Pacific. Bolivar, our agent in Galapagos, has smoothed the way for us to visit there without the general cruiser hooha of what can/must happen before we get there/being there. We have opted for 46 day permit, which gives us maximum time if needed. Easy peasy…..
Soon after our arrival we enjoyed the beautiful wedding of Peter’s youngest son, Barnaby to Anita and had to find some glad rags. We scrub up well!!
Barns and Anita had visited us in La Paz for 3 weeks last year and we look forward to seeing them in Bora Bora next year on our way across the Pacific.
There were the Bently Cars that Peter used to look after...and of course the 3 little grandsons all enjoyed the day.
With 4 grandchildren and 6 big kids, there are lots of birthdays to celebrate! One of the grandchildren asked if grandpa and I ever had a birthday. As we are never in Australia for ours…..does this mean we have eternal youth????????????? That would be Aunty Anita and Grandpa surrounded by the kiddies.
Peter has been working down south in our magnificent wine region on his sister and brother-in-law’s property, putting the finishing touches to a new extension. Having 2 weeks holidays (one can never have enough!!) I joined him there before we both headed to a favourite town on the south coast – Albany.
Peter managed to do the tyling without getting housemaid's knees, which he did get fitting the new floor into the previous boat.
Peter had waited until I was down there before climbing rather precariously on the steep roof in order to oil the cedar cladding. Not sure why I was standing there in case he fell...to catch him or cushion his fall????
Not one to miss an opportunity to play with toys…there was lots of farm stuff to do! The grandchildren also came down for a visit, so much fun was to be had by all.
Albany was first known as Frederickstown in 1826 with the first settlement in WA and was to be our first capital except for its lack of fresh water. Hard to imagine as my memories of Albany from when I first started going there in the 1960’s was of a cold, rain sodden place.
The Dutch visited in 1627, French in1803 and finally the British in 1826, who sailed all the way there from Sydney to claim it as their own before others stepped in! Whalers and sealers who were working the southern ocean in the 1820’s started coming into King George sound and making it a permanent base. I remember as a child seeing the whales pulled up on the ramp and being disembodied. Thankfully the whaling ceased in 1978.
Albany was also a departure point for the Australian and New Zealand fleet taking our boys off to Egypt and Gallipoli to fight with the British in WW1 in 1914. In recognition of this important historic event, the small channel leading from King George Sound into Princess Royal Harbour was named Ataturk Channel. Mt Clarence, affording stunning views over Albany has a wonderful exhibit and monument in commemoration of WW1.
The recently established wind farm is a bit of a giveaway as to the sailing conditions along this coast! After all, it, along with Esperance to the east, is the border of the famous Southern Ocean, where I learnt to sail dinghies. It took a while to realize that the rest of the world does not sail in 30 knots of breeze. Fremantle, in similar conditions, is the 3rd windiest city in the world behind San Francisco and Wellington, NZ!! Why do we want to come back????????????
There was even a little message from Nelson Mandela...not sure why it was at the wind farm...
However, the southern coast of WA is awesome, albeit treacherous.
Stunning sandy beaches
..and many interesting buildings telling the tales of its history
For those of you who are not Australian, we found many kangaroos happy munching on the beautiful green grassy fields, close to housing estates. There were those who were lazing around and others who stopped for a scratch…..and some very big boys. These are the small variety, unlike their big red cousins in the north!!!
Apart from enjoying the beautiful drive through the forest of the SW of WA, the main reason was to visit an old school friend, David and meet his wife, Pieta. I have not seen David for 26 years. David taught me how to sail in the 70’s, crewing with him on a VJ. In retrospect, we had a dream time in our young days, spending our time sailing and riding motor bikes on the many tracks around Esperance or along the pristine beaches. His sister, Caroline and I shared a bike. We would load up lunch and the dog and off we would go for the day. We had 30km of beach to ride along and countless sand tracks to conquer (or not!!) If there was anyone on one beach, we would go to another. We had lots of spills, lots of laughs and a heap of fun!
David had recently said to his family that there was something wrong with the picture here as he had taught me to sail and I was the one off cruising!! Not one to sit around, he and Pieta have purchased the famous Sweet Caroline, a 1982 Dubois 44 IOR boat that they are re-modeling and re-fitting for cruising. The first thing they have organised is a new cabin top which will give them a semi pilot house. We hope to see them out sailing and cruising in the near future. Sailing in the Southern Ocean and off the West Coast of WA prepares you for sailing anywhere in THE world (or we hope so!!).
Here are some pics of Sweet Caroline. Note the 4 spreader rig.......I wonder who will have the pleasure of going to the top??????????