2019 Aus Nelson Bay Rendezvous
Nelson Bay Rendezvous
Then to our friends near Jilliby
We grew to a happy party of eight, Alison and Randall on the right and Dina and Malcolm on either side of Peter and Martina. Meeting with friends we have made on route is one of the most delightful aspects of cruising, but it is bitter sweet because we are not likely to see Alison and Randall again until we enter the Med. Lunch at Mavericks right on the foreshore overlooking the marina was an opportunity to explore eachothers’ voyages over some tasty vegan food. At one point I commented that the crystal blue marina reminded me of Santa Barbara in California many years ago and was promptly told that bush fires are presently raging behind there as well.
Back at home on board we packed lightly for our train trip to Wyong the next day and then watched ‘The Vow’ in the evening, a true story about a young woman who lost her memory after the car driven by her husband crashed. She had to re-learn why she left home, dropped out of law school and became a sculptor and fell in love with her husband all over again and has since had a family with him despite not remembering being married to him the first time.
From the train window we could see areas where cool (or back) burns had been practised. The tree canopy was green and healthy, the tree trunks blackened by the smoke and the ground a bright green carpet of new growth. Once inside their fenced home with the gate safely closed behind us Shep remembered and welcomed us and Murphy just welcomed us anyway. He is not yet six months old. A rescue dog part mastiff, another part Rhodesian ridgeback with a dusting of great Dane and has a distinct similarity to Grommit don’t you think!
Jane was home from hospital the day before after her double knee replacement ten days before that and in the few days we stayed with them her progress was amazing. Walking around as needed with two sticks she was doing her best to put as little weight on them as possible. A retired teacher she has many craft projects on the go and the fine detail and quality of her work reflects an ordered and imaginative mind. She brought me bang up to date on the subject of sewing machines; her new Brother has no handle, or pedal but instead a touch pad, and it can talk to her computer through the memory stick and do all kinds of stitches. I thought I had come up to date with my 1961 hand operated Pfaff 6…with REVERSE!
I cannot remember how many lovely walks we had with the dogs around the 20 acres (8.5 hectares) of paddock they own. The first was with Greg and we were walking on land that had probably once been cedar forest, then was logged out and used for dairy before being sectioned off and sold, which is when Greg and Jane bought it 30 odd years ago. New laws prevented the main farm next door from selling any more land so they turned the use over to kiwi fruit and now they grow turf on part of the land while much lies fallow, a haven for wildlife.
A seasonal stream runs through the land into and out of the pond and when in full flood a good canoe ride can be had around the centre of the paddock. A bower bird has created what he thinks is an adequate courting canopy of dried grass with lots of pieces of blue plastic around and about, some intentionally left available in front of the house by Greg and Murphy when he’s finished chewing. Last time we were visiting there were kangaroos around but not this time. However the abundance of birds was still evident and the chorus of kookaburras just after five in the morning was a lovely sound.
It was lovely to just sit and chat for long relaxing periods with our dear friends, after our excursions with them earlier in the year we didn’t need to go out to look around, just being ‘at home’ was perfect.
On our last morning with them Greg and I planned a bacon (for the meaties) and egg breakfast with muffins and local cherry tomatoes, so I got up early just after six and set off, just me and the dogs for a lingering, meandering walk in the cool, still damp of the morning. A cuckoo called and I found part of a tiny creamy white with brown speckles egg telling me the fantails we had seen were nesting.
Murphy was hardly awake and had none of his usual puppy exuberance, which usually involved jumping up and grabbing my hand, he was so placid I could stroke him without getting myself dotted with slobber, which was nice. I wondered, as I have often wondered before on our travels, will the environmental problems of the world affect this beautiful place or will it be very similar in 50-100 years’ time? I hope so.
The dogs were waiting at the gate between the paddock and the home for me so I let them through and then took hold of Shep’s tug of war rope. He has been trying and failing to teach Murphy how to play the game. Shep grabbed the other end and we gave Murphy a demonstration; gradually I encouraged him to come and take my end which he eventually did, tugging away for a few seconds just as he’s meant to. Then to Shep’s consternation he moved forward as Shep pulled so it was game over. Keep trying Shep.
Back in Newcastle we did a big shop at Coles and spent our final evening with Peter and Martina before parting at the yacht club after a drink. Where will we see them again I wonder, which hemisphere?
On our last day in port we had a visitor, New Zealander Bruce who lives aboard his 25 foot English design Vertue ‘Tui of Opua’ with his wife Thelma. He came a second time and brought us all his paper charts from Newcastle down to the south west coast of Tasmania and asked us to return them to him when we had finished with them. What a gift and how useful, especially as they are marked with his routes and anchorages.
Greg had made up some thicker stainless steel washers for the bottom two bolts of the Watt&sea so Rob thought we would have to re-inflate the tender for one of us to sit in it and hold a spanner on the bolts while the other tightened up the nut on the other side in the lazarette.
“Nay,” I said “Surely one of us can stand on the stern swimming ladder and easily reach them!?!”
Guess who got that job!