Sailing Sydney Harbour

IMG_4648We love Australia.

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, so if you’re reading this, thank you for staying with Galley Girl Tales. A lot has happened in between time, with a generous amount of overseas trips –  some long haul –  and with the usual diet of work related short hauls. Skipper is currently in Doha, in the Gulf state of Qatar, and I am home in the UK, catching up on news, family and friends. The highlight of the past months, beyond all our expectations, has been the amazing country of Australia. Skipper and I left Turkey at the end of September 2014, happy to be going home to England for a few weeks of stability and staying put. But after a chance meeting with some Aussie friends on our last night in Istanbul, we were also intrigued by a conversation we had over dinner. We were inspired that evening; we talked it over, looked at finances and diaries – and that is how we came to be sailing on a beautiful day in late December in Sydney Harbour.

IMG_4645 Our friends are the owners and guardians of a small classic wooden boat in Sydney. We’ll call her TT. We rowed out to her mooring while TT’s owner tenderly drew back and unfolded the custom-made tarpaulins. The glossy sheen of perfectly varnished wood said it all. This boat is a beauty. TT has the sleekest lines and sails like a dream. But it’s fair to say – she is not a comfortable sail for four people aboard…Did we mind? Not one bit. TT’s built for two, but we were grateful that our extra weight was graciously accommodated.


We were lucky and had light and favourable winds. TT’s skipper gave us a tour and short history of the harbour. It was fascinating. The anecdotes about the early settlers’ abattoir arrangements with the blood of slaughtered animals pouring straight into the harbour seized our imagination. Ah hah, we deduced – that would account for the shark stories. TT’s not a heavy boat: it would be possible to capsize. We thought about the sharks, moved around less, and held on a little tighter. Our skipper reassured us that the abattoirs were long gone, and the shark population with them. But you never know.

We took a good, long, cheeky look at the millionaire rocky outcrops of villas and apartment buildings. We watched a small plane laze across the sky. We cut through the waves, flirted in front of the bigger yachts who catcalled when they had to give way, but who followed us enviously with their binoculars. IMG_4719

IMG_4667The yachts were preparing for the Sydney to Hobart race, a fast passage of nearly 630 nautical miles which would start on Boxing Day a few days later. The race across the Bass Strait to Tasmania is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world with high winds and challenging seas. It is one of Skipper’s dreams to one day take part as a crew member. And I’d be very happy to be waiting in Hobart to cheer him across the finishing line. There happens to be an amazing food and wine event in Hobart –  the Taste of Tasmania – which takes place along the Hobart waterfront during the week that the yachts reach the island. We managed to get there on the last day and spent a very pleasurable day with friends eating seafood and drinking Tasmanian wine in the sun.


The Manly ferry which plies between Sydney Circular Quay and the North Shore was not as accommodating as the racing yachts – a different kettle of fish altogether. The ferry skippers clearly take no prisoners – and TT tacking in front of the Sydney Opera House, with a few hundred tonne of ferry, beam on, was greeted with stony faced disregard.

IMG_4735We  tacked hard, ducked, survived. Sailing Sydney Harbour so close to the water was an amazing experience and really something of a privilege, especially aboard a beautiful vintage wooden boat. A fantastic start to our five week Aussie trip.


Viareggio Revisited

No wind, no tide. A chance to air damp sails in the marina.

The Indian Summer has come to an end in the UK so last week’s promise of a high pressure system over Italy bringing blue skies and warm days was too much to resist. The other enticement being that Skipper has been out in Viareggio, near Pisa, for a couple of weeks already, while I tie up loose ends at home before we head off for another adventure. After getting used to living in each other’s pockets for a long time, the days back in the UK on my own and under grey skies were beginning to drag a little. Continue reading “Viareggio Revisited”

Goodbye Turkey, Until Next Year

IMG_4163Our flights are confirmed, our bags packed. The boat will be hauled out for a while now for repairs, and Skipper and I will be ready to head to the airport tomorrow morning.

Istanbul is being kind and providing us with torrential rain and dark skies to get us used to our visit to the UK. (Although I’m told it’s hotter than Cyprus in London today.)

It’s been a long and busy season for us, and we are looking forward to a couple of weeks off before starting our new adventures.

There are new challenges back in the Mediterranean over the winter, and one or two intriguing offers further away to consider. Last night we got talking to an Australian couple who shared stories about their beautiful classic wooden boat, and persuaded us that we really need to put Australia on our list of top places to sail.

Now, we could really do with a holiday…

Bad Boat Names

IMG_0138Every time you call up a marina or another boat on the radio, the protocol is to announce your boat name at least twice, if not three times, for clarity. For example, a friend of mine, who named his boat ‘Blue’, would need to say: “Brixham Marina, Brixham Marina, this is Blue Blue Blue.”

He regularly caused consternation with his ‘Blue Blue Blue’ over the radio.  It sounded like he was sinking.

I’ve been looking around the marina and I’ve found some real beauties in bad boat names. Not with hidden consequences, like ‘Blue’, or incongruous, like ‘Flower’, but some truly dubious names for boats. Here are a few from my collection:



Ohhh. This is a fishing boat. I see what the owner’s done there. Yes, very clever.


This boat is an American flagged vessel, with English speaking owners one assumes, so there are no ‘lost in translation’ excuses. She is also shimmery brown and slightly sparkly.

Probably the Number One offender in my collection.


Continue reading “Bad Boat Names”

Broken Bones


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It’s exactly a year ago yesterday since this bad boy was responsible for breaking my fingers.

Pretty Portovenere

Ok, I accept that some of the responsibility was my own for having my fingers in the wrong place at the wrong time, during a fast tack in strong gusts.

Continue reading “Broken Bones”

Day Skipper Studies

The skipper and I have just returned from a couple of days sailing with friends.

On our first night away we stopped at a little place called Orhaniye on the Bozburun Peninsular, near Marmaris, where we made our way to the bar for a beer or two. I was impressed with the dedication of this lady who was on a sailing holiday with her family, studying for her Day Skipper qualification at the same time.

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Continue reading “Day Skipper Studies”