Christmas in Pittwater

Dec 26, 2012| 0 Comment

On February 12, 2012, The First Mate opened up an email from an unknown sender and received quite a pleasant surprise.

Hello: My name is John Lamble and I am writing to you from Sydney, Australia.

What is all this about? John had been following Avante‘s blog. He reads that we are planning to spend the Holidays of 2012 in Sydney. His family is planning to spend those same Holidays skiing in the States. They read that we have a home in Telluride. They have a home and a free mooring ball in Pittwater which is in Broken Bay about a 3 hour sail north of Sydney and about a 90-minute car ride from there. Would we be interested in a home swap for 3 weeks over the Holidays? He and his wife Julie are avid sailors, and before the kids arrived, they did some Pacific Island cruising like we are doing. They now have 2 children: Jess, age 13 and Jack, age 9.

What an interesting idea, but The First Mate writes back that though we live in Telluride, our ranch is 30 minutes out of town. Their kids, for sure, would rather be closer to town where they would be free to wander by themselves and explore. She does have friends in Telluride who might be interested. Would he mind if she sent his request to them? He does not. Long story short, our friends, Marolyn and Greg Ritter, decide to swap their 3-bedroom Telluride condo for the Lamble’s 3-bedroom Pittwater house.

It’s a perfect arrangement for all, but the most wonderful part is that John and Julie still want to meet us fellow sailors and invite us to visit when we first arrive in Pittwater. Their mooring ball is free and right below their house. Come on over! We can’t wait to meet this engaging people.


Tuesday, December 18th – After a passage south from Brisbane, Avante is tied up to the Lamble’s mooring ball off Taylors Point in Pittwater. Looking up at that hill, we know their house is somewhere up there looking down on us. They can see us! We spend the morning cleaning up the boat after the passage and catching up on a little sleep. In the afternoon, we head ashore to meet this gracious Australian family.


From all the emails going back and forth, we feel like we have been friends forever. The weather is perfect for an outdoor barbecue dinner. We sit around talking for hours. They are full of information about places to go in the wonderful cruising area that Broken Bay is. Though they are shortly leaving for the States, they give us the keys to their home and car and tell us to use either if we need. We had already told them how to get to our ranch and get the keys to our jeep if they need it in Telluride.


Friday, December 21st – We do take their car into Avalon to restock supplies, and then after 3 days on the mooring, we set off to explore Pittwater. This popular cruising area is the first bay north of Sydney. It is an easy 25nm ocean trip from Sydney, and with the Holidays almost here, we expect to see a lot of boats out on the bay.

What a fantastic spot to call home the Pittwater/Broken Bay area is especially if you have a family, enjoy water activities or have a lot of friends who have boats! Lovely Sydney suburbs are on the eastern end for more cultural and city-based activities, but the pristine wilderness of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is right off your backyard. Cruising here is very tame with few hazards, short distances, lots of shelter from all directions and plenty of anchorages, many of which host moorings.


It is a cruiser’s paradise, and no wonder so many take to the waters up here to vacation! For the crew on Avante, spoiled as we are by quiet, solo island anchorages, the number of boats and people take a bit of getting used to, but we do manage to find some quiet spots along the way.


Taking the dinghy ashore at Refuge Bay, we enjoy a solitary walk along the pretty beach.


The beach and rock formations at Cottage Rock Beach are pretty special. There were many more spots that the Lambles had told us to visit, but our time is short. We know we will be returning after New Year’s with Telluride friend, Jane Hardman. Then, we will have more leisure days to explore the fascinating nooks and crannies of Broken Bay.


Tuesday, December 25th – Christmas Day 2012 finds us back on the Lamble’s mooring ball getting ready to drive into Avalon to join newly met Australian friends for a traditional Aussie Christmas barbecue dinner.


As discussed in an earlier blog (see Aussie Specialness – It’s for Real!), we had met Kim and Jane Liddelow at Lady Musgrave Island. Learning that we were going to be in their area over the Holidays and after a delightful time getting to know each other over Sundowners, they invited us to join them and some of their friends for Christmas dinner here in Avalon. What a wonderful experience and what a memorable afternoon! Jane prepared a whole fish for the barbecue. How neat to share a traditional Aussie Christmas dinner on the barbie!

We eat outside on the balcony overlooking a lush landscape of trees. To The First Mate’s delight, a curious Kookaburra flies in to join us, and , of course, we are treated to a rendition of the Aussie tune.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.
Merry, merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be!

She doesn’t know for sure how this Kookaburra feels, but she knows she is merry on this wonderful shared Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 26th – The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day in England and many of its former colonies. History says that it started as the day servants were given off after the festivities of Christmas and were given their Holiday “Christmas Boxes” or gifts from their employers. In Sydney and as all sailors from this part of the world know, Boxing Day has nothing to do with a day off or with gifts. It is the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Our plan is to sail south to Sydney and watch the start of the race from Avante. How neat would that be? However, in the morning, the weather is rainy with strong southerly winds. We decide to take the Lambles up on their offer to watch the race on TV in their house. This turns out to be a much better, warmer and drier experience. We see more of the race, and we get the benefit of the commentators imparting knowledge about the race and the boats that we would not have heard bouncing around on the ocean.

Christmas and Boxing Day over, tomorrow we will drop the mooring ball here below the Lamble’s house and sail on down to Sydney. New Year’s is coming, and what better ringside seats to have than to be on one’s own boat in Sydney Harbor for the fireworks?

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