Growing up in Adelaide, I learned to sail off Adelaide’s beaches, and also down around Goolwa, mostly in the 14′ dinghy Dad built in the backyard.
Reading Swallows & Amazons books also made Goolwa a perfect real-life backdrop for my imagination.
In recent years I’ve returned to Adelaide to be with my Dad around Anzac Day. This year, he didn’t make it, because he was crook with another serious bout of cancer, this time in his throat. So over Easter (which coincided with Anzac Day this year), we took our Hartley 18, Woody, with us to Adelaide and even though Dad was too crook to come out with us, I hoped for a few sailing adventures that I could then record for prosperity, and also for my son Max’s future memories.
And it was perfect in so many ways. The water had returned to The Coorong, and for the first time in my life, I sailed through the barrage and down the Coorong.
Max was asleep down below, but the only sounds were the chuckling of waves under the bow of Woody, the occasional rush of the wind over the water and through the rigging of the boat coming off the dunes and the sea, and calls and cries flocks of different sea birds arcing out to us from the sky and sandbanks and reeds.
Later, sailing off Adelaide’s West Beach, wallowing downwind over a Gulf St Vincent swell, we sailed over the dark green and azure blue sea occasionally in company with a pod of dolphins.
I hope you enjoy the home movie.
Living as we do in Melbourne with water restrictions courtesy of a 10+ year drought, this year’s winter, as have many over the past decades, has been cold, but essentially dry. Of course there has been some occasional rain. It isn’t good for living with ongoing water restrictions, but the plus side has been there’s no reason to stop sailing.
In fact, some of the best sailing I’ve experienced in recent months, has been on the coldest, calmest days. On lakes, such as Lysterfield Lake in the Dandenongs, and on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.
There’s something invigorating about rugging up for a day of cold winds. Finding zephyrs of breeze is so much easier when the air temperature on land is many degrees lower on water. Only streaming eyes and a snotty nose complicates detecting changes in wind direction and intensity on your cheeks and ears.
Our most recent winter sailing day had Max and I on a friend’s Hartley 18 on Port Phillip. The wind and waves were calm; we were occasionally becalmed. We occasionally took a break from staring out over the sun glinting on the water through the winter haze to thaw out with drinks of hot chocolate and a slab or two of fruit cake.
No divesting of layers of warm clothing. There was no effort involved in sailing with a 10 to 15 knot breeze. While keeping the boat balanced, we had to take turns getting out from under the mainsail’s shade to thaw out under the weak sun. We returned to the boat ramp at the end of the day with as many layers on as when we left.
All in all, with the calm and cool weather, Max has continued to enjoy a series of nautical excursions. Turning 4 soon, his growing interest and innate ability for nautical sojourns, and sailing in particular, warms my heart.
Here’s my Flickr page of photos from the Port Phillip sailing day.