Bundaberg to Sydney, Nov 2006
After waiting for decent weather, we finally left Bundaberg and headed for points south.  After rounding the north end of Fraiser Island, we turned south for Sydney 650 nautical miles away.  The weather was good for the next few days so we planned to sail straight there.  Grandpa was our head chef and cooked bacon underway for Drake's real 7th birthday on November 27.  Once again our plans had to change.  The morning of the third day, Grandpa had just come on watch and the trusty autopilot decided it did not want to work anymore.  Well, we were not going to hand steer the rest of the way to Sydney.  Yamba was 15 miles back up the coast, so we headed for shore.  Blue Sky is anchored by the town of Iluka.  On board we have a spare autopilot motor, so immediately got to work and changed the old one out.  Unfortunatly, this did not work.  After calling Raymarine in Sydney, they thought it was the computer.  It would cost twice as much to have one sent from Sydney as it would from the US. The Captain decided that we would hand steer all the way to Sydney.
Heading down the coast of Australia, there are many anchorages and towns to stop, so we were able to sail during the day and rest at night.  Phoebe and Drake enjoyed getting off the boat and building sand castles, and Grandpa enjoyed getting a cold beer.  Most of the towns are located on rivers, so you have to enter over the river bar ideally four hours after low tide.  It is similar to entering an Atoll, you have to pay attention to the tide, currents and weather.  The RSL's, Retired Servicemans League, have the best priced meals and drinks in Australia, so we try to find these on shore. 
Below we are anchored in Coff's Harbor, a lovely beach town.  The marina was full so we anchored in the harbor, it was a little rolly.  The weather forced us to stay here three days. As you can see, this did not bother the kids at all.  The beaches were wonderful and so was the town.
Above is Blue Sky in Coffs Harbor.  After Coffs, we stopped in Port Macquarie and went to the Koala Wildlife park.  You can tell Spring is in the air with all the baby animals.  There was a mama kangaroo with the joey in her pouch and an albino kangaroo.  The children were allowed to pet a Koala, which was very soft.  After Port Macquarie we had two 12 hour days, and stopped in Port Stephens only to sleep and woke up at 5:00 am to get underway to make it to Sydney before dark.  
Grandpa really enjoyed hand steering, it gave him an appreciation of how boats used to travel.  When we were just outside  the North Head of Sydney, we were greeted by one of several tall ship replicas that call Sydney home.  It was an amazing sight to see and wondeful welcome to Sydney.
An even more amazing welcome was seeing our family on the North Heads waving the British, American and Australian flag cheering us on.  Pictured is Peter and Gill, Emma's aunt and uncle and her cousin Paul and his wife Brenda and their children Nicholas and Gemma.
We were blowing horns so they could hear us.  To the left is a picture of Blue Sky coming around the heads with Sydney in the back ground. It was a beautiful day, a Friday afternoon and the harbor was full of sail boats racing.  
Our first view of the Bridge and Sydney Opera house, it is truely an amazing harbor to sail into.  Phoebe is at the helm, but when it gusted 25 knots we took over!  Sorry for the tourist shots, but here we are approaching the bridge and going under it.  What an experience sailing under a bridge.
We passed the Sydney Opera House, which is a remarkable structure.  Once we were set on our mooring we went to the local pub for drinks and dinner with the family.  It is so nice to be with our family.  Peter is Grandpa's brother and they moved from England approximately five years ago.  The boat is at Woowich Marina, which has a beautiful view of the bridge.
Our neice Gemma is in the half time show for the Pro-Basketball team, the Sydney Kings.  We went to the game and watched her.  They gave all the kids free balls if you brought and an old one.  Their team colors are purple and gold like the Lakers!  The kids had a ball.
Blue Sky arrived in Sydney the day before Grandma flew in via Quantas.  The Taronga zoo is right on the water and has a fantastic view of downtown Sydney, their exhibits are large and we saw our first duck billed playtipus. The giraffes had the best view of the bridge and opera house.  Peter, Ruth and Edward are watching the seal show, and a monkey is balancing on a line.  He would make a good crew man.
The kids enjoyed the petting zoo, or the "patting" zoo, which is how they say it in Australian.  Peter, Phoebe and Drake wanted to be part of the exhibits.  The seal jumped high enough to touch the ball.  We have not seen seals or kelp since we left California. 
It is interesting being in a large city again.  Above is an artist doing a chalk drawing on the side walk.  To the left is one of the orginal anchors from a ship which left the Isle of Wight  in 1787 for Botany Bay, which then ended up in Sydney.
The one thing Phoebe really wanted to do was go to the Opera House.  They had a Childrens Ballet one afternoon, Ramonda.  The show lasted one hour, which was perfect,  Just long enough before Drake was really bored.  Emma is pictured with her mom and dad and Phoebe and Drake at the Opera house.
Grandpa and Drake are pictured with the bridge behind them.  The fun thing about being in Sydney is we get to take a ferry as our mode of transportation.  We will take it to a stop close to my aunt and uncles, who live in Castle Hill. 
Phoebe is brushing Gemma's hair.  Below Gemma, 7, Nicholas, 9, and Phoebe put Christmas decorations all over to get into the spirit. 
Nicholas and Gemma are in a beach program called Nippers, it is similiar to Junior Lifeguards.  Emma's cousin Paul is pictured with his son Nicholas.  It was a beautiful beach.  Afterwards we swam in their pool.   Below left is Peter, John and Edward.  The kids always have a ball when there is a pool around.
Auntie Gill is above watching the kids swim, and Paul is pictued with his wife Brenda. 

One day Phoebe, Drake and Emma went to Gemma and Nicholas' school to do a presentation on our trip.  The children have been following Blue Sky's progress across the Pacific.  They all watched a slide show.  They then had a brief question and answer session.   Phoebe and Drake did their best to answer all the questions.  I think they really enjoyed being with so many children their own age.  They really had a good time visiting Mrs. Ryan's & Mrs. Game's classrooms at St. Bernadettes Primary School.  . 
We went downtown one day with the cousins to see a 3-D Imax show.  They like McDonalds as much as Phoebe and Drake.  This was a neat water fall in the city, and the kids pose in front of a Chrismas tree.  It is strange being in a hot climate for Christmas, but like everywhere, the weather has been very unseasonable and cold!