Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Rowing Down Under

Peter Miller, inventor of the Huge Rear View Mirror for Rowers, writes from Australia, where he has just been for what must be one of the world's great rows, including an iconic photo opportunity. It looks truly fabulous:
It was early last Saturday I launched from a small beach (if that is not to grand a description) on Mort Bay in Sydney Harbour. My vessel of choice was the famed Swift Dory by the boat builder John Murray. ( The Dory is 5.5 metres (17 feet) and only 51kg (112 lbs) so it is ideal for long journeys and is able to be rowed at speed. The Swift Dory is also the main boat featured in the Dangar Island Dory Derby which deserves a whole post of its own.
The Colgate-Palmolive factory on Mort Bay has been converted to luxury apartments (grey buildings in pictures) with the larger apartments going for AUD$1.1 million. The Bay is now also the home to Sydney's tug and ferry / rivercat fleet.
In my experience dodging the rivercats as they quickly and quietly sneak up on you is one of the keys to avoiding disaster on the Harbour.
Heading east I rounded Goat Island (at one time a convict stockade) and took a snap of the Bridge and a self portrait in the acrylic convex mirror fixed to the stern of the dory. Under the middle of the Bridge (also known as the coat hanger) one can just make out the profile of Fort Denison which was originally just a small island called Pinchgut on which misbehaving convicts were marooned.
In 1839, two American warships entered the harbour at night and circled Pinchgut Island. Concern with the threat of foreign attack caused the government to review the harbour's inner defences and establish a fort on the Island to help protect Sydney Harbour from attack by foreign vessels. Fortification of the island began in 1841 but was not completed. Construction resumed in 1855 because of fear of a Russian naval attack during the Crimean War, and was completed on 14 November 1857. (source Wikipedia)
After rounding Goat Island I put in the hard yards to make it to Cockatoo Island, another former convict site [Is there a theme developing here??] and subsequently Australia's biggest shipyard last century. I was particularly motivated to land at Cockatoo as the island now caters to day tourists and campers and has a cafe with knockout views were I can sit mid-trip and get my cappuccino fix. Arriving at the Island is easy as a slipway has been dedicated for kayaks and rowboats to land at. It has become even easier since after a request was made they cleaned off the slime that had made it rather slippery.
On my return journey I passed the "Dolphin Berths" were the Aquashell was tied-up. The Aquashell is a floating stage that is moored against the shore around the harbour for various events and it appears to have the remains of a large seahorse still on-stage.
Arriving back at Mort Bay I felt like I had had a workout especially since I did a big trip on Newcastle Harbour only 2 days before - but that is another story.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Again--- I have to thank you for your blog.
That is just what the Docter ordered