Chris has arranged to go sailing after his visit to the tax man on Saturday afternoon and is kind enough to ask me if I would like to join him on the boat.
We meet up with his wife Rachel and the owner of the boat called Stuart, before driving over to Pittwater, which is a huge inlet north of Sydney named after a former Prime Minister of the UK.
The boat is a 28 foot Daydream called Jamboree and I am delighted to be invited on board because I have never been out on the sea under sail, and it is for that reason I am claiming this wave even if I wasn’t actually surfing here.
I actually think sailing is a natural progression for surfers, who still wish to enjoy playing with the ocean once the ravages of time do not necessarily allow them to paddle out into all the waves they once did.
It is a very windy day and after getting clear of all the other boats moored near by we set sail for Barrenjoey headland which is the far end of the peninsular past Palm Beach.
As we get close we notice that a small fire seems to have started on the headland, which reminds me of the Great Orme back in Llandudno. Due to its location on the headland it sadly can only have been started as a result of human negligence such as a tossed cigarette butt or glass bottle.
Straight away I am on to the emergency services to alarm them about the fire, because you should never assume that somebody else has rang, but the wind quickly gets hold of it and a bush fire is quickly engulfing all the tinder dry plants and trees there.
In no time at all all the area that you can see behind Alf Stewart, a grumpy local resident, is ablaze and there is really nothing the local fire fighting services can do other than try to save the historic lighthouse on the top of the headland.
To try and save the buildings a squadron of helicopters flies over the blaze dropping water from buckets they have filled. We couldn’t work out why they didn’t use sea water adjacent to the headland but can only assume it was to protect the animal and plants there. However this just meant that whilst they flew off to a freshwater reservoir or something similar, the blaze went unchecked for huge stretches of time, and anything there would have been burnt to a crisp anyway.
Watching all of this was exciting enough, but to add to the script for today we were joined on the water in our grandstand view of proceedings by a pod of dolphins swimming around the boat. Annoyingly though I still have no pictures to demonstrate another close call with these animals! They kept disappearing.
Once the fire was under control we set sail back for the mooring near Church Point and you can see Admiral Simmons here displaying fine mastery of the row boat to ferry everybody else back to shore.
As first sailing experiences go it was an amazing afternoon and sadly I suspect will be hard to match up to on any subsequent voyages. Once on dry land Chris persuades me that there is still a chance for another wave even if there is barely any light left in the day.