Sydney Hobart

Late on the night of the 27th it looked like the Sydney Hobart race leader, Wild Oats, was going to finish at 2am and smash the existing race record so it looked like here was no chance we were going to be at the finish line. But then the wind changed and fell right away. When I woke up just before 6am I checked the race website and Wild Oats was still an hour or so from the finish line (these things are hard to judge exactly). We didn't want to be late (we missed the finish by less than a minute last year) so Sofia and I rushed to get ready and head down to the finish line.

Wild Oats crosses the finish line
We got to the finish line at about 6.50am and the boat was in view but still a fair way away. There were a few people there but it was nothing like last year when the race finished at 7pm with two boats within three minutes of each other. This year we had no problems getting a parking spot right near the finish line and the CSIRO car park was empty so we could have even parked there.

These boats are really impressively big

Wild Oats did end up setting the race record by about 16 minutes and finished in 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes.

Despite the early arrival there were still lots of boats on the water to welcome the winner. This photo doesn't really capture just how many boats there were. The wave they created soaked everyone that was standing too close to the shore.

In front of the judges box were some men all kitted up with ye olde cannon to be fired at the end of the race. It was pretty loud as we were only about ten metres from it.

Cougar II near the finish line
And here is a photo of Cougar II which finished in 16th place with a time of 3 days, 7 hours, 9 minutes. The photo is taken from our verandah and the finish line is just out of view at the left of the picture. There are another 55 boats still racing (five have withdrawn). The last placed yacht is still in Bass Strait and isn't expected to finish for another day and a half yet.



A special treat this year is the cherries in our garden. We missed out completely last year because the birds ate them all before we moved in. Unlike most fruits, the birds don't just take a few cherries - they clean the tree out completely. So this year we netted it. At first when we put it on we didn't tie it up at the bottom and the birds just flew up inside it and got some. Once we worked this out, we saved more than half of the cherries.

Picking the cherries
We were a bit confused about whether they were ripe because a few had gone dark red but the rest were stubbornly staying yellow with some red on the skin. So we tried a few and they all seemed to be ripe and yummy.

No idea what the variety is. There is one called Rainier that looks like this so it is probably something like that. Still no idea why there was a bunch that went dark, it is like they were a different type.

The mutant cherries
And of course Sofia helped pick the cherries.


Lots of eggs

The eggs keep coming and we've just clocked our first dozen.

The eggs weighed 586g, averaging about 49g each but there is quite a bit of variation. One of the chooks seems to be laying smaller eggs although it could just be building up to bigger eggs as the other one has done.

We had to choose how to eat the first eggs and went with the very simple fried eggs on toast.

Nothing fancy but very yummy.


The harvest commences

Fruit season started in late November and goes on for the next five months or so. At first it was just the red currants but now there are a few types of berries and also the cherries are getting close.

Last weekend we picked just over a kilo of red currants (another kilo went to our friend Helen the weekend before) and so red currant jelly was on the agenda. After perusing a few recipes online and checking out Stephanie it looked fairly straight forward - add an equal amount of sugar to currants, boil, strain and pour into some jars.

The interesting bit was that it took a long time to strain through the muslin and I got worried about it setting in the bowl, so I poured off two jars of clear syrup and then squeezed the muslin to get the rest out. I knew that squeezing the fruit would most likely produce a cloudy jelly, but I figured it didn't matter too much. What I didn't count on was that the first couple of jars barely set and the subsequent ones got progressively stiffer. I am guessing the later jars had more pectin from the currant pips, but a little unexpected nonetheless.