On Top, Down Under

Feb 7, 2008 / By Babette Turner-Underwood

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As you may or may not know, I have been spending time in the Pythian Office in Sydney, Australia. Before I came, family and friends did some research and found that Australia was suffering from several years of drought and desperately needed rain. So I packed nothing but sunny summer clothing. I am not sure if my first mistake was relying on the word of others or not having a contingency plan. This has been the wettest summer in years. It rained practically every day for nearly three weeks in a row when I first arrived. If it wasn’t raining, it was cloudy and threatening to rain.

In a way, I should have known better. As a DBA, I have learned to confirm information and have contingency plans. For instance, when doing a database upgrade, you ensure that you have a backup and can revert back if any issues come up. Of course, in a work environment, you normally make plans, get them checked by co-workers and do one or more “dry runs” whenever possible.

When the sun finally came out and stayed out, I found myself in paradise. The weather is warm and when the wind blows it feels like a tropical breeze. When I meet and speak with Australians, I jokingly refer to the island — Australia being the only country that is also a continent and an island. At times I sit by the water and just watch the boats floating in their moorings and feel sad about having to leave here in the near future. Although Sydney is a large city, it has a relaxed pace, a friendly atmosphere, and I have completely fallen in love with her. I will be sad to leave.

There is just so much to see and do in Australia. With limited time, I spent most weekends doing the local Sydney attractions. I did not manage to make it to everything this city has to offer, let alone make side-trips. I can tell you my time here has been magical.

I have had so many wonderful experiences that just make me feel like I am on top of the world! For the first time in my life I tried, and fell in love with, sailing. Tonight is my last night participating in the Twilight Races.

Getting Ready for the Race

The Middle Harbour Yacht Club is the friendliest and most accommodating club I have ever been to. They have twilight races on every Thursday night for the summer season. They go out of their way to get visitors on a boat for the races. The first night I was there, there were so many people looking for a ride on a boat for the races that they went around several times asking the captains to take just one more person if they could so that everyone got on.

Being totally unexperienced and a non-member, I was worried I would not get on a boat. I was delighted when Captain Brent took me and three others on board Crusher for my first race. He was such a gracious host. The entire way out (where it was calm) he said, this is a good time for a beer if anyone wants one and handed them out to guests. He was right. It was a good time.

Later in the race we had such strong winds and frequent tacking that I swear the boat was running on one edge only. I was slow to get to the other side for one tack and it was like climbing straight uphill to get to the top edge of the boat.

In the Race

I hereby let it be known that I am now extremely experienced ballast if anyone is looking to go sailing in the Ottawa area this summer.

2 Responses to “On Top, Down Under”

  • Noons says:

    Poor Babette, you have been experiencing what we call a “La Nina event”!

    Rain and drought alternate in Australia in cycles of 7 years, give or take a few months.
    The drought years are caused by the well known “El Nino” Pacific event, which messes up the East Coast warm current, the main provider of warm, humid air for rain around here.

    Then every 7 years or so, the whole thing reverses: El Nino goes AWOL and a La Nina event settles in for around a year or so. That causes the whole of the East Coast of Australia to become a tropical wetland, with the climate you have been experiencing.

    It will be finished soon, the so-called experts predict by around April or May 2008. Then we’ll be back to endless sunny and hot summers and normal winters.

    It’s really all to do with whoever designed the Earth – it MUST have been a commitee! – and slapped that huge uninterrupted mass of water called Pacific Ocean on one side of the planet! Hopefully it will be fixed in the next release but for the time being we’re stuck with the patches called “events”…

    Will try to catch up with you before you leave.

  • babette says:

    La Nino, El Nina, el “Noons”a ….whatever … I have to come back again next year just to find out what summer in Sydney is really like !! LOL.

    OMG, time has flown so very quickly. Hopefully we can touch base before I leave, but if not, then you and your family have to visit me in Canada !!!

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