Melbourne & the Australian Grand Prix
After a successful hernia operation for Ken and a visit to see the Volvo boats in Auckland, we headed north to Opua in the Bay of Islands. Really nice sailing, plenty of reefing and sail trimming with our new First Mate, Harry Marchant. Harry is a Brit from West Sussex who at the age of 21 has already sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular cruising grounds in New Zealand. It͛s also where the OWR fleet will launch in late April/early May to head out to Vanuatu.
Tucked into the Opua Marina, and leaving Altair in Harry͛s capable hands, we took off for Melbourne, Australia on March 22nd with Harvey and Sue of Oyster yacht Safiya. Splurged on fantastic tickets/pit passes for the Australian Gran Prix. We were also there to celebrate Sue͛s birthday.
Melbourne is the coastal capital of the Australian southeastern state of Victoria with a population of about 4.5 million. It is the second largest city in Australia and is also the home of the Australian Gran Prix, the Formula One motor race. So for two days we hung out at the track looking at all the beautiful cars and beautiful people, including Australian driver Mark Webber, Jackie Stewart and Nicki Lauda. Ken was so excited when he spotted Lauda, and we even managed to get a photo with him. Lauda is a three time F1 World Drivers͛ Champion. You may recall Ron Howard͛s movie RUSH - about Lauda͛s career, his horrific accident, and his rivalry with English driver James Hunt.
We were actually in pit alley as the drivers headed out for the main event. I ͚m now a Formula One Fan! It was all very exciting and we had a blast. Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari came in first, Louis Hamilton second and my Finnish cousin, Kimi Raikkonen, third. We met up for dinner with friends from a few other OWR boats who were in town for the opening game of Australian Rules football season.
We spent a week in Melbourne, so In addition to Formula One we had time to explore the city. The Quest Grand Hotel is conveniently located near the free tramway, so we had an easy trip to the Track. We also did a Hop On Hop Off bus ride, which is always a great way to see a new city. The tram is another pleasant way to see Melbourne. Rented bikes near the hotel, rode along the Yarra River and the Esplanade on the coast. Visited a winery for a beautiful lunch. Squeezed in a few hours on the beach and met up with friends for Sue͛s birthday dinner. Afterwards we wandered around checking out the street art. Melbourne is known as one of the greatest street art capitals.
Well, we are leaving Vanuatu to head to Mackay, Australia in a few minutes so I͛ll end here. On this six to seven day passage I͛ll try to organize photos and write about Vanuatu. Seriously, are we the only people you know who have been to Vanuatu?