Friday, October 04, 2013

Meet the fleet

the dog that ate the Harbour Bridge  malamute-class cruiser approaches Garden Island naval dock
Sydney is hosting International Fleet Review to commemorate the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet into the harbour. Naval vessels and tall ships from around the world are expected to crowd the harbour over the next week.

I’m not exactly sure how they calculate the dates for these events. With previous quarter-century reviews in 1936, 1961 and 1986, this one would seem to be two years late.  I very much remember the 75th review in 1986 when I was working in the AMP building at Circular Quay. My desk was by the window on the twenty-somethingth floor with the spectacular view in some way compensating for the horribly dull desk job I’d landed after university.  The harbour below me was crammed with grey vessels festooned with colourful pennants.

I’ve come down to Lady Macquarie’s Chair today with Munson to watch the procession of boats. When I arrive there are already hundreds of people perched around the headland. We stayed there for about an hour and a half, but saw nothing more than some small yachts, a pair of kayaks and the occasional ferry making its way to Manly. That meant that dozens of photographers with itchy shutter fingers turned their lenses on Munson, surely the largest arrival in the harbour so far that morning. After talking to some people down by the water’s edge, we move onto a shaded grassy slope and chat to a very nice couple. I turned at one point and saw eight photographers lined up down a stair on my right, all with lenses trained on Munson.

under the boardwalk Woolloomooloo Bay
drying off before the next swim
As we walked back to our car via Woolloomooloo Bay, I let Munson off for a quick swim on a short sandy stretch. He crossed underneath the boardwalk for his entry in the bay proper, a malamute-class cruiser heading out to meet the fleet, wherever that was.