In my last blog, I gave an update on my recent trip to take on the great Australian waves via surf. Thankfully, I did not have to give up my access to the water once I got back into Sydney from that trip. This past week I had the opportunity to crew in a sailboat race in the Sydney Harbour.
Now, that is probably unexpected. You may be thinking: how can a random exchange student get access in a race within the harbour? That is a great question and one I was even asking myself as I sat on the bus taking me to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, where I would be getting my boat placement. I love sailing and everything about it, but finding chances to sail in Sydney is hard (unless you’re paying for a “sunset cruise”), and I wanted to really sail and not pay for a tourist excursion. I have some prior experience, but nothing adequate to navigate one of the busiest harbours in the world, let alone navigate it during a race!
Nevertheless, I found this sailing opportunity through a deep-dive into the internet. For once, my computer scrolls were beneficial: I found a club that was promoting a race that would occur on Wednesday night. I pushed away my fears and sent an email asking if they needed any extra hands (even if the hands were beginner’s hands), and luckily for me, they took me right in.
When I arrived, I got placed on a boat with a crew of old Australian men. It was too perfect. I felt right at home the minute I stepped on the boat. Not only did I get to sail through the beautiful harbour, watching the Opera House and Harbour Bridge fade against the setting sun, I also got to learn and experience Australian culture directly through five kind-hearted men who wanted to share all they have done with me.
I learned about:
Australian Politics (which still confuse me – but really all political systems are confusing)
The best kind of Australian beer
What it is like to serve in the Australian army
The overrated and underrated cities in Australia
The true love Australians have for vegemite (which I share)
And most importantly:
How a sailboat, open waters, and a summer night can bring anyone together
It was a perfect night. One of my favorite experiences I have had so far in Sydney. I highly recommend, while abroad or in any facet of your life, to reach out and just ask. Because, who knows, maybe you’ll end up on a sailboat with a group of cordial old mates that treat you like you’re their own grandchild.