Less Stuff More Stories this Christmas

by Angie Feng

This Christmas, we’re celebrating #LessStuffMoreStories and focusing on the wonderful memories experiences bring and presence of loved ones, rather than physical presents.  Special guest and former avid sailor, Mary, has kindly shared her treasured sailing experiences and enriching moments she’s enjoyed, solo and surrounded by her friends and family.

Your most treasured memory is when you went sailing in Sydney harbour on your own. How did this experience shape who you are today?

Lars and I would always sail together and after he passed, I brought Flamingo (our sailboat) back home on a ship and set her up to sail singlehanded. Sailing on my own in Sydney Harbour was my connection to Lars, it served as a beautiful reminder of my old life with him.

Despite your nervousness at the beginning of your solo sailing experience, it turned out to be an amazing experience. What helped you overcome this initial nervousness?

It was the little things that helped. After working on Flamingo and setting her up to sail solo, I fell into the rhythm of things and my nervousness gradually subsided. I remember pulling up the sails and setting out for the first time. The feeling of the boat taking off was so satisfying.

Aside from Sydney harbour, do you have any secret or lesser-known locations you’ve loved sailing in?

The Basin in Pittwater is a special place for me. Only accessible by boat, we would camp there when I was a kid. I would often sail there in Flamingo and on my 70th birthday, 70 friends and family came along and celebrated. Some came by ferry, but it was magical when my son with his family arrived by boat.

Occasionally I sailed further north, up to Newcastle and Port Stephens, and sometimes even further, but soloing and timing the high tides to cross the bars along the northern New South Wales coast meant overnighting. As I got older, I found this rather tiring so would only go as far as Port Stephens. Sailing offshore is very special, and depending on the time of year, I have encountered various seabirds, whales, lots of dolphins occasionally seals and one time a very large shark.

We can tell that sailing means a lot to you but are there other enriching experiences you’re passionate about or looking to try?

As I am no longer safe sailing because of vertigo, I like to go 4WDriving. I have driven over 80,000 kilometres so far in my Pajero. I enjoy driving around the outback…it’s like being at sea with a 360-degree horizon, just red dust and green growth instead of clear blue water, it’s just as eye opening!

What new meaningful memories are you looking to create with your loved ones this Christmas?

Lars was Swedish, so we would celebrate Christmas in Sweden. It is traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve instead, so I have continued that tradition with my family and friends. Christmas in Australia is very different from Sweden though because we will have it around the pool, swimming and barbequing and having lots of fun under the sun….no cold snowy weather here.

Have your own treasured memory you’d like to share? Submit them HERE for a chance to WIN 1 of 2 $200 RedBalloon gift vouchers!


If you’re still after the perfect gift this Christmas, give them a RedBalloon experience! It’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

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