Harbour best spot for party that rocks

POSITIONING is crucial in Sydney Harbour's floating car park, especially on New Year's Eve. For 18 years, Sharon Heley-Wright and her family pile onto their 12.8-metre cruiser, named Wasabi - their dinghy is named Soy - to celebrate under the fireworks spectacular that lights up Sydney.

''With eskies filled with beer and French champagne, we compete with a barrage of oversized tinnies and extreme motor yachts for the ultimate viewing post of Sydney Harbour Bridge,'' Mrs Heley-Wright said.

To get a good spot in the harbour, she says it's vital to be on the water before 11am. But this year she and her family decided to spend the week before New Year's Eve, including Christmas, floating around Sydney.

Mrs Heley-Wright, her husband, Stuart, and children, Mariah, 12, and Sam, 19, will begin their New Year's Eve tradition eating Mrs Heley-Wright's self-proclaimed famous lobster bisque.

"One year, we knocked a lobster overboard so someone had to dive after it," she said.

New Year's Eve weather is an important factor when boating on the Harbour. In 2000, Wasabi ended up near Goat Island because of the wind. ''The harbour gets so rough sometimes you can end up like a cork in a bathtub,'' Mr Wright said.

Their favourite spot is near Taronga Park Zoo when there is a north-easterly wind but, if a southerly is blowing, they tuck in to Farm Cove near Lady Macquarie's Chair for a direct view of the bridge. The Heley-Wrights tie Wasabi against 20 other boats filled with friends.

Staying overnight is a must, says Mrs Heley-Wright, because drink driving rules apply to the water as much as they do to the roads. "The water police breathalyse every boat that moves after midnight."

There are plenty of larrikins on the water each year. ''There is always a boat full of naked people, always,'' Mrs Heley-Wright said.

But no incident has ever deterred the family from spending a New Year's Eve on the water because, in her words: ''Watching the fireworks leaves a lasting impression that Sydney Harbour is the greatest venue on the globe.''

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