Sailing Phuket to Langkawi

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In march this year we rejoined our friends on Gypsea Rover for a few weeks of cruising from Phuket Thailand to Langkawi Malaysia. Somewhere over the Timor Straits we flew over a rainbow, it seemed an omen. We arrived at midnight, grateful to be collected by Bryan and Sue in their tiny rental car. GR was berthed nearby at Phuket Yacht Haven. We both love Thailand and happily anticipated good company, great food and amazing scenery. All of it delivered!

Phuket Yacht Haven has recently redeveloped it’s on shore facilities and boasts luxurious  air conditioned showers, a great little café and cocktail bar with an extensive deck to admire the views of mega yachts against a backdrop of sparkling water. There are a few little local restaurants and one convenience store nearby.

The first day or two we spent provisioning, doing odd boat jobs and touring our favourite of Thailand’s islands.

We then headed out to the top end of Phang Na bay to explore the hongs. These are caves formed by erosion in the limestone karsts. They often are roofless, giving a view of sheer limestone walls, festooned with jungle growth and loaded with monkeys.

Our first Hong at Koh Phanack had a monkey sentry at its entrance. We lunched there then motored up to Koh Hong to anchor for the night. Sundowners in the cockpit were interrupted by the arrival of a longtail selling very fresh prawns.

Dawn the next morning was spectacular. The slow spread of golden light across the limestone karsts had me entranced. The first of many longtails began their fishing in the gentlest light. We dinghied up to the entrance to Koh Hong and snuck into the Hong at low tide. Once in the sun filled the inner Hong and lit up the walls.

Returning to GR we up anchored and sailed south for Koh Yao Yai. Dinner that night consisted of walking up to the local beach restaurant and selecting from a range of live seafood. The Mantis shrimp were great, and followed by Mango Roti for dessert. Andrew and I love Thai food, especially seafood so we felt we were in heaven. Coffee’s the next morning at the resort and a walk around their beautiful water gardens before heading back to the marina to await a local tradesman.

With two more days to fill we again hired the little rental car and set off picking up bits and pieces for the boat and provisioning. Whilst Bryan worked with the tradie Andrew Sue and I headed off across island to have lunch at Bang Tao Bay with Claire Macdonald and Steven Horrobin whom we hadn’t seen since our time in Indonesia in 2014. They have spent the last few months doing extensive upgrades to their lovely yacht Almacantar.

We motor-sailed down to Chalong Bay in order to clear customs the next day. Had dinner at Coconuts restaurant where we bumped into another Aussie couple, Noah and Jo, on Cetacean 2 who ( as is usual in the small world of sailing) knew our friends Gote and Rosalind from Veedon Fleece.

Clearing customs was easy, after one navigated the filthy rubbish piled dock to access the offices. The Thais and Malay’s do not seem to mind how long it takes  you to cross the border so we were under no pressure to sail any great distance. Instead we spent the next week or so leisurely island hopping our way out of Phang Na Bay and down the coast. Maya Bay was our first stop, and luckily we arrived just as all the day boats left. We picked up a mooring, then had a quick snorkel and settled in to watch the sunset.

The next day’s sail took us to Koh Lanta , where there are resorts everywhere but they are all low key. A very relaxing beach vibe around sunset, with lots of families out catching up. From Koh Lanta to Koh Muk was a mere 20 nm. Koh Muk is home to the Emerald Cave where we witnessed the funniest scene ever. A conga line of Chinese tourists, holding onto a thick rope were being led into the cave by a lone guide. Perhaps around fifty tourists, all dutifully wearing their life jackets and bravely singing songs to keep their spirits up ALL being towed by one small man! In half an hour all was quiet again. Sue swam into the cave as the tide was by then too high for the dinghy to enter. Having broken my ribs the night before we flew to Thailand I remained in the boat as I was unsure of being able to make my way back into the dinghy without pain. We dined that night watching a purple twilight from the clifftop restaurant. The restaurant ‘safety’ railings were a sight to behold! The next morning at dead low tide Bryan ferried us back to the cave. It was perhaps the most spectacular of all the Hongs we visited having a huge dry beach inside with towering jungle clad walls. We celebrated our wedding anniversary at Charlie Beach after cocktails at the Reggae Bar. Charlie Beach boasts a fab bakery with some of the best Brioche rolls we have ever eaten. Another short sail took us to Koh Rok Nai. Koh Rok Nai is uninhabited but has some fairly nice snorkelling with lots of Parrot fish, Moorish Idols and big schools of Batfish.

42 nm took us to the Butang group of Islands, and we finally got enough wind for a decent sail. We stayed overnight at Koh Lipe for two nights, the anchorage is off the back beach and its a short ten minute walk across the island to the main walking street. The food was fabulous and the area quite lively as its a backpacker and SCUBA diving haven. Good massages, night markets and the very, very best yellow curry of fish I have ever eaten.

From Koh Lipe it was a short sail to Langkawi in Malaysia. We cleared in at Telaga Harbour then anchored off the main tourist beach. On arrival at the beach the first person we spoke too told us not to leave our dinghy unguarded. When we eventually settled on a restaurant in the growing dusk , Bryan Sue and Andrew had to drag the dinghy up the beach to where we were. No mean feat in soft sand on an overcrowded beach. In all my travels through South East Asia over many years never have I encountered such a scene of decimation by tourism. There must have been at least forty jet skis whizzing about, cars all over the beach, noise and confusion everywhere. Dinner that night scored a zero out of ten, especially given that the wait staff happily took Bryan’s order for a banana split, then presented him with a bowl of fake whipped cream and a few glace cherries. Apparently they were out of banana’s but neglected to mention that when he ordered!

As the sky darkened we watched literally hundreds of squid boats coming out with their green lights on, totally surrounding GR. They fished all night and we could hear them murmuring and singing in the dark.

Off early to stay at Rebak Marina. Rebak is just a short ferry ride from Langkawi and another world away. The resort is managed by Taj Resorts and the food and service are superb. Marina guests have the keys to the resort and are offered significant discounts to eat at the resort. We enjoyed a stunning dinner there after swims and very well priced drinks by the beach. The Indian breakfast was amazing, I think I counted no less than ten different types of Indian bread, not counting the western food which was also on offer.

Our last few days were spent buzzing around Langkawi, visiting resorts and riding the cable car all the way up the mountain to view the island and it’s huge National Park from the very top. Reluctantly we said goodbye to Sue, Bryan and Gypsea Rover and checked into possibly the most desolate hotel near the airport. With a grand dining room which could easily seat five hundred, we were the only guests.

The usual arrival three hours before an international departure left us scratching our heads in wonder. At 0600 the airport was open, but the lights were off and it was in complete darkness and staffed by a lone kitten, presiding over the shrine. We eventually found two other travellers, who told us they had been there for an hour already. Alarmed by the lack of staff they had phoned the airport security only to be told “We are a small island….we don’t start work until seven am”. Ah the difference between Thailand and Malaysia….

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Joining the Van Diemen’s Land Cruise: Strahan to Hobart

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Our first introduction to sailing the south west coast of Tasmania was ominous. Barely an hour into our drive across Tasmania to Strahan we received a phone call from John Cain and Jenny Wright on Another Dimension. From their Sat phone. Sat phone calls rarely bring good news and this was the case.

We shared the drive with Don and Barbara Richmond who also meeting an RBYC yacht: Summer Wind. Summer Wind was also deep into the Gordon River and also could not possibly meet us in Strahan, catastrophic weather…..

We hastily booked a cabin at the caravan park and spent a night or two there as the weather raged. Plenty of good distractions though, many good walks, coffees and meals…and when our two wayward boats finally made their way back to Strahan, good meals on-board.

With this leg of the cruise most likely to provide unexpected delays in weather windows we provisioned well. Jenny has a fool proof plan which involves writing a menu plan for the expected cruise length. Each meal is listed with the ingredients beside it. Two or three emergency meals are put aside. The menu plan and ingredients list are kept so that all the expected ingredients will be used for each meal ensuring minimum wastage.  After several treks up the hill and with the sea state abating to below its 6m state we were ready to go.

We left Strahan at 4pm and made our way out with Andrew on the helm and John providing steerage guidance from the inward track. Hells Gates looked as it should have but we made our way through calmly and then set our course out to sea. The weather and sea state were pretty average until we cleared Cape Sorell and could set our course. After that the evening and night’s sail was a dream. It was quite lovely to sail with a veritable armada of yachts around us! Strangely enough the racing gene kicked in and I went off watch telling the Skipper that we were leading the fleet. On our second watch, pre-dawn cold seeped into out bones and the rain came in sideways. Wisely the skipper had slowed us down for a dawn arrival at Port Davey, 110 nm later. Looking at the formidable rocks guarding the entrance I was pleased he did.

Entering Port Davey was almost like sailing into a Tolkien world of geographic majesty. ‘Get out your Derwent’s’ was the catch cry and well called. The scenery was amazing and indeed many artists would have been inspired. Steep cliffs, Mount Rugby at 771 m and numerous other shorter walks surrounded us. In Port Davey the water is tainted black with tannin which runs off the forest. The fresh water layer is around 1 m deep which makes for poor visibility (you can’t see more than 30 cm deep) and a Coca Cola coloured spa bath when you turn on the outboard engine. It also means that this area is very specifically protected as there is little piscatorial life but many invertebrates such as Sea Pens survive in much shallower water than they are usually found in.

We spent five days in Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour, exploring all its corners. Our skipper John valiantly swam each day and persisted with his stand up paddle board each morning before breakfast despite our fears of hypothermia.

Two of many highlights: Travelling by dinghy up the creek to Melaleuca where Denny King made his home and enjoying wandering around his base and the airport.  It’s a 5 nm trip by dinghy from Clayton’s Corner and with a 25 to 30 knot headwind coming hone to the boat we were pretty happy to have John and Jenny serve us hot Milo’s and home made Pizza’s for lunch!   The Cain/Wright family affectionately call their dinghy the ‘Floating LiLo’ … after this trip … we call it ‘The sodden Wettex’! At this time my standard onshore outfit consisted of a 3mm wetsuit with a full upper ocean jacket ….and I was still freezing cold!

The other memorable experience was walking up Balmoral Hill after anchoring in Casilda Cove.

A short walk but a stunning perspective of the whole harbour.

We left Port Davey with the bulk of the remaining fleet at dawn for the sail under Tasmania to reach Recherche Bay on the south east coast.

What an amazing day! Beautiful big Southern Ocean swells, clear skies and wildlife everywhere! As we passed the South West Cape a big pod of dolphins joined us. They stayed for ages, but talking to people from the fleet later on I realised that they probably greeted every yacht. The seabirds kept us constant company as we sailed wing on wing inside of Maatsuyker Island and headed towards the South East Cape. I recorded the day’s speed record of 13.4 knots downwind with a poled heady and reefed main. Chuffed but white knuckled! That done we headed up into Recherché Bay and anchored for the night. A small glitch with the anchor brought the Summer Wind crew over for extended Sundowners whilst Guru Bryan Drummond fixed our broken circuit breaker.

Off the next morning and into a larger wind than we expected. A quick retreat had us placing the dinghy back on deck then heading off again. Annoying really as we only has 25 nm to travel, as opposed to the 65-70 of the day before.  38.4knots around the corner made bread baking and straightening the horizons of the day before’s photo’s strategically difficult. But the bread got baked and the photo’s uploaded.

The next few days were spent blissfully roaming the D’Entrecasteax Channel, catching flatties and visiting welcoming local yacht clubs.

We made our way into the Derwent and joined the rest of the fleet at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania for the presentation dinner. Many cruisers took this opportunity to visit MONA, the Salamanca market, Mawson’s Antarctic museum and to peruse the views from atop Mt Wellington…as well as consuming the odd Scallop pie!

The RYCT laundry was busy as were the supermarkets as the interstate yachts prepared for departure and the Victorian contingent prepared to complete their circumnavigation. A note for Jenny’s provisioning method… as we entered the yacht club we put a half of a lettuce and two rather sad carrots in the bin….. Everything else was where it should have been…… consumed!

The Van Diemen’s Land Cruise is run every two years and will next happen in 2017. If you haven’t been there but thought you should….put it on your bucket list!

 

 

 

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Sailing Indonesia: Borneo to Singapore

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In late October we headed off to Kumai in Kalimantan, Borneo to join friends Sue and Bryan Drummond on their Hylas 54 Gypsea Rover. Sue and Bryan left Australia in July and have been sailing steadily N W through the … Continue reading

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Autumn sailing on Port Phillip Bay

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Autumn is perhaps Melbourne’s most beautiful season. It brings long sunny days, cooler evenings after the summer’s scorching heat and magnificent sailing weather. Perhaps because our winters seem so long, sailors seize upon any opportunity to get out on Port Phillip Bay at this time of the year. This weekend we were blessed with clear skies, warm northerly winds and flat sea’s. Not heaps of wind but pleasant for just gliding around watching the afternoon yacht races and enjoying the city views.
The following pictures are screen shots taken from a Go Pro camera our son used whilst paddling on our kayak.

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Sailing wing on wing for home

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Finally after five days we were able to emerge from our cocoon!
We left Refuge Cove at 08.00 hrs with a sunny sky, a good puff of breeze and a little residual slop from the blow. The South Eastern lighthouse village always reminds me of some kind of a mountain monastery, perched so high on its rocky cliffs.
By the time we had rounded the bottom of Wilson’s Promontary the breeze had died out and the seastate had returned to dead flat. We motorsailed past the Anser and Glennie Island groups and debated whether or not to go into San Remo to refuel. Eventually a gentle breeze filled in and made the decision for us. With a consistent 8-10 knots behind us we decided to sail on for Melbourne.
It’s a big statement to make but we found our next day of sailing to be the most consistent, comfortable and enjoyable of the whole passage from Melbourne to Cairns and back!
Never once did the wind move forward of the cockpit and never once did the swells rise above one metre. One could be forgiven for forgetting that this was the notorious Bass Strait, slayer of many unsuspecting yachts and ships!
The day progressed with several sightings of sunbathing seals, fairy penguins and large pods of dolphin. Highland Fling hummed along, almost as if she had finally figured out she was close to home. Sunshine abounded and as night fell the stars were spectacular. Around midnight the wind dropped off and we needed to motor again. Whilst we were anxious about our fuel levels we also needed to make it to the heads in time for slack water. It was our preference to not rush the passage and pass through The Rip during the low tide slack water at 02.30 hrs so we didn’t mind slowing down for a while but we certainly wanted to be there by 0830!
Once again we tracked the shipping using the Marine Traffic app on the I Pad and this time it was much more reliable, given our better internet access as we approached Phillip Island and Melbourne.
Just predawn a huge pod of dolphin joined us. They were really active, leaping out of the water and spread around for twenty meters on both sides of the boat, their backs all burnished by the predawn glow. Spectacular and so uplifting to see!
We approached the Rip at 08.20 hrs, right on slack water and were through by 0830. Not a ripple or eddy to be seen anywhere. Pure magic as far as a welcome home from our bay comes!
With six hours of sailing ahead of us to reach our Yacht Club and still concerned about our fuel we headed into Queenscliff harbour to refuel and stroll into town for some lunch provisions.
By now the tide was against us and accordingly we motorsailed up the bay via the West Channel taking it in turns to catnap along the way. The bay was so flat it seemed surreal when I awoke just after passing the main shipping channel.
By 1600 hrs we had closed the circle, crossing the finish line by tying up again at RBYC after two years and seven weeks. For the next year we will concentrate on exploring Port Phillip and Westernport Bays as, despite sailing on our beloved bay for the last 18 years we have never had the luxury of enough free time to do much more than race from one end to the other on odd weekends. There are plenty of more cruising food recipes to be uploaded also, so stay along for the sailing if you wish, otherwise, thanks for enjoying our journey!

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Cocooning in Refuge Cove

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Eventually we slipped past the red lichen coloured rocks and dropped the anchor in Refuge Cove.
Whilst tired we were delighted to have had such an easy passage from Eden. The lack of wind meant our passage had taken ten hours longer than our passage up to Eden two years peviously, and we were well happy to rest a little in this delightful National Park anchorage.
Not long after we anchored Rob Hurrell’s Buizen 48 Aqua Cadabara entered the bay. Great to see faces from RBYC again!
They came by the following day to invite us ashore to bushwalk which we lazily declined. Later we were very glad we did as our anchor dragged that afternoon in the freshening winds. We did join them aboard that evening for sundowners and had a great time catching up on news from our home yacht club. Aqua Cadabara is joining the rest of the RBYC cruising fleet on their annual jaunt around Bass Strait.
The next day another couple of RBYC yachts arrived. Sarah Patterson’s as yet unnamed Jeanneau 36i and John’s larger Jeanneau Happy J. It almost seemed like we were back in our marina!
Friday night drinks were onshore before Happy J departed the next morning to rejoin the Cruising Fleet. Sarah and Robert decided to wait out another day before continuing on to Deal Island. A smart move as the sea state took quite a while to settle after the strong winds of the last few days. Whilst most kept themselves busy with bushwalking we indulged in the luxury of reading, afternoon naps and the occasional swim. It felt like pure joy to have nothing to do whatsoever!

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Heading South for Victoria

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With the weather finally in our corner we set off. As we left Twofold Bay we encountered washing machine sea’s and the sailing was unpleasant but not intolerable. Intolerable would have been staying in Eden!

By the time we were due to pass Green Cape Lighthouse the wind and swell had dropped off considerably. The sky went from 1/8 cloud to 8/8 within 15 minutes. We had a sea fog so thick and dense it blanketed the swell and was a virtual doona! We could barely see the lighthouse from two miles out.

We watched the GPS and plotter avidly as we approached Victorian waters. How wonderful to be in our home sea’s again! Sunset had us by Gabo Island with our only concern being to be past Point Hicks by 12 pm the next day as a strong wind warning was being broardcast for that area. We expected to clear it by seven hours and easily achieved it.

Sailing that evening was both eerie and magical. Surrounded by dense fog,hazily illuminated by the full moon we had a small amount of visibility but no stars.

What we did have in spades was the presence of large pods of dolphin, all prettily lit up by the phosphorescence! Incredibly beautiful and fantastic company to keep at sea!

Night passed into day and still we motorsailed in the thick dense fog. When we could we used the Ipad ap ‘Marine Traffic’ to try and spot shipping. It’s fairly good but needs reasonable access to internet connection to be up to speed.

Later in the day we saw the first oilrig emerge from the gloom. It looked spooky with it;s veil  of mist lingering around it’s seabed supports. At times during the day our visibility was down to two hundred meters. We were happy to stay above the shipping lane.

Yet another evening and night at sea and finally Wilson’s Promontary came into view. At 0700 hrs we topped up our fuel ( we have only a 100 l tank!) and proceeded towards Refuge Cove.

As we approached we had several radio transmissions from the RBYC Cruising Fleet. They were just leaving Refuge, having been there for two days and invited us to join them at Port Welshpool, another 10 miles east.

After 48 hours of nonstop two handed sailing we politely declined.  An anchorage and a sleep were called for and the appropriately named Refuge Cove beckoned like a siren. This was our longest two handed passage in the entire transit up and down the east coast of Australia and we despite the comfortable weather conditions we really needed a good sleep!

So from a Snug Cove to a Refuge all in two very long days, most of it feeling like we were in an isolation tank from the rest of the world thanks to the omnipresent fog…….

 

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Waiting to be beyond Eden

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In all we spent ten days in Eden. Whilst the weather in Eden was generally calm and sunny the winds in the latitudes below us blew and blew. One sector would ease then the strong wind warnings were up for the next. We had plenty to keep us occupied, meeting several yachts. Some were returning from the Wooden Boat Festival, another completing a cruise from Adelaide to the Whitsundays. We met our neighbour across the wharf whom we decided not to visit after he disclosed the presence of a pet seven foot python on board!
We trekked up Warrens Walk each day, getting a little bit faster and a little less puffed each time. We searched fruitlessly for a decent cup of coffee… and enjoyed the showers of the Fishermans Club. They aren’t very flash, but they at least afford a hot water shower, rather than the tepid showers at the wharf. Previous visitors to the wharf here will be horrified to know that the daily wharfage fee has escalated from $5.00  to $20.00 per day, with no discernable benefits to warrant the price hike! Everywhere we went in town people were buzzing with the news that a new floating development had finally been approved. Not a minute too soon we thought, as this small town seems less prosperous that when we passed through here two years ago and the current wharves are requiring significant maitenence to keep them functional. The fuel truck is no longer allowed to access the visitors wharf, yachts refuelling must make arrangements to tie up temporarily to the working wharf. If ordering a taxi in Eden it pays to know your wharf’s local name. The visitors wharf is referred to as the Skinny Wharf, the working wharf the Fat Wharf and the the furtherest across is the Ice Wharf.
Each day the black Mussel boat would return from across the bay, clattering fresh bounty as they unloaded. The mussels here are some of the largest and tastiest we have ever encountered. We devoured ours with a chilli tomato sauce, then climbed the hill to the Eden Smokehouse to purchase gravlax and chili smoked mussels. Good fresh local food from a pristine environment.
Friday brought another low and with it wind and rain. We hunkered down and slept little as Fling lurched around. By Sunday all was improving, clouds scudding away and finally it seemed we would have a weather window to leave Monday afternoon. We were up early and scooted up the hill to provision, our last chance before home. At 1200 hrs we cast off, receiving a final wave from the harbour seal as we rounded the rock wall.

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Cruising friends

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We spent our last week in Batemans Bay enjoying coffee’s and lunches with cruising friends, old and new. Team Zolibato (Neil and Deb)  came and rescued us from boatland, taking us down to Broulee for lunch and spending the afternoon wandering around the delightful village of Mogo. Mogo is a window shoppers dream, lots of interesting places to wander in and out of. The crew of Fare Thee Well joined in for an afternoon of Bocce in the park, as did the crew of Argos. It was a tight competition, with the threat of buying coffee’s for all the next morning hanging over the head of the loser. Luckily the evening insects saved the day and it was one all for  each team! Fare Thee Well had been headed for Hobart’s Wooden Boat Festival but came into the bay to sit out ex T C Oswald. Unfortunately when they attempted to leave they hit the bar and damaged their steering, ending their cruise. They headed home the day we left the marina and we wished for a fair passage on their way north. We remembered seeing them at Eden two years previously, also on their way to Hobart.

With a good deep tide we exited the marina and headed over to the moorings under Square Head to sit out the worst of the southerly. Pre-dawn two days later we headed down to one of our favourite ports on the NSW coast, Bermagui.The day was dark and cloudy and the wind always within thirty degrees of the bow but the scenery great and the sailing easy. Fling made good speeds as she picked up the East Australian Current. We rafted up third boat out and sat back to enjoy this pretty harbour.

Next morning a text message from Team Zolibato, who were headed south to go camping saw us at Mr Jones for coffee’s. Mr Jones is a tiny hole in the wall coffee shop run by no other than Mr Jones, an artist and ex Melbourne Barrista of renown! We sat on our upturned milk crates and laughed that the last good coffee we had enjoyed together was at Mr Bones, another establishment run by an ex Melbourne Barrista. Mr Bones is at Airlie Beach in Queensland. So on  from Mr Bones to Mr Jones! Coffee’s morphed into a long lunch on the deck of the Fishermans Wharf. Fantastic fun and so good to catch up! Neil and Deb headed off to the dubious comfort of their tent somewhere on the south coast and we retired to Fling.

Another perfect day of Bermagui weather kept us harbour bound whilst the wind blew. We tramped up the hill to visit the Blue Pool, an ocean bath, but the strong winds didn’t encourage swimming. Dinner at the downstairs Asian restaurant back at the wharf completed Valentines day perfectly.

Up early and off to Eden, after a slow start we had a great sail again riding the tide and current almost all the way. As we entered Twofold Bay a lone Laser sailed out near us. We tied up to the wharf and waited for a yacht to depart from the only fishing boat to raft up to. Just as we were casting off out lines a friendly voice offered to jump on the fishing boat and take our lines.

Lo and behold it was Gote, our cruising companion from two years ago! He and Rosalind were here in Eden for a weekend Laser regatta and he had recognised us sailing in! Their yacht Veedon Fleece is currently in Borneo awaiting their return. Today Rosalind has so generously driven us up the hill to reprovision and refuel. The visitors wharf here is under refurbishment  which prevents the fuel truck from driving on it, so this kindness saved us hours of back breaking labour! We look forward to catching up this evening to hear of Gote’s progress in the regatta.

It constantly amazes me how tiny our sailing community is. We bump into fellow sailors in all sorts of unexpected places.  A wooden yacht returning from Hobart is rafted outside of us today. One of the crew remembers our yacht from when she was first imported into Australia, when she was berthed in Pittwater. Feeling Yachts are rare in Australia but this man was able to recall seeing her both in Pittwater and from when she sometimes was based in Townsville some ten years later.

I enjoy spending time in a working harbour and this morning’s special joy was watching the spectacle of the Eden fleet being visited by the Bishop of Goulburn and Canberra. He arrived by boat and received a large wooden cross and visited the working fleet to celebrate the Dioscese’s 150th anniversary. The cross will be carried in a pilgrimage up the south coast and will complete it’s journey in Canberra. Nothing like a religious spectacle at 7am on a quiet Saturday morning!

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Bateman’s Bay breezes

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 A quick scan of the weather sites had us requesting a move deeper into the marina. By lunch time on Australia Day we were snugly tucked into the quietest corner of the marina in a space which, although it isnt really a pen provides two good poles, a couple of bollards and a floating pontoon to allow us to jump on and off Fling. It feels much more sheltered and we ready Fling for the expected strong winds.

Australia Day evening was spent onboard the beautiful square rigger ‘Argos’ owned by Sue and Peter Watt. Sue and Peter and their children are on a slow circumnavigation of Australia and are currently based in Batemans Bay for several months. They jumped into offshore sailing at the deep end, sailing Argos all the way across the Great Australian Bight on their first leg! Also onboard were a couple of their friends, weekend residents of the marina. It felt lovely to be welcomed into this small sailing community, especially after living amongst the commercial harbours of Woolongong and Ulladulla!

The Australia Day fireworks were abandoned by the presence of natures own fireworks and we all scattered to check the boats as the thunderstorm rolled through. Ex Tropical Cyclone Oswald was beginning to make his way south towards us. At the very last minute he took a turn out to sea leaving us with only heavy rainfall and strong winds. A great relief! We thought for those in our sailing community further north and worried for those in the severely storm affected areas in Queensland and NSW. The weather gradually abated and we ventured out, enjoying several good walks and catch ups for coffee with the Argos crew and Neil and Deb,our cruising friends from last year. Neil and Deb have now sold Zolibato and are land based just down the coast from here. Fantastic to catch up again. Today we had a reunion lunch at a great seafood restaurant across the river. From here we were in prime position to watch the opening bridge lift up to let the afternoon ferry through.

During the week another couple of yachts have blown in. One in particular is a viking longboat, sailed all the way down from Russia. They, like most of the cruising fleet in the immediate area are headed for Hobart for the wooden boat festival. There’s a bit of a log jam of yachts in the ports at present as strong southerlies have replaced the tropical low weather! At Bermagui we hear of yachts rafted four deep so we will wait here some more until the weather gods smile again. That seems to have been the recurrent theme of this passage, short intervals of sailing followed by long intervals waiting for weather windows.

 

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Bay hopping : Jervis Bay, Ulladulla and Bateman’s Bay

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Entering Jervis Bay we were accompanied by dolphins and in seven metres of water I could clearly see the bottom. Such a beautiful pristine cruising ground! We headed over to our favourite anchorage, ‘Hole in the Wall’ and settled in for a blissful evening.

At two am the wind shifted a little and when I got up to check the boat I was delighted to see tiny phosphorescent wavelets all around us, just magic!

Looking at the forecast at six am the next morning we reluctantly departed for Ulladulla. As I cast off the mooring buoy I looked staright down to the seabed, crystal clear in 5 metres of water. A large ray was just astern of us, drifting lazily along. I wished I had had the foresight to put the underwater camera just under the surface, the photo would have been so much better.

No wind at all for the start of the sail but it eventually built to the low twenties, gusting to mids but happily from behind. We had a heart stopping moment as we motored over a kelp raft just as we entered the harbour. The engine coughed, the rock wall loomed then Fling picked herself up and surfed on in!

After a night on the outer wall we sought refuge in the inner harbour, tying up to the wharf. I love a working harbour, so much to see. Mid morning I was surprised to hear a low engine growl behind us and looked up to see an eighty foot tuna boat looming over us! We felt quite tiny…The catch was quite small but the season has only just begun and the locals tell us the water temperature isn’t yet high enough for good yields just yet.

The next weather window opened up and we quite happily departed for Bateman’s Bay. Several really big dolphins accompanied us out of the harbour this time. The wind stayed stubbornly on the nose until the last 4 nm, and we then had a five hour wait for the tide to get us across the bar into the harbour. After tying Fling up as best we could in a catarmaran pen we settled in to watch hundreds of Flying Foxes migrating back to their evening colony north of us.

This next week’s weather will bring us strong winds associated with the tropical low that has been causing havoc in Queensland so we plan on staying put for a good few days.This marina will offer us more shelter than Bermagui to the south, so best to wait here we think.

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Leaving the city behind…

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We felt it was time to continue our southbound journey.
Waving goodbye to South Head and shrugging off the two Naval Frigates who accompanied us out of the harbour we set sail south. A short but lovely sail had us in Port Hacking. We had intended to stay at Jibbon Beach, as recommended by our cruising friends Deb and Neil, but a northerly was forecast so we moved over into Gunnamatta Bay and parked ourselves on a vacant mooring. So peaceful was it that we stayed an extra day, albeit having to move onto other ‘vacant’ moorings as the Christmas season wanderers returned home from their cruising grounds! On our way in and out we passed one of the most laughable cardinal marks in Australia! It is literally two feet from a solid rock cliff and there is no way a vessel could get behind it!
Another short hop had us in Woolongong.The harbour is tiny and was hand built by convicts, although a lot of the evidence of their hard labour has been covered in concrete. Here there are no vacant moorings and one must raft alongside either a charter fishing boat or a massive trawler. The charter boats are the best option. We chose one, phoned its owner and settled in. We moved the next day to accomodate his early am departure but found another boat behind him which had no plans to leave until early Sunday morning, which suited us just fine.
As with our last visit here the city was gripped by a heatwave. Friday’s temperature topped 46 degree’s C before a massive southerly change moved in, dropping the temperature by 20 degrees in five minutes and dumping loads of leaf mulch and dried grass on our decks and below!
Every commercial fishing boat in this harbour is owned by Australian Italians and it’s lovely to see the Italian names on the sides of the boats. Italian friendliness isnt far away either. Our favourite beachfront cafe is also Italian operated as is the Co-op.
The hardstand area across from our side of the harbour was a constant source of entertainment. Thursday afternoon we witnessed a scene straight from ‘Streets of L.A.’ as an unmarked police car came flying down into the crowded space, hurtling over the speed bumps. Six or seven other police cars and vans and one ambulance also arrived. We couldnt see what eventuated but finally another hotted up car left the premises, revving its engine the whole way. Later that night the local hoons gathered, around thirty of them, but they too moved on quietly. The next two days the scene was occupied by three weddings…. Fascinating street theatre!
At four thirty am this morning we moved on again, this time to Jervis Bay. We are currently tucked up at the anchorage known as ‘Hole in the Wall’. It’s a truly beautiful spot. As we sailed in today we had dolphins under the bow and in 7.7m of water could see the bottom clearly.. Magic!

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Escaping to Middle Harbour

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After a long day dealing with the hot weather we were the very happy recipients of some most generous local kindness. Graham, the owner of the Swan 51 next door kindly drove us to exchange a gas bottle and reprovision. All with door to door service and so much kindness, thanks Graham, we hope to offer the same generosity to you should you visit Port Phillip Bay!
We watched the twilights that evening from the yacht club deck and met a family who only visit the yacht club once a year but who have a family tradition of coming down to watch the twilight racers, examining the boats as they leave, then placing their interfamily bets. Wonderful to see! They enjoyed a family dinner which must have easily spanned four generations and had a grand evening speculating! No sheep farms lost, but lots of fun!
The very strong southerly was booting Fling under her stern and making life uncomfortable so we moved to another pen, again with Graham’s assistance and support. It’s great to be in a marina which is all about sailing and sailors, as opposed to the many which are not affiliated with an active sailing group and are thus, just a ‘marina facility’.
Craving quietness we retreated the next day to the upper reaches of Middle Harbour.
Here after waiting to scoot under the opening bridge we sailed past enormous and impossibly placed waterfront mansions and in the blink of an eye we turned the corner to the greatest respite one could ever have from Sydney Harbour.
Bantry Bay is completely surrounded by Garrigal Nationsl Park. From even the midst of the eight public moorings you can see no houses, and hear only cicadas and birds calling.
In fact the only sound you might crave is the gentle and predictable sound of ‘Mr Vittoria’, the newspaper and coffee boatman who visits at eight am and four pm. Coffees and papers in the morning and ice creams and soft drinks in the afternoon. All is good in paradise!
I’m sure I have read somewhere that Bantry Bay became isolated from the public because of the raucous parties held there during the late 1920’s, but don’t quote me on that. It just might have been because this was the site that the government decided was a safe place to store munitions during the last two centuries.To this day it is forbidden to walk on the western shore, yet somehow the national trust has manged to re-roof several of the buildings!
After leaving Bantry Bay we headed across to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia where we spent a day relaxing over lunch on the deck (a tradition for us) and catching up with our beautiful niece Nicole and her partner Scott for dinner. Happily they live a mere 800m from the CYCA!
We enjoyed a grand dinner, much credit to Scott who just seems to have the knack with pork crackling, then wandered back home through the park to Fling.
This morning the weather looked ok, sounded ok, but was in fact cold and rainy, and as ever, on the nose. We left the heads with two warships accompanying us, as we did two years ago. (Do they not trust us I wonder?) By the time we were off Coogee Beach the weather had improved, the sea and sky sparkling.
The naval vessels headed out to sea and we headed a short 21 nm down the coast to Gunnamatta Bay. Currently enjoying a mooring and watching tomorrow’s weather to decide if we should enjoy this lovely inlet some more or set sail south once again.

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THIS IS SYDNEY!

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We have spent three days at Drummoyne near the back end of the harbour, visiting family and friends and enjoying Alex’s gift of a delicious Italian seafood meal in Sydney’s “Little Italy”.
Today we moved into Blackwattle Bay near Glebe.
The reason? A trip to the Sydney Fish Markets!
We came here on our way north and I was transfixed by the offerings!
Especially those of the kitchenalia shop but I came away with the credit card intact and only three lovley small fish bowls for condiments.
A wedding took place on the foreshore park near our anchorage, beautiful to watch.
We held our breath as the wind gusted and threatened to blow away their small wedding tent temple!
The next morning I decided to harness my fear of helming in busy places and managed to get us safely under the Anzac and Harbour bridges and up to to Athol Bay where we had spent New Years Eve. Athol Bay is just underneath the hillside which houses Taronga Zoo and has a lovely view back across the harbour to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The city skyline at night is magniicent.
This time we were a lot closer to the shore and as the afternoon progressed we were able to pick up a public mooring for the night.
Grand views back down the harbour at sunset and all the animals of the zoo above us. This is probably one of the premium free anchorages in Sydney Harbour.
Leaving there a quick sail to the east had us at Manly for a short anchor and shore visit.
The anchorage off the ferry wharf on a quiet day seems ok and its a quick walk to major supermarkets.
Back now in Middle Harbour where we expected to spend a day or two in the inner harbour, behind the opening Spit Bridge.
Last night we looked at the weather and with the current heatwave developing we decided to stay our further where we can get a good breeze.
Tonight finds us at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, the fridge running flat out and waiting to do a major reprovision tomorrow for our passage south on Thursday morning.

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New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour

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What better place to see in the New Year than Sydney Harbour? We departed Newcastle at 0400 hours and after sucessfully dodging one departing ship, four tugs and one incoming ship made our way to Sydney, 67 nm south. The sail proved to be a one tack wonder with the wind staying a consistent 10-15 knots off the port bow all day. We passed the fleet of cruising yachts heading from Pittwater to Lake Macquarie during the morning and entered Sydney Harbour at 1700hrs. We stopped overnight at Middle Harbour Yacht Club then headed off first thing in the morning to secure an anchorage under Bradleys Head. Rounding the head we were met with a view of wall to wall yachts! Undaunted Andrew entered the anchoring zone and we soon found a patch big enough to anchor in. We anchored just in front of Zefr, a yacht we had last seen in Coffs Harbour. After catching up with Anna and Gary we returned to Fling to ready her for our guests. In the early afternoon Andrew collected Ted and Jan from the ferry and we settled in to enjoy the evening. Amazingly many more yachts arrived during the afternoon and the anchoring, dragging and reanchoring techniques provided constant entertainment. A very large motor launch next to us kept everyone in line by using his horn to advise when to slow down or move off. A vessel further behind us used his stabilisers to create his own buffer zone and a young teenager whose parents had left him alone on their yacht dragged onto another yacht who kindly held him unntil he could be freed and reanchored. In general people were very cooperative which was a good thing as the northerly wind had freshened to the low twenties and there would have easily been three hundred yachts crowded into the small bay.
At twilight the entertainment began with a daredevil stunt plane zipping around the bridge and harbour. The nine pm fireworks came and went then all of a sudden it was midnight and the sky and bridge lit up. Five separate sites fired identical fireworks, the city buildings fired others off their roofs and the famous waterfall fireworks off the bridge provided the finale. Spectacular!
In the morning we took our guests on a tour of the harbour then headed down the harbour for a late lunch. Tonight finds us tied up at Birkenhead Point Marina exhausted but pleased we made the effort to get to Sydney in time to see in 2013.

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Fame and beyond

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Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the marina and set across to Fame Cove for the night. It’s only one nm away but could be a million miles away! Fame Cove is the local’s not-so-well-kept secret. It is an almost enclosed bay, surrounded by steep bushland covered hills. There’s barely any civilisation in sight other than the six public moorings. Immediately after we entered we were in millpond conditions, and the utter quietness after three days of howling winds was pure heaven. Nothing but birdsong to hear until the dolphins came in for their evening circuit of the bay at twilight. Then there was just the calm quiet breathing of two or three dolphins lazily working the bay for their evening supper.

We spied a familiar yacht on a mooring and recalled seeing him there on the same mooring on our way north 20 months ago. Can’t say we blame him really!

In the morning the whole sky had changed. Gone were the dark brooding clouds only to be replaced with a clean blue sky and sunlight dancing on the still water. Gone also was the persistant southerly which had plagued us for the last four days.

Time to move on to our last anchorage before we return home for Christmas.
Newcastle is a nice short daysail further south and, as we arrived at the entry to Port Stephens just on slack water we had an easy passage around the headland and then a favourable wind to make our passage. (At last!)

Lots of dolphins accompanied us as did the F18 Hornet jets which fly out of the military base at Williamstown. They were too fast for my camera but spectacularly low as they raced past us.

We are now tied up the marina at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club where all the interest has been on watching the coming and goings of tugs as they move the floating dock Muloobinba which lies opposite the marina to the next bay in preperation for it’s passage to the east coast of Africa after a refit in Singapore.
Muloobinba has been a local fixture here since 1978, so it will be quite a change of scenery for the Novocastrian’s when she makes her outward passage. Unfortunately she is now too small for most Australian ships so must find her work elsewhere.
Today her operators sank her to enable the loading of a floating crane which will travel with her, then raised her again as the tugs moved back in and she slowly made her way out of the marina precinct. Lots of people holding their breath as the wind decided to come gusting in just at that moment and we were pleased to see her safely clear our arm of the marina!

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Visiting Port Stephens and the marina from heaven!

Welcome to our new found paradise! Whilst we generally don’t endorse specific facilities we think this marina deserves special mention.
As I mentioned in the last post, marina’s around here are some the most expensive to stay in on the whole east coast. But this one earns it fees.
It is currently rated by the MIA as the best in Australia. It carries a five gold anchor rating, offering such luxuries as several courtesy cars, ranging from a late model Nissan Navara ute to a zippy little B class Mercedes hatch. There are also complimentary pushbikes, daily newspaper and coffee delivered to your vessel and in the summer months complimentary cocktails at the barefoot bar on the marina!
Whilst we didn’t avail ourselves of any of the latter we certainly did make use of the Mercedes for a bit of sightseeing and provisioning.

The very best aspect of this marina would have to be it’s helpful, friendly and easy going staff. During the last two days of our stay here the wind blew a solid and unpleasant 25-30 knots from the South. Jim and Adam, the dockmasters continually monitored the marina, checking lines the security of the boats.
For full details of the marina visit their website: www.soldierspointmarina.com.au
This first slideshow has marina facility pictures.

Sailing is a small world and as we tied up Fling we spotted a familiar burgee just in front of us. Macanudo of RBYC!
We wondered when we washed Fling down the other day why Macanudo’s back step was so dirty. That night the southerly hit, with great gusto and it was easy to see why Macanudo looked the way she did. Her entire transom step had dissappeared under a mound of dirty brown foam generated by the wind!
Being stuck in port is no hardship when transport is so readily available and on two separate days we took the little red Benz for a spin.
First to provision and check out the cafe culture in Shoal Bay near the heads, secondly to replace our broken kettle and visit the southern beaches. We liked Birubi Headland and Fingal Bay. Birubi sits at the top of Stockton Bight, a huge long beach which extends all the way down to the north shore of the Hunter river at Newcastle. It’s a fantastic surf beach with fine white sand. Fingal Bay is also on the seafront but is much more sheltered, being almost a cove and protected by an island with a drying spit at low tide. A great beach for small children.
On Saturday afternoon we sat in the cockpit and watched the very mixed fleet from Port Stephens Yacht Club start their race. The wind was a solid 25 knots from the north and it was interesting to watch the boats sail out of the lee, then almost fall over in the stiff winds! At least one retired as we watched.
On Sunday the southerly change came in. Within minutes we went from hot and sultry stillness to 30 knots and cold!Yesterday it blew all day and rained non stop. Only now is it clearing.
This evening we will head across to Fame Cove. Fame Cove is a local’s favourite because it is so sheltered. I remember last time we were there it was so quiet and peaceful we could hear the dolphins breathing as they made their evening circuit of the bay.

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From Port to Port…

 

Port Macquarie is, as are so many coastal towns on this part of the coast, an old colonial settlement. From sea the tall stands of Norfolk Island pines so commonly planted in  convict times are clearly visible. The footpaths are embedded with the names and life dates of the founding pioneers. Most lived a short life. It’s a pretty and prosperous township and the Port Macquarie Marina is a pleasant ten minute stroll along the foreshore to town. Just across the road from the marina is a large shopping centre. The Marina itself is serviced by a shipwright and hardstand, marine engineers and a small chandlery. There is an excellent cafe onsite.
The cafe supports the local wildlife, in this case a family of Water Dragons who wander fearlessly amongst the diners, nibbling on crumbs and the odd unguarded toe. There is also a population of quite sizeable fish who gather to be fed by cafe patrons around twenty times a day. Some would happily feed two people but we obediently resisted fishing as we are told we were in a marine sanctuary.
The winds are again unfavourable for heading south so we hired a car and headed down to visit Camden Haven and Laurieton. Andrew spent a few years living just inland from here in his childhood and we were keen to see how much the area had changed. We drove out to inspect the Camden Haven River entrance remembering our traumatic aborted entry here on our way north last year. (see ‘when pooped is = pooped as’  if you have not read that entry)
Today the bar is a picture of placidity. We duly noted the warning signs on the breakwall advising mariners of the dangers of the bar and advising life jacket useage! We reckon there should be flashing neon lights about five miles out to sea as well!!  But that’s just based on our experience! We regretted not having the chance to feast on local oysters and Yamba prawns from Armstrongs Oyster Barn last  year but quickly made up for lost time with a picnic on the river bank at Dunbogan.
After four days the forecast looked promising, winds variable on a 4m swell which was expected to drop off to 2-3 m in the afternoon with 10-15 knot N-NE breezes. Accordingly we planned a long daysail to Broughton Island, expecting to be able to pick up a mooring there at 20.00hrs after a 03.30 hrs start.
We crossed the bar just on the slack tide in the dark, (a first for us)  and after clearing the secondary or outer bar area 600m further out we headed for our rhumbline. As did the wind. The forecast of a 4 m swell was correct, but the wind direction wrong. For an hour in the middle of the day it gave us a good sail and Highland Fling hummed along as we delighted in the experience of being completely surrounded by dolphins, all leaping up for some ‘air time’! They were mostly of a smaller species than the bottlenose dolphins we usually see and were very nippy! We must have seen thirty pods during the day.
An hour of fun then the wind again headed us. Reefs in and out, headsail in and out, on it went. In the course of fourteen hours of sailing we covered 81nm and were only halfway through our passage plan. As the afternoon ‘NE seabreeze of 10-15 knots’ was in fact a 20-25 knot headwind we opted instead to turn into Forster for the night.
Cape Hawke Harbour offered us shelter and sleep. Local bushfires added to the haze but the entrance leads were visible from a mile out and the deep and stable entrance made entry a breeze. For $25.00 you can tie up to the wharves on the Tuncurry side but you will require a bargeboard and they cannot be easily fendered any other way.
A kind gentleman took our lines, a sailor himself and complimented us on our skill in sailing in with a double reefed main still up. I did not have the heart to tell him we were too stuffed to pull it down outside in 25 knots!
I thought to phone my brother who lives nearby, but sleep claimed me first.
Up again at 0400hrs and off again. Today’s winds were much friendlier and after beating through the swells to round Seal Rocks we were able to lay a more pleasant course to Port Stephens.
We initally contacted the D Albora marina where we stayed on our way up and were dissapointed to hear that the rates for our 10.5 m vessel were a whopping $130.00 per night. As all the public moorings seemed taken we then contacted Soldiers Point Marina, who invited us to stay at $75.00 per night! Needless to say we accepted immediately!

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Let’s just go…

After walking all the beaches, watching every weather report and half expecting to be given permanent residency status at Coff’s Harbour we finally found a weather window which suited our needs. We tracked it on the weather sites for three days and amazingly it didn’t change. Three whole days of downhill sailing, enough to get us to Port Stephens in comfort.
The night before we left a blow-in on our marina arm hailed us, Murray, owner of the beautiful Hans Christian ‘Tradition of Queenscliff’ and a long time member of QCYC was also making his passage south, returning from the Louisiades. It was great to catch up on all the QCYC news.
The next morning’s forecast was for 15-20 knots from the north. Accordingly we planned a long daysail to Port Macquarie, timing our arrival with the evening high tide.
What eventuated was a complete 180 degree reversal of the winds, with almost all day spent beating into headwinds in the low twenties. We expected some assistance from the East Australian Current and watched our water temperture gauge in vain. We plodded along all day making just half of our expected distance and taking an enormously long three hours to sail the last ten nautical miles! Later that evening we pulled up the BOM data on the EAC and saw we had sailed the whole day in a back eddy!
Interestingly the VMR continued to broadcast the exact same forecast all day…We tried to smile each time we heard it!
We anchored in Trial Bay just as the unforecast wind dropped out and were granted a blissfully peaceful night. Tradition stopped also for a rest before heading on to sail overnight to Port Stephens.
What a difference a day makes! Today’s sailing has been on mirror flat sea’s with loads of dolphin and picture perfect long golden beaches gliding by. At one stage we sailed by two baby sharks sunbathing at the sea’s surface. The Shearwaters kept us entertained with their incredibly graceful flying stunts, skimming the surface of the sea just millimetres off without ever catching their wings.
We arrived here in Port Macquarie about two and a half hours after the high tide. Port Macquarie has a deserved reputation for throwing rogue waves on it’s unpredictable bar. We approached with our usual caution despite the flat sea state.
All was well except the VMR operator told us to follow the leads. Unbeknown to us there is now only ONE remaining lead and it is a directional beacon which flashes red green or white if you are in the correct area for crossing the bar. White and green are the prefferred!!  Later discussion with a local Master 5 sailor confirmed the beacon had only been put inot commission a month ago.This change is not referenced in either Lucas’s guide or Navionics charts in the versions we have onboard, however we are guilty of not consulting notices to mariners.

After much scoping with the binoculars we decided to choose the northern side as there were fewer breaking waves there. VMR confirmed our choice, although they are not allowed to advise as such…
We eventually had a smooth crossing but it might have been handy to know there is only the one lead, not the two leads as eluded to by the VMR, and that the new lead is in fact a directional beacon!
No pictures of the nasty days sailing but lots of the nice one below, after all isn’t that what we like to think sailing is all about?

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Curing Cabin Fever

Ten days onboard and still not sailing south!
Welcome to the Coff’s Harbour branch of Hotel California. We wonder if we will ever leave…
Yesterdays strong southerlies which gusted to 40 knots in the marina had our patience frayed to their thinnest threads.
Time to get off the boat! When we arrived back up to Coff’s to rejoin Fling we first hired a car to visit family inland. We hired the car for a week and after checking with all the car rental booths at the airport we found the small local company the best.
Coming back to Fling after our visit and thinking we had a great weather window to head south we dropped the car off a day early.
Fast forward ten days and here we are, still in Coffs and going stir crazy. Time for another car..
We again contacted Coff’s Harbour Rent A Car and they happily agreed to bring a car down to us at the marina. When we went into the office to complete the paperwork for the rental, Greg let us know that since the previous rental had ended a day early our account had been refunded for a days rental! Today’s car hire cost us a total of $3.50!
Given that we hadn’t asked for a refund this honesty and generosity astonished us! We are happy to reccommend this company to cruisers heading north or south.
South is where we headed by road, touring Bonville, Urangan and Nambucca Heads before returning to Coff’s via the lovely town of Sawtell.
Bonville is known for it’s golf course. Urangan had little to offer us but we had a facinating walk to the head of the river at Nambucca.
The foreshore there is reinforced with large rocks and for a kilometre or so we wandered along reading the graffitti messages left on them. Some political, some religious, some very emotional tributes to lost friends and at least five marriage proposals!
Many are ornate mosaic’s and indeed in the main township a huge mosaic encrusts the footpath outside the Police Station.
On from Nambucca and heading north to Coff’s we stopped at Sawtell for lunch. This is a town we will most definately visit again. Great beach, good food and a really nice community atmosphere.


If you have spotify on your computer click below for today’s music…

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