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?