Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Sailing to Queensland, Winter 2017 - Part 13
Latest update 2 November 2017
Click here for previous part of this trip.
Tuesday 17 October 2017 â Bums Bay
It was very windy, over 23 knots the whole night and hit at least 39.5 knots. At 0330 the anchor alarm went off and when we checked, we were very close to a yacht near us (one of the âabandonedâ ones). We do not think we moved, but either this yacht has a lot of anchor chain out or very little and is just pivoting. Either way, we decide to move. We go about 50 metres to the north, closer to the sand spit and re-anchor. It really is annoying the people who just leave their boats anchored here.
At 0715 a barge that was in close to the eastern shore leaves so we move there and anchor between two of the Lightwaves. It is much calmer here as there is no current and less fetch. The wind is still 24 knots. We have breakfast and then take Veto to the beach. The dredge that is used on occasions to dredge Port Hacking (our home port) is anchored here.
|Catlypso, Hummingbird and Axis Mundi at Bums Bay||Another shot of the three Lightwaves from the beach|
Michael adds 22 litres of diesel to the main tank, it is now full and we can top this container up tomorrow. We go for a run down the bay and see that there is really only one decent place to anchor. On the way back we get very wet when it rains again! Another Lightwave 38, Nomad, comes and anchors out near where we anchored last night. There are now five here. We have now seen 32 Lightwaves on this trip, not bad considering only 80 have ever been launched to date.
A bloke I went to school with, Barry Mulligan, is up here for a conference and he comes to the wharf and is going to come over. However, it rains again and he is in good clothes and cannot get wet. We will try again tomorrow afternoon perhaps or Friday morning.
We watch a movie from the HDD. After we drop by Hummingbird (ex Easy Rider) on the way to the beach. This is owned by Kev and Paddy who used to own Ultimate Dream. On New Yearâs Eve 2004 Kelly and I went on board Ultimate Dream when it was anchored off Taronga Zoo next to our friendâs boat. This was when we decided we wanted to buy a Lightwave. Paddy is away in Sydney, so we just spoke to Kev.
After the beach we come back and have sundowners. We then watch another movie and Kelly makes flat lamb roast and vegies. The wind is still between 30 and 32 knots. We go to bed at 2100.
Wednesday 18 October 2017 â Bums Bay
It rained on and off during the night but it was calm despite the strong wind. We get up at 0710 and Michael takes Veto to the beach. We have breakfast and then Michael drops Kelly at the wharf. She goes to the shops and also fills our empty fuel container with diesel.
Michael dropped over to Nomad and talks to Glen, one of the owners. This boat is owned by a syndicate and has been for eight years. They are going to sell it later this year, so if you are interested, keep an eye out for it.
|Four Lightwaves in this photograph ||This very strange boat came in today, a houseboat with |
a strange mast and two headsails and a mainsail. Very, very ugly.
Kelly came back at 1000 and when Michael collected her, a bloke asked if he could give him a lift back from his yacht once he put his dinghy back on it. Michael later went and collected him, looks like he is leaving it anchored out to the south-west from us for a while. He asked that we watch it for him and gave us his phone number and told us where the keys were.
At 1115 Michael took Kelly back to the wharf and she left. She is driving her Mum to Sydney. She later calls from Coffs Harbour where they are staying the night. Kelly has to go to a job interview on Friday and her nieceâs first birthday parties. She will fly back on Sunday.
After lunch Michael starts the engines and runs to check the water cooling. It all seems okay, so he cannot figure out why they both overheated on Monday. Perhaps something got caught around the intakes. He later takes Veto for a walk to the Seaway. A lot of construction work is going on with new parking areas, roads and other facilities being built.
|Reconstruction of the roads and car parks ||The Seaway looking along the south breakwater. |
Look at all the whitewater!
The Seaway is extremely rough and only an idiot would be attempting to go in or out today. On the way back they stop and look at all the V8 Supercar transporter trucks parked there. Apparently there is a series of races here on the weekend.
Michael later runs the generator to heat water for a shower and also to make rice. He takes Veto to the beach for a short run before it starts raining again (not much rain since this morning). He has a shower and sundowners and then makes green lamb curry using leftover lamb from last night. The web site is updated and he reads some more of his latest book.
Thursday 19 October 2017 â Bums Bay
Last night it did not rain from about 2300 and the wind dropped dramatically. When Michael gets up at 0710 there is even a bit of blue sky, the first we have seen for over a week. After a quick trip to the beach for a walk and breakfast, Michael starts reading his book again. Not much else he can do these coming days.
Kelly rings from Port Macquarie where she has stopped for morning tea. She should be at her sisterâs place in western Sydney by early afternoon. Later Michael did some emailing and computer work organising two dive trips we are running for our club in early 2018.
|The V8 Supercar transporters||Axis Mundi, Catlypso and Hummingbird |
At 1020 Michael and Veto walked across the road and the dunes to the main beach and then north to the Seaway. Wow, talk about rough! Even though at least six yachts left this morning (seen on AIS), it is now an outgoing tide and there is no way any person in their right mind would take a yacht through there in either direction. In fact, it is blowing so much and the waves so high he cannot even walk to the end of the breakwater.
On the way back Michael drops in and says hello to Terrance the new owner of Axis Mundi. He purchased it 10 months ago and has been down to Tasmania and even up the Gordon River. Michael is back by 1215. Kelly gets to Sydney at 1315. After lunch and some more reading, Veto and he go to the sand spit for another walk.
|A panoramic photograph of part of the anchorage at Bums Bay|
More reading, another walk! Not much else to do. The barge that has been anchoring all over the place came back earlier and anchored near Hummingbird. When the wind changes they are only 15 or 20 metres apart so Kev moves. Some âprofessionalsâ really have no idea. MIchael has sundowners and then cooks rogan josh lamb and rice for dinner.
The weather is now looking bad from Saturday through to mid Monday, so we might be able to leave on Tuesday. Will see!
Friday 20 October 2017 â Bums Bay
Very calm night. It was mostly sunny today, the first day like this for well over a week. Michael and Veto have a late start and then a walk on the beach. Barry Mulligan and his wife Kirsten come on board for breakfast at 0840. Barry went to school with Michael from the age of 8 and they have not seen each other for 11 years.
|Michael and Barry on the back steps |
Barry brings along bacon and eggs etc and cooks it on the barbecue while Michael makes toast. They have a great time catching up and meeting Kirsten for the first time. They leave at 1010 and start the drive back to the Central Coast where they now live.
All morning a RIB has been running around very slowly with Chinese tourists in it. It seems they are paying to have a drive of it as they each take turns. There is also a jetski that many have a go at. After they finish, one of the blokes bogs his Toyota FJ Cruiser on the beach next to the boat ramp. No idea why he was even there.
Michael went over and helped. He got them to drop the air pressure in the tyres and straighten the wheels to point forward as well as the digging they were doing. The bloke whose car it was (presumably a rental), got Michael to drive it out. The first attempt failed as despite what he was told, it was not in 4WD. As soon as he figured it out, it came straight out. Good deed for the day!
After lunch Michael and Veto again walk to the Seaway. The ocean is much calmer but the Seaway is still way too rough to exit at this time of the tide. They are back after 90 minutes. Michael later puts the generator on to heat water for a shower and while this is happening, he takes Veto to the sand spit for a last walk. On the way back he tells the barge operator what happened after he left yesterday. This time he seems to have anchored better.
|Another panoramic photograph, this time of the southern part of the anchorage at Bums Bay|
However, there is a huge catamaran now anchored next to Catlypso. This came in while Michael was walking to the Seaway. It is another case of very bad anchoring as he has not staggered so that he is ahead or behind of us.
Michael has garlic bread and lasagne for dinner, leftovers from ages ago.
Saturday 21 October 2017 â Bums Bay
Well, that was an awful night! The catamaran next to us turns out to be a âparty boatâ. Last evening the bloke went to the wharf a number of times and returned with many young people, probably 10 at least that Michael saw. They started partying but as the stern was pointing away from us, the noise was okay.
At 0115 the wind must have changed because Michael was awoken by very loud music. This went on till 0215 when it eased a bit. Michael took the opportunity to ask them to turn the music down or off and go to bed. He got abused by them, âwhy did you anchor in the party boat spot?â they say. Well, in the three or four weeks we have spent anchored here over the past two years, including over weekends, not once have we encountered a âparty boatâ at night.
Thankfully the reason the music eased was that the party was over and the owner took two loads of people back to the wharf. The rest of the people on board (at least 6 it seems) went to bed. Totally inconsiderate. The boat seems to be supplying alcohol and food to the people attending and thus would seem to be an illegal charter boat as it does not have charter registration and presumably also does not have a liquor licence. Michael then cannot get to sleep for over an hour.
After only 4.5 hours sleep, Michael gets up at 0710. It has been raining since 0500 so he does not take Veto to the beach. The wind was 17 knots from the south earlier but then drops to 4 knots from all over the place. At 1000 the owner takes four people to the wharf, looks like they are going to the V8 Supercars race, so they intend to be here again tonight.
|Looking towards Surfers Paradise/Southport as the rain continues |
Michael decides to move so at 1030 he ups anchor (first time he has done this by himself) and motors further into Bums Bay. The finds a large spot on the western side just inside and anchors off the beach. A much better spot anyway. The rain eases a bit so he then takes Veto to the sand spit for a walk.
It is raining and cold, only 18â°C. Michael tried to fix the engine controls as the port one is very heavy. However, he made it overall much worse. The port one is a lot easier now but the starboard one will not change into gear at all. This is very strange to understand as Michael did not really do anything other than pull it apart. He puts it all back together and will look at it again tomorrow morning, we have at least one engine that will work.
Michael takes Veto to the beach, it is raining but not too bad. The V8s are still roaring around. Michael has some nibblies but no beer, he needs a break! At 1745 a concert starts somewhere to the south, it is very loud, but nowhere near as loud as the music coming from the idiot catamaran last night. Michael has garlic bread and lasagne for dinner and goes to bed early after watching some episodes of Fawlty Towers.
Sunday 22 October 2017 â Bums Bay
It was a calm night and no rain. When Michael gets up at 0710 it is sunny. As normal, he takes Veto to the beach and then has breakfast.
As soon as he finishes, he looks again at the engine controls. He disconnected the cable from the saildrive and the control handle moves freely, so that means that it is not the controls that is causing the problem. He then checks the port one to see how it is supposed to work. He tries to manual move the gear handle on the saildrive but it will not move more than a few millimetres.
He decides to start the engine and turn it off and then try again. It moves freely into gear. Looks like the alignment of the gear cogs was causing the problem. He puts it all back together and then tries the engine and puts into gear, forward and reverse. It works perfectly. He then checked the oil in the drives and engines and adds 45 litres of water to the starboard forward tank. He also flushes the watermaker.
It is now very warm. Earlier a timber boat came in and anchored way too close to us and another couple of boats. He moves later to another spot, just as close to one boat I reckon. Strange when there was a really nice spot south of me available after another larger boat left.
The V8s have started racing again. Michael phones Kelly to check that everything is okay for her return this evening and then walks with Veto out to the Seaway again. They walk along the main beach, there are hundreds of dogs in the kilometre or so we have to go and at times Veto gets a bit worried so he has to pick her up and carry her for a couple of bits.
The water in the Seaway is very calm today, looking good for when we leave in a day or two. After we get back Michael has lunch and then goes to the southern boat ramp where there is a water tap. This has a special key to unlock but we have one (from Bunnings). He fills up the two water containers and takes them back and puts into the forward tank again.
|Very calm at the Seaway||Our new anchor spot|
An RAAF BAE Hawk 127 training jet does some very low flyovers of the racing track (which is around downtown Southport). Michael goes and gets another 45 litres of water and puts 22 in the rear tank. We now have completely full tanks. He later fills up that container too.
He takes Veto for a walk on the sand spit and notices some people depart and leave a huge amount of rubbish behind. Pigs! He decides to clean this up tomorrow morning. He runs the generator while he is walking and makes rice for dinner and heats water for a shower. He later cooks massaman chicken curry.
Kelly arrives at the airport at 1745 and catches the two buses to get to Sea World. At 2045 Michael and Veto go to the wharf and walk to meet her. We are back on board by 2115. We have a couple of drinks and go to bed.
Monday 23 October 2017 â Bums Bay
We decided last night that we were not leaving this morning as the forecast was not great. We get up at 0710 and Michael takes Veto to the beach. There is lots of cloud around and it looks like rain to the north. After breakfast we walk along the beach to the Seaway. It is even calmer than yesterday, but there is a big storm out to sea and also a bunch of them to the west of us.
As we get closer back to Bums Bay, the rain starts, but it is not too heavy. The two storms have joined up and on the weather radar it looks very bad. There is plenty of lightning and thunder. We get back to Catlypso and close all the hatches.
|Kelly walking along the beach with Surfers Paradise in the background||Michael at the end of the Seaway, look at the storm|
The rain is only light but there are some very close lightning flashes and loud thunder claps. The rain stops after about two hours. We have lunch and stay on board and read some more.
|The storm as we walk back over the sand dunes||The storm from Catlypso looking south-west|
At 1545 we go to the beach closest to us and walk right around the spit to the western side. Here we find all the rubbish left by the pigs yesterday. We collect it all (almost a full carton of empty beer bottles and more) and walk the 30 metres to the garbage bins and dispose of it. We really cannot understand how selfish some people are, it amazes us. We walk all the way to the southern end of the beach and then back to Thunderbird 2.
We have sundowners and then Michael has left over Malaysian food from the other week and Kelly cooks fish.
Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 October 2017 â Bums Bay to Coffs Harbour
The following times are all NSW Daylight Saving times. We get up at 0605. Michael does a few things and then takes Veto to the beach. He stows the dinghy, gets the chartplotter set up and also puts the radar back in its mount. Kelly gets the mainsail ready. We make tea and coffee and at 0650 we leave. While we motor out, Kelly logs on with the Seaway Tower for our journey to Coffs Harbour.
The Seaway is very calm. Once outside we do a 360â° circle to recalibrate the fluxgate compass as it is again out of wack. We then pull up the main and genoa and head for Point Danger at the Tweed River. We have one engine on at 2200 rpm and are doing 5.7 knots into a 1.2 knot current with 5 knots of south-westerly wind. We swap to the screecher for a short while and then back again as the wind is a bit all over the place.
A large number of boats leave around the same time, most headed for Coffs Harbour. There is another Lightwave 38, Phlat Chat, Blackwattle, Freycinet II, Strega, Simply Irresistible and Shakira all sailing near us. Many have AIS so it is easy to keep track of them.
|Flat as a tack as we exit the Seaway ||Off Surfers Paradise heading south|
At 0845 the wind goes on the nose so we pull in the genoa. At 1035 we are abeam of Point Danger so turn more towards the south and pull out the genoa again. We are doing 6.4 knots into a 0.2 knot current at 2200 rpm and a very slight breeze. The seas are much smoother now. At 1145 we change to the screecher, we are doing 7.3 knots with no current at 2200 rpm and 8 knots of wind. Half an hour later we turn off the engine and do anywhere from 6.2 to 6.8 knots in 10 to 12 knots of easterly wind.
At 1240 a SART (Search And Rescue Transmitter) goes off and appears via AIS on our chartplotter and laptop. It is situated behind Byron Bay and is moving slowly. Michael calls Marine Rescue Point Danger (Cape Byron did not answer) and advises them. Later the Water Police in Sydney call and advise that AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) has advised that it is a sort of burglar alarm and has gone off because the boat has been moved. It continues to go off for a couple of hours.
As we pass Cape Byron at 1430, Phlat Chat passes us but soon after we repass them as they get caught in a current while we head out further and have current with us. A little later we put an engine back on at 2000 rpm as we need to keep our speed up as we have decided to try to go to Camden Haven, another 82 miles on, if we can. We need to be off Coffs Harbour by 0500 at the latest for us to make it across the bar before dark.
|Phlat Chat passes us off Cape Byron||The sea off Yamba at sunset|
At 1600 off Lennox Head we pull down the main as we are getting little out of it and also do not plan to have it up during the night. We are doing 6.6 knots with the wind behind us at 11 knots and one engine at 2000 rpm. We have seen quite a few humpback whales and dolphins today as well. At 1700 we are off Ballina, the wind is 17 to 20 knots behind us now and we are doing 7.7 to 8.0 knots with an engine on.
Kelly does the first night shift from 1800 to 2100. We heat up lasagne in the microwave for dinner. We swap to the genoa at 2000 as the wind is now 30 knots and more. Michael took over at 2200 as Kelly decided she was not tired. At 2355 we sked with Marine Rescue Coffs Harbour by phone. We are south-east of Pimpernel Rock. The wind has now dropped back to anywhere between 15 and 23 knots and the seas are a lot calmer than before.
At 0100 Kelly comes back on shift. There are lots of trawlers around here, but all are further out to sea. Michael took back over at 0430 after getting about 1.5 to 2 hours sleep. The wind is now only 12 knots. We end up entering Coffs Harbour just after dawn and we get a mooring north of the main jetty. We have had a very quick run from the Gold Coast, a bit windy for a couple of hours but mostly good.
Once moored, we try to get some sleep, but Michael never can. Kelly gets about 2.5 hours more sleep. Later Michael takes Veto to the shore for a run and a pee. On the way back he stops off at Blackwattle who has taken the mooring next to us. Christian agrees it was a nice trip. Michael tops up our fuel (44 litres).
Later when Kelly wakes up we go to shore. Kelly has to print out some papers, fill them in and scan and send off. This is for a new job with the NSW Police Force which she will start in a bit over a week. Our printer/scanner has decided it will not work on our wifi network, so she catches a cab to the library and does it there. She also gets some food items, luckily, as the IGA at the jetty is closed for renovations or a move.
|Sunrise as we approach Coffs Harbour ||A building on the north side of Coffs Harbour reflects the sun|
Michael tries to have a sleep but fails. He later picks Kelly up from the new public wharf when she returns. This is a nice wharf but it has no bollards for dinghies to tie to on the backside, it has a 15 minute limit and you cannot leave a boat unattended. Also, two professional fishing boats appear to have misappropriated the ends for their own personal berth. Seems you do not need to worry about the limits as above.
At 1600 we go to shore and walk along the marina boardwalk. They are still repairing the damage from the huge storm back in early 2016. The breakwater has been widened and many more huge rocks and concrete blocks put in place. A new section of marina boardwalk has been built, broken bits repaired and the marina arms that we destroyed fixed. We walk to Muttonbird Island (connected to land for 100 years or more) and then back out and around to the old jetty.
|The boardwalk and breakwater||Blackwattle and Catlypso from the old jetty|
We are back by 1705 and have showers and then well-earned sundowners. It is now very windy, 20 to 27 knots north-easterly. A US boat Three Sixty Blue comes in from New Caledonia. We help them find an anchoring spot on the other side of the wharf. Quite a few boats will come in today and tonight from there. We have Thai flavoured beef fajitas for dinner, excellent. We go to bed early at 2030.
Thursday 26 October 2017 â Coffs Harbour
It was calm but windy at times during the night. It rained for a while too. Another yacht came in from New Caledonia during the night and anchored near us. We get up at 0715 and Michael takes Veto to shore. We have breakfast. We listen as Border Force talks to the boats from New Caledonia. They take them in one at a time to process and only get through three in the whole day. Not very good, considering a yacht will come in later today and should have been processed but had to stay out overnight.
|A panoramic photograph from the top of South Coffs Island looking north |
At 1130 we go to the boat ramp on the south side. We walk to the beach and then up to the top of South Coffs Island (which is also now connected to the mainland). Nice views from here. After this we go out along the southern breakwater. A huge amount of work has been done here over the past couple of years, with thousands of additional concrete blocks added on the outside of the wall. Even then, some of these ones have been moved, some by a metre. The wind is now 20 to 25 knots so we have a rough trip back to the boat.
By 1530 the wind is a constant 30 to 33 knots north-easterly (max 35.3). However, by 1600 it has dropped back to 22 knots, so at 1630 Michael takes Veto for a walk to the shops and gets a paper. He is back by 1700. There is a storm to the north of us and another one to the south-west. It looks like it will miss us based on its movements. There is a lot of lightning and thunder.
|A panoramic photograph from the end of the southern breakwater looking west|
We have sundowners and at about 1810 we start to get a bit of rain. The clouds do not look too bad but soon we have huge drops falling, not many but they are enormous. Within five minutes small hail starts and then it turns into a full on hailstorm. The hail is the size of ping-pong balls. The sound is horrendous, not just smashing on the boat, but hitting the water.
|At the height of the hailstorm||Looking towards the entrance into the marina, almost invisible |
|Some of the hail collected from the trampolines||Rainbow after the hailstorm moves out to sea |
The rain is still pouring down too, forced in between the joins in the helm clears so that spray is all over the place. Hail bounces off parts of the boat and hits us as we watch from the cockpit. The hail stops after 10 minutes. As it does, it sounds like a jumbo jet is taking off to the east of us, this is the noise from the hail hitting the water. We check the wind speed indicator and see that the maximum wind was 48.3 knots, almost 100 km/h.
We check out the boat but find no damage, just a lot of hail all over the place. The other three boats near us also are out checking. No-one appears to have suffered any damage. Later there is a huge storm out to sea, stretching from as far as we can see to the north to the south. There is continuous lightning. We have a creamy pasta dinner as we watch the display. We go to bed at 2130, the wind is now only 5 knots.
Friday 27 October 2017 â Coffs Harbour
It was a fairly calm night but at 2310 the forecast southerly change hit at about 23 knots. it dropped to 15 knots within 30 minutes. At 0800 it is calm and sunny as we get up. Michael drops over to Blackwattle to see how they went last evening. Christian reports no problems at all apart from water forced in through joins in canvas. He also sees that he was with Escape Velocity at Lady Musgrave Island. We have been following Jack and Marcâs blog for three or four years at least, well before they left the east coast of America. We saw their boat in Mooloolaba as we sailed out.
He says he is leaving tomorrow and going to go non-stop to Sydney. At that stage we planned to only go to Camden Haven but later we decide to go to Port Stephens or perhaps even Pittwater. We should be able to get to Pittwater by sunset on Sunday if all goes well. We have a couple of spots where we can make decisions to stop or go on, so we will play it by ear.
Kelly goes into the marina and does some clothes washing, Michael especially is running out of clean shirts. She also gets a nice bottle of Australian sparkling wine for our last night dinner.
|A wartime observation pillar near South Coffs Island ||Boambee Beach from the hill to the north|
After lunch we go for a walk. First we stopped off at Blackwattle to tell Christian that we are now going to go for Pittwater. We also tell him about the night food markets that are on tonight in the park behind at Park Beach. We tell him we will be going to have dinner there. After this we go to the boat ramp again. This time we walk down to Boambee Beach and walk along this for a kilometre or so. Then we go to walk out to the breakwater again but Veto is too tired, so we head back to Catlypso.
When we are back on board, Michael gets a phone call from the Seaway Tower. They say that a call has been logged for us at 1353 NSW time to go from there to Sydney. This is strange, but even stranger is that the details of our boat are missing, including most of Michaelâs name, our on-shore and boat phone numbers and more. We tell them that we did not log on and we are in Coffs.
Michael logs onto the NSW Marine Rescue software that runs this (Seahawk) as we are both radio operators. He finds the call and, yes, it is very strange. He then phones the person at MRNSW who is responsible for the software as a strange thing like this has happened before. However he is not at his desk and we do not get a call back from the message we leave. Michael will investigate this next week when he goes in for duty.
We then flush the watermaker and run the generator to heat water for showers. Michael also creates a route on the chartplotter for the journey from here to Pittwater. We have showers and at 1650 we head into the wharf and then walk to the food markets. This only takes 20 minutes at the most.
|Catlypso and the old jetty||The food markets early in the evening|
There are not many people there when we arrive, so we go for a walk though and look at all the stalls. There are plenty of different foods to select from, including Eritrea and some exotic Mediterranean ones Michael has never heard of. We then pick a spot and sit down and have a drink (BYOG). The market is pet friendly, so Veto is with us.
We go and get some Eritrea entrees to start, they are excellent. Soon Christian and Jasmine his crew member arrive. They get some food and we head off and get another dish which we share. We have another one after this. By now the park is crowded and there are long queues on some of the stalls. We finish off with some dessert! A nice evening.
On the way back we run into Mark and Anne from the US boat Three Sixty Blue and Lisa and (sorry!) from Summer Loving. Lisa was the one who told Kelly about the markets, they have been delayed by drinks! We are back on board and in bed by 2130. The wind now is 17 knots southerly.
Saturday 27 October 2017 â Coffs Harbour to Sydney Harbour
We get up at 0330 and the wind has dropped to 6 knots south-westerly. We make tea and coffee and Kelly pulls up the main. We leave at 0350 and motor out and around Korfs Islet. Once out here, we pull out the genoa as well. We are doing 6.2 to 6.8 knots with an engine on at 2400 rpm and wind of 8 to 12 knots. We have finally decided that our boat log which gives speed through the water must now not be accurate, as we still have 1.5 knots of current showing against us which is plainly not correct.
Off Urunga at 0530 we swap to the screecher and turn the engine off, but soon it was back on as we were going too slow (we need to average 6.0 knots to get to Pittwater by dark tomorrow night). It is a bit sloppy but not too bad, with a largish 1.5 metre swell from south-east at times. At 0600 we go back to the genoa without any real loss in speed (6.2 knots).
|Fish Rock at left and Smoky Cape at right||The dive boats at Fish Rock |
At 0730 it got very rough for 30 to 40 minutes when the wind hit 15 knots almost on the nose. By 0840 it was back to 9 to 11 knots. we are doing 6.6 knots with the engine at 2400 rpm. By 0920 there is a 2 metres rolling swell and we have to pull in the genoa as the wind is right on the nose. We passed Fish Rock off South West Rocks at 1010 and Michael spoke to Peter Hitchins, one of the two brothers who own SWR Dive Centre who we have been diving with for almost 30 years (with their late Dad Noel and now them).
At 1200 we pull the screecher out and turn off the engine. Over the next almost four hours we do anywhere from 6.1 to 8.3 knots. We pass Port Macquarie at 1445 but at 1535 our speed drops to 5 knots so we have to start an engine. We really need to get to Pittwater tomorrow night as in the early afternoon on Monday a strong southerly changes hits Sydney and is forecast to last till at least the next Saturday, meaning if we want to get home in the next week we have to go for it.
At 1630 we drop the mainsail as the wind is astern and we are gaining nothing from it. We also do not sail at night with it up, so we might as well pull it down now. Even without a sail up we are doing almost 6.6 knots. Later at 1745 we put the screecher back out as our speed dropped and the wind went up to 13 to 15 knots. We are doing about 6.2 knots with a slight current against us.
Kelly gets us some sundowners (no grog, we are dry when actually moving) and then Michael heats up leftover pumpkin gnocchi and small pork schnitzels that Kelly cooked yesterday. Kelly is now on watch and Michael has a shower to try and help him sleep. He goes to bed with Veto but probably only got about 30 minutes sleep before he had to take over at 2100.
We are doing 8 plus knots with the screecher out and engine on so he drops revs to 2000 rpm to slow us up a bit. We are doing 6.6 to 7.2 knots in 13 to 18 knots of wind from astern. The seas are no much calmer than when Kelly was on watch. Around us are four other yachts, Billabong, Aquila, Pilgrim and Champs Elysee, all within six miles. At times we are doing 7.7 to 8.2 knots in 18 to 22 knots of wind. The wind hits a maximum of 25.3 knots, much less than the 35 experienced a few nights ago.
As we near Seal Rocks, there is a helicopter symbol on the chartplotter for an AIS contact. Michael thinks it must be a search and rescue chopper but the MMSI appears to have been made up as it is 111111111 which cannot be correct (a chopper would be something like 111502306). It turns out to be a fishing trawler, looks like he cannot be bothered to get a proper MMSI.
At 2310 Michael swaps the screecher to the port side as the wind has gone totally behind us. We will turn to starboard once we round Seal Rocks so it needs to be on that side anyway. At 2350 Kelly gets up and checks in with MR Forster and sets up a sked for 0600 with Newcastle. Kelly has had a reasonable sleep, although she did get up a couple of times.
Sunday 29 October 2017 â Coffs Harbour to Sydney Harbour (continued)
At 0000 Kelly takes over and Michael goes to bed. He gets about two hours sleep over the next three hours. Kelly later pulls in the screecher as the wind goes more north-east and behind and also drops. At 0300 Michael takes over again and 15 minutes later we are off the entrance to Port Stephens. At 0500 the screecher goes back out again, we pick back up to 6.3 knots from the 5.8 we dropped to. Later we try the genoa but not much is working, the wind is light and right behind us and we are going almost as fast as the wind.
|The blue water off the Central Coast||North Head and Sydney Harbour |
During the night the phosphorescence in the water was amazing, the best either of us has ever seen. The hulls leave bright white wakes behind, especially the one that has the engine running. If there are any small waves, you can see them clearly. Brilliant!
Michael lets Kelly sleep in a bit after he checks in with MR Newcastle. She gets up at 0620 and takes over. Michael tries to get some sleep but no luck. He later gets breakfast for us. We motor mostly without a sail for the rest of the morning, although we try the genoa and screecher a few times. There are about 12 yachts now between Seal Rocks and Newcastle which left Coffs Harbour yesterday morning, we are spread out a long way.
Around this time we decide to go to Sydney Harbour rather than Pittwater as we are so far ahead of schedule that it will be easily possible. In fact, we probably could push it and get to Port Hacking, certainly Botany Bay, but we decide to spend our last night in the most beautiful harbour in the world.
In the afternoon Michael tries recalibrating the boat log to try to get it to be more accurate. He thinks he has achieved this, but then he had done this three years ago but it seems to have again got out of whack. At 1300 we put the screecher back out as the wind is now 16 knots. We are doing 6.9 knots with only a very slight indicated current behind us.
The water today has been the bluest and cleanest we have seen on this whole six month trip. The fact that this is really near to Sydney is amazing.
|Kelly, Veto, Paul and Claire on Pilgrim||Kelly, Michael and Veto at sunset |
The wind and speed stays that way all the rest of the afternoon and at 1600 we enter Sydney Harbour. The water is still blue and in fact, as we enter Quarantine Bay it is still amazingly blue and clear. At 1625 we anchor off Store Beach. It is a brilliant Sydney spring day, with hundreds of people on the beaches near here and on the water. There are dozens of boats here, but we figure that most will leave within an hour or so.
We take Veto to Little Manly Beach for a run and then head back. On the way we stop off at Pilgrim who have anchored in front of us. You will recall that they have sailed with us from Coffs Harbour and also that in 2015 we saw them at Bundaberg after the owner, Paul, was run over by a dinghy and taken to hospital. Paul and Claire invite us over for sundowners later.
|A panoramic photograph from Spring Cove looking south-west towards the city|
We move once there is space closer into shore. We go into Spring Cove and anchor off Collins Beach near the old Manly gas works. We have showers and then go over to Pilgrim.
They are a charter boat that spends summer in Sydney and winter at Magnetic Island at Townsville. They run day charters only. We discuss the sail from Coffs and find out why they did some strange manoeuvres (visible on AIS). It turns out that they hooked up a fishing trap buoy during yesterday and this damaged their stuffing box (where the prop shaft comes into the hull). They have had problems with the box popping off and water pouring in. Each time they had to slow or stop to fix.
|A fantastic sunset||A nice bottle of Grant Burge we had with dinner|
We have a nice time and at 1900 we return to Catlypso. Kelly cooks American Memphis style pork and vegies. We have this with a very nice Grant Burge sparkling wine. A special meal for our last night on the boat and also our longest sail ever. It is now very calm and most boats have left. It is quiet as well. We go to bed at 2130.
Monday 30 October 2017 â Sydney Harbour to Port Hacking (home)
Last night was as calm a night as we have had on this trip, amazing as we are in the busiest harbour in Australia. The water is also the cleanest we have had at any location on mainland Australia in the past six months. It is sunny when we get up at 0610 and will turn out to be the hottest day we have on the trip, 37â°C.
While Michael takes Veto to Little Manly Beach, Kelly makes tea and coffee. At 0645 we leave and motor out through Sydney Heads and head south. It is very sloppy as despite there being almost no wind, the waves here are bouncing back off the cliffs as there is no rock platform to dissipate the waves.
|A fantastic sunset||A nice bottle of Grant Burge we had with dinner|
Once we pass Bondi Beach the seas calm dramatically. The wind is under 4 knots but we are motoring at 6.6+ knots thanks to a favourable current. We pass Maroubra Beach at 0810 and at 0830 we alter course to go in very close to Little Bay as Michaelâs sister, Janelle, has come down with her kids Josh and Isabelle to see us go past. We see them very close and then continue on.
We pass Botany Bay and then enter Bate Bay, the entrance to Port Hacking. The current drops off. We see on AIS that Leana is moored at Jibbon Beach. David sailed with us for a few weeks on and off coming down from Middle Percy Island. We drop past and say hello. David got home about two weeks ago.
|Approaching Little Bay||Janelle, Josh and Isabelle on the cliffs at Little Bay |
We motor up Port Hacking, logging off with Marine Rescue Solander (where we do radio duty) and then go into Yowie Bay. We find our mooring, all newly serviced (and that was a marathon effort spread over 18 months). It is 1035. Janelle has come down and will take Michael to our house to get our car and other smaller dinghy.
We get a lot of things together (Kelly has been doing this on the way down). We fill Thunderbird 2 with things and we head into the wharf. Janelle takes Michael and all the things to our house. Michael puts everything in the house and then gets our little dinghy and outboard from under the house. He has to clean a lot of dirt off them before putting them in Kellyâs Subaru Forester (we cannot use our Toyota Prado as it has a flat battery).
|Passing Botany Bay ||Coming into Bate Bay and Port Hacking, almost home!|
Kelly meets Michael at the wharf and we pump up the dinghy and start the engine. It takes a while to start the engine, especially since Michael forgot to open the fuel flow. Once he does this it starts straight away. We go back to Catlypso and load up some more things before returning to the wharf. Michael then tows the small dinghy back with Thunderbird 2, hoists it back up on the davits and then goes back to the wharf.
We put the small dinghy on the roof of the Forester and then head home. It is extremely hot and we are happy that we are finally on our way home. We are back at home at 1430. While we were unloading the boat the wind, the wind changes to north-westerly and increases to 20 knots or so. At 1645 it changes to the south and hits 30 knots. We got home just in time.
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