Monday, May 5, 2014

Gold Coast, Tipplers Passage and The completion of the voyage.

Saturday - 26/04/2014
Up early and underway by 0540 hours, we headed out of Iluka Harbour and out to the bar crossing and as we neared the bar the fishing boats were entering after a nights fishing. After getting into clear water we hoisted the mainsail to try and catch what little wind was around a little later we were able to set the headsail also. We have 102NMS to the Seaway so we should get there in good time the way we are going. The seas were a little confused at times having swell come from two directions.
(A yacht motored passed us nearing Cape Byron)
(Not long after the yacht passed by I had a strike on the line)
(A nice yellow fin tuna, 650mm and quite a few meals)

We neared the Gold Coast near midnight and crossed the bar at low tide at 0040 hours on 27/04/2014.
Sunday - 27/04/2014
After entering the Seaway at the Gold Coast we headed north and anchored off South Stradbroke Island near Perry's and then got the head down by 0130 hours.
We were up again by 0630 hours due to the usual thing that happens in this mad place high speed boats heading out to fish rocking the you know what out of us. We often say that you only sail to the Gold Coast to pass through it and the Seaway.
(Early morning looking back at Surfers Paradise down the Broadwater)

So whilst at Iluka when we met Trevor and Gaye on 'Biaha' a Lagoon catamaran and I told them about a quiet anchorage near Paradise Point as they left before us and we said we would see them there. So we weighed anchor and headed for that anchorage, well when we got there it was packed, Trevor was the last boat in the line, as we neared him I said someone let the secret out.
We found a whole and dropped anchor and they came over a little later and they said they had let Shelly and Rick off 'Neriki' know that we have arrived and they would probably be here tomorrow, they are good friends of ours, so a dinner was being organised.
(Nice day at the anchorage but busy with these jet skis, love to have open season on some of them)
(Something more sedate) 

After a while we headed ashore to pick up a few things and have coffee. We then had a quiet day and almost a quiet night. We watched a movie and as we were nearly finished the wind kicked in and all of a sudden boats were swinging in all directions, the yacht closest to us swung one way and we swung the other and seeing this we were not happy to stay just in case one of the yachts broke free so in rain and dark we weighed anchor and headed back towards South Stradbroke Island and anchored near Currigee Camp as soon as we were settled we hit the sack and went to sleep.
Monday - 28/04/2014
We got up as usual first light and decided to head back towards Sovereign Island and instead of anchoring near Paradise Point to go north of the islands bridge and anchor there where we had noticed the day before there was only two boats.
This we did and dropped anchor and a little later 'Neriki' joined us and they came over and there was lots of hugs and shaking of hands, we have cruised with these people on a number of occasions and have not seen them for nearly two years.
Later Trevor brought his boat around to the same anchorage. We all had drinks and dinner on 'Neriki'  with each of the ladies preparing a dish and a good night we had.
(Nancy, Shelly and Gaye)
Tuesday - 29/04/2014
We went ashore for a water run to do washing later, I use containers of water for the washing machine as it is easier and faster. Then we went ashore to get a few things from the shop and then we set sail for Tipplers Passage, lovely spot in the week crazy on weekends. There were only two other yachts in the anchorage so plenty of room.
(Here we are anchored at Tipplers Passage a lovely spot in the week, weekends it gets a lit mad)
(Tipplers with great reflections)

We went ashore for a walk and see what has changed, they now have a restaurant/bar next to the store/office that is open weekends and public holidays where you can have breakfast/lunch/dinner which is good for the boating people. Not sure if it will continue through the winter months.
Wednesday - 30/04/2014
We did chores on the boat a few repairs but generally quiet times a little later in the morning 'Neriki' arrived so it was sundowners and dinner on our boat tonight.
It was a good night catching up with Shelly and Rick, they have done heaps of work to their boat and will be cruising north again this year.
Thursday - 01/05/2014
A quiet day going ashore for a walk over the island to the beach on the open sea side of the island, bit of a paddle in the water, still too cold for me to swim but there are also a lot of rips here so I would not chance it if it was warm.
(Roo by the sea)

(The ocean side of South Stradbroke Island )
(Nancy having a paddle)

(Tipplers Passage sunset)

It was dinner on 'Neriki' tonight and to say farewell again as we will be heading for Manly tomorrow, it was a good night and when we finish all the work on the boat we may catch up with them north.
Friday - 02/05/2014
We waited for the rain to ease before weighing anchor I watched the met site radar and as soon as it passed we headed off but we knew more was coming.
It was a motor day again in fact later the wind was going to be strong and right on the nose. We chose to go via Jacob's Well as I know the shallows had been dredged two years ago and being near low tide I did not want to chance Canaipa Passage, there is only a few hundred metres difference in distance between them to our destination.
(Along the way we saw this yacht that looks like it sunk some time ago, it is a fact that more boats sink in marinas and on moorings than at sea due to neglect)

The rain did come causing poor visibility and as Murphy's Law does it happened at the most hazardous area near the narrow passages where we have to negotiate ferries and barges and yes there was one of each.
Once through the shallow passages and into Moreton Bay proper we then had the wind increase to 25 knots on the nose, are they trying to discourage us from finishing this journey. You know I know it is a concern of many people that if they come to grief it is usually when they are close to home, this can be in any form of transport. The trick is don't relax until you get back, always treat the areas as unknown because things do change.
(A little rain to welcome us)
We finally reached Manly and went to the allocated berth at Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club Marina where Andy and Cath off 'Paws' was there to take our lines and they organised a get together  the club for dinner.
So our circumnavigation of this fine country was completed after 2 years and 6 days and 10,310 nautical miles travelled. I suppose this is an achievement but really many sailors have done it, yes I do feel that I have achieved something of a challenge but I have to take my hat off to the earlier sailors that did it without the aid of GPS, regular weather reports, internet and HF radio that provide these things to us today. The big thing today is knowing how to use the technology that is provided but at the same time to know what to do if it fails or know when it is wrong and electronic charts are not always accurate. We still use paper charts as well as electronic and I recommend that people should do the same because when the chart plotter fails or are wrong you need to know what to do.
I would like also to thank all those that helped and supported us on this great voyage, I have mentioned in past notes the kindness that was shown to us.
I don't like putting names down just in case I miss one and that would be disastrous but I am going to give it a go and if I do miss anyone my humble apologies
Mark and Susan who looked after our mail sending it to us or scanning it and emailing it.
Colleen our official communications officer, Colleen was the contact who kept up to date where we were and what we were up to in case of emergency.
Alison and Rob in Darwin not only helped us get in and out of the lock in the marina but welcomed us into their home and gave us a very special Christmas with their family.
Ted and Desley  also Darwin making us very welcome looking after me whilst Nancy was away, loved that roast duck and the assistance Ted gave with electrics.
Brendan in Broome that not only run us everywhere to get the anchor winch motor fixed but got on the lathe and machined it for us and his lovely friend Jodi that invited us into her home for dinner and  transported us.
Stephen  that allowed us to use his mooring in Broome which was very helpful when our anchor winch was down.
Jim of Fremantle Sailing Club who invited us to his home for dinner with other of his yachtie friends and made us welcome.
Lorraine also in Perth that organised a welcoming for us of the (SICYC) Shaggers and a good afternoon it was.
The Fremantle Sailing Club Marina that made us very welcome and have the most realistic marina fees as like Tasmania. (Here we had first 3 nights free and $35 per night there after)
Gavin and Rae at Bunbury, Rae from marine radio organised Gavin to assist us late at night to do a fuel run and whilst he was at it he gave us a full night guided tour of Bunbury.
Mark of Southern Ocean Sailing School, Albany, who helped us get into the marina did shopping and fuel runs for us and was willing to help where he could.
Ingrid and Geoff of Albany also SICYC, welcomed us into their home and gave us the full guided tour of Albany.
Kevin at Esperance, who just offered up his vehicle for us to go shopping and do fuel runs and he and friend Zero gave us lots of local knowledge of anchorages prior to crossing the Bight.
Max Port Lincoln , offered us a lift to get our gas bottles filled and also gave us a full guided tour of the city.
Carol Kangaroo Island, marine radio operator that looks after all the boats and picked us up took us to their community hall for dinner gave us her vehicle the next day to look around and do fuel and shopping runs.
Leigh, John, Mark and Bert Cape Jaffa, good friend Leigh organised free marina berths for us and left s his car to use whilst we were there. John who owned the marina berths that allowed us to use them free of cost, Mark and Jackie who loaned us their larger vehicle for the entire time we were at Cape Jaffa and Bert and Janet, who from the first day we arrived offered to help in anyway he could and they also welcomed us to their home for dinner.
Ron and Dave Beauty Point Marina, two great blokes, they run the marina voluntary and are willing to help wherever they can and they were very good to us.
Glen, Nigel and families, what can I say about these blokes and their families, they all made us welcome in their homes and had a great Christmas with them, supplied a vehicle for the entire time we were there to go out and see Tassie. Beautiful friends.
Wayne and Anne at Devonport, although friends from way back they run us and other yachties around to get what we needed such as fuel runs.
Jim at Stanley, Jim is a special person, he allowed us to use his fishing boat berths when the seas got serious, you are a gentleman and I say that not because what you did but what you have done in the past and what you have suffered. Cheers Jim.
Frank and June Hobart, also very long time friends but did lots to help us and take us around.
John and Kim Sydney, also good friends but were there for us to do shopping and they took us to lunch and dinner and their home they are special friends to.
Barbara and Jim Port Stephens, the lovely American couple that are also yachties and welcome stray yachties to their home for dinner.
Gary and Janice Iluka, these people made us welcome to their town and looked after us on Anzac Day.
Finally I would like to thank the love of my life Nancy for doing all she does aboard and never complains.
Some that I mentioned are long time friends but I wanted to say thanks to them to. But it is special those that we had never met before and what they did for us which goes to show the Australian Spirit still lives. Thanks to all of you that made our trip very special, and I hope I have not missed a soul.
(Alana Rose now back in Manly she has done us very well over the past seven years)


Port Macquarie and Iluka

Port Macquarie

 Thursday - 10/04/2014
(Sunrise with storm clouds)

(Strange thing to see from the sea camels along the beach)

The seas were nearly flat and little wind as we headed to Port Macquarie, we arrived at Port Macquarie at midday and I was very pleased to see new leads to enter the port. My first time entering this port some years ago I did what I normally do when entering a port for the first time and that is to stand off the entrance and check the leads. The first time here I did this the leads were hard to see but I eventually spotted them a very dull orange set of triangles, once found I checked that they line up with what the chart plotter indicates as the leads and was pleased that they both line up so all I had to do was follow the leads on my chart plotter and occasionally check  the leads proper. As we were doing this we had notified VMR of our arrival and they were eying us coming in and radioed asking us to go further north and recheck the leads. I explained that we were on the leads and the reply was that he understood that but with the conditions it is better to enter from a little further north. After entering we found that the leads had been in the wrong place for more than seven years because the sand bar had shifted. The problem was that the leads could not be relocated because to put the back triangle lead in place they would have to cut down some Norfolk Pine that are heritage listed. My comment was why don't they put in a Tri-light lead, this could be mounted on the area of the front triangle lead, naturally in the correct location and there would be no need for a back lead. Tri-light leads as I call them is a light mounted on a post that has red, white and green light, if you are in the correct position to enter you have the white light showing, if you are too far to port a red light shows and too far starboard the green light shows. Well in the last two years since our last visit that is what they have done.
The other sad part is that the volunteers of VMR could not say back then that the leads are in the wrong place because of our litigated country. The other factor is that many boaties do not communicate with VMR or Coastguard so they would not have any assistance and if they had entered the port using the old leads they would come to grief as one motorboat did some years ago which I believe went to court and maybe that is the reason for the new leads.
Port Macquarie has quite a small marina and some moorings however, there was no room for us so we had to anchor so we went passed the moorings and dropped the anchor, we called into the marina and asked to use their dinghy dock which cost $20 for the week, they have showers available and we did top up water containers each time we went ashore.
(Port Macquarie marina)
We are looking forward to catching up with family here which will be tomorrow after we are rested, I have one daughter living here and one about to move here.
Friday - 11/04/2014 through to Saturday 19/04/2014
We had a great week in Port Macquarie with family having many dinners at Melinda and Steve's, they have done wonders with the house that they bought here and young Sam has grown so much since we last saw him. Also had granddaughter Tarryn there she had to go back to Dubbo for a while but returned with her mother Cherie so it was great catching up with them. Cherie and Tarryn are moving to Port Macquarie permanently and was in the throes of moving gear here.
 (My girls, Cherie, daughter Tarryn and Melinda)
(Nancy, Marita and Jeff)
(The dock near the green)
(Nancy and I having a drink on the waterfront)

(Lone pelican)
(The moorings and anchorage near the marina)
(A little out the water at a very low tide)
(Surfers near the break wall at the town beach)

We also caught up with Nancy's nephew Jeff and his wife Marita, it was good seeing them again we have not seen them since Jeff had his motorcycle accident where a bloke ran a red light and hit him, he nearly lost his leg but due to his determination he refused to let them take it and he is doing great although the leg will never be the same as before.
We also met some new friends through Nancy's website of women sailing and had a good night with a number of boaties at the marina with a seafood night.
After a great week the seas had subsided to a level where we could cross the bar at Yamba so Sunday we left Port Macquarie with Steve and Sam waving us on from the break wall. We had decided to bypass Coffs Harbour and sail overnight to Iluka as north winds were going to move in again and we preferred to wait it out at Iluka rather than Coffs Harbour.
(Grandson Sam waving goodbye and Steve taking a photo as we head out)

Yamba/ Iluka

(Sunset as we sail north nearing Coffs Harbour)

Monday- 21/04/2014. One of the main problems of the NSW coastline is that most places have sand bars to cross to enter the ports and some are worse than others, we have crossed them before when seas are up and it is no fun so these days we prefer to wait the time out to get a good crossing. The unfortunate part of this is if there have been very high wind conditions this brings the seas well up and it takes a few days for the seas to go down  afterwards which usually means that we miss the good sailing winds that follow the high winds and when the seas have settled there is little wind at all.
This was the case for this run we had some wind but at times had none at all.
Again we hugged the coast to ensure we did not get into the East Coast Current, it was close to land as we left Port Macquarie you could see the ripples at the edges, at one stage we had to cross a section of it for just a few metres and we went from 6 knots back 2.9 knots. It was also visual close to Smoky Cape and along the coast to Trial Bay.

We passed Coffs Harbour around 2200 hours and had a pleasant night at sea arriving at Yamba crossing at 1100 hours, the bar was very calm and easy to enter. It was just on low tide when we entered and after entering decided to anchor at Iluka rather than Yamba these towns being on opposite sides of the Clarence River. The choice of Iluka was due to the forthcoming winds from the north.
(Still sailing north as the sun rises)

(Yamba Bar, nice and calm)

Entering Iluka Harbour is always interesting especially as it is just after low tide, I followed a track I had previously taken and although I did this I did run out of depth, however, the bottom must be silt as we still glided through it to deeper water and dropped anchor.
After anchoring we decided to go ashore and have lunch at the pub and the meal was great. We also talked to some locals and visitors and one couple that was holidaying said that her father had had his first beer in this pub when he was sixteen, he has just turned ninety three. So the pubs been here a while.
23/04/2014 to 25/04/2014
Wednesday - 23rd
We went ashore and caught up with  a friend from Dubbo days, Robert used to work with Nancy as a fitness instructor and is now a Police Officer at Iluka, it is always good catching up with friends that we have not seen for a while. We then went for a walk around Iluka had coffee and found out where the Anzac Day march and dawn service is held for Anzac Day.
Talked to a few locals and got talking to a couple that have a motor home so we had lots of questions as we think that will be our next venture, and we thank them for their candid comments that will be very helpful.
 (Images of Iluka Harbour)

Thursday - 24th
We went a walk ashore and went to the Fish Co-op for fish and chip lunch, but did not do much else.
(A memorial to a friend of Iluka near the fishermans harbour, there are a number of memorials along the waterfront)
Friday - 25th - Anzac Day   Lest We Forget
Up very early to get to the dawn service and when we arrived there was quite a gathering for a small town like this. After the service we went and had breakfast at the memorial hall but we did not go for the rum like some although it is a tradition I wanted to last the day.
(Gary and myself just after we first met)
(This is what Anzac Day is about remembering those that did not come back but also sharing each others experiences and talking to mates old and new that have things in common)

(The small group of vets march followed by the school children)

We went back on board for a while then I organised us to get ashore for the Anzac March and did very well being an hour early. However, not all lost we sat and talked to some of the locals, we sat in the shade until it was near time for the march and when we went to the muster point I met Gary also an ex-sailor and from there Gary and his lovely wife Janice looked after us. After the march and service they gave us a lift to the luncheon at the Bowling Club where we were also joined by friend Robert and wife  Karen so a good afternoon was had. It was a fun afternoon meeting other locals and visitors alike.
(Karen, Nancy and Robert)
Leaving the club we said goodbye to friends and returned on board.
Tomorrow we leave for the Seaway at the Gold Coast with another overnight sail.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Port Stephens

Saturday - 05/04/2014
We had to wait for some tide to cross the Swansea Bar so we let go of the mooring by Swansea Bridge at 0800 hours and motored out to the bar crossing as we got onto the first set of leads a small motor boat passed us then  at a crucial moment on the turn of one lead to the other the motor boat stopped and was drifting into our path. I got the air horn and gave a blast. They had pulled up right in front of us because they realised they did not have their life jackets on, it is law that you have to have these on when crossing the bar.
The bar itself was very tame with just a little swell, once clear of the bar we hoisted the sails although the day was another motor sail type of day, the wind came and went on a regular basis. We stayed close to shore in about the 26 metre depth so that we did not meet the East Coast Current  which runs north to south at a rate of around 4 knots.
We arrived at Port Stephens at 1510 hours and picked up a public mooring near the marina at Nelson's Bay. There is a public dock in the marina complex that can take about four boats and you can stay there for 3 days free of charge, however, we went ashore after learning about it some days later and our cat is too wide to fit between the poles at the dock.
There are three public mooring s in this location the only disadvantage of these are that there is quite a bit of wash from the boats coming and going out of the marina, the marina complex has a number of shops and cafes.
(Storm clouds passing by Nelsons Bay)

(Fire in sky)
(Two good reds)

Sunday - 06/04/2014
The public moorings have a 24 hour limit although at the moment there is not a high demand for them but we decided to do the right thing and move to another location so we headed to Salamander Bay and found that the single public mooring  was not being used so we picked that up it up for the day. We had made contact with good friends Cath and Tim Deverell,  Cath worked with me in the NSWRFS many years ago now and the last time we saw them is when their  youngest son was 2 years old. Cath picked us up and we headed off to lunch with her family. It was great catching up with them both. After a long lunch Cath took us to the shops so we could pick up a few things.
Monday - 07/04/2014
We had contact with another couple of friends Don and Carol Luscombe and made arrangements to meet them for coffee at Nelsons Bay. We dropped the mooring and headed back to Nelsons Bay and picked up a mooring again. We went ashore and met Don and Carol, Don is a very prominent volunteer member of the NSWRFS and has done a lot for the fire service. It was good catching up and having a chat. After parting we headed back to the boat and as we were in the dinghy we noticed 'San Sousi' anchored close by so we went over to say g'day and told them we were about to leave the mooring if they wanted it. we got back aboard and  let go the mooring to go back to Salamander Bay where we had been invited to dinner by Barbara and Jim a couple of Americans that work here and are sailors themselves and have a yacht in the marina. We were in luck again as the single mooring was vacant so we picked it up again.
Around 1630 hours we headed ashore to meet Barbara who has a beachside unit in the bay. Barbara and Jim often invite cruising yachties to dinner if they hear of them in the bay, Barbara works in the VMR so working the radio she knows what yachts are visiting. What a wonderful gesture.
We had a very good night and dinner with Barbara, Jim and granddaughter Ali. When leaving they waded in the water to assist us getting the dinghy back in the water. Lovely people.
(Nelson Bay marina complex, public docks on the right)
(Salamander Bay from Barbara and Jim's unit)
(Barbara, Nancy and Jim)

Tuesday - 08/04/2014
We dropped the mooring and motored over to Fame Cove a wonderful little sheltered cove that has five public moorings. The fact that we like the moorings here is that there is a lot of sea grass and you can be fined if you anchor in the sea grass.
We spent a quiet day at this cove, we did attempt to dinghy up the creek but it runs out of depth in a short distance.
(Looking out of Fame Cove)

Wednesday - 09/04/2014
We headed for  Shoal Bay which is the closest bay to the port entrance, Shoal Bay has four public moorings and again most were free so we picked one up secured the boat and went ashore for a walk and lunch.
Our intention was to leave late afternoon and sail through the night to Port Macquarie. When we returned on board I went for a nanna nap to get some rest before leaving.
(Pelican on an early flight)
(Shoal Bay)

We ended up sailing out at 1600 hours taking the line through the southern side of the sand bar, it was another case of motor sailing with little wind as we passed Broughton Island I noticed a yacht that had left some four or more hours before us tacking using the light winds, a lot of work for a short distance, our boat is too big and heavy to tack in such light winds. The other factor is that we have a very short weather window before the northerlies start to blow again.

The seas were quite good and it was not really cold during the night it was quite a pleasant night sail.