Monday, May 5, 2014

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.


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