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.


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