Saturday, 20 December 2014

Anticipation of Arrival

The stunted trips down the NSW coast have been uncomfortable, inhospitable and down-right unenjoyable. To have sailed 13,000nm and the final legs to Sydney from Queensland be some of the most uninspiring had left us feeling somewhat deflated. It is not the homecoming one would paint for themselves!

The jump from the Gold Coast to Coffs Harbour was filled with thunderstorms, strong winds and then, no winds. We were penned in at Coffs for 5 days while a low passed east, lashing the shore with 45kt winds and 5m seas consistently for 3 days. The 10m breakwall was regularly breached with enormous pounding waves and the torrents of rain left one commenting on the 'good weather for ducks'. The only excited community members were the surfers who had no regard for their personal safety, just catching the best wave. Interestingly, due to the high winds the boat had enough heel on it in the marina that Hugh could stand up inside the cabin (he is usually about 20cm too tall to do that!).

Dramatic cloud formations forewarn of the incoming storm at Coffs Harbour

Finally the weather looked good for a leg to Port Stephens, until we were underway and some strong winds were predicted to arrive on the nose and stop us in our path 25nm short of our destination. We cut our journey by 50nm and decided on Forster-Tuncurry as our safe haven for two days while the system passed through. With 35kt winds pushing us south, we sailed the hair raising entry over the Forster bar, riding the 2m waves in. Waves crashed over the breakwall and flung salt spray 10m into the air, it sure was exciting! Next came the challenge of anchoring in a super shallow and tight channel, hemmed in by a rockwall on one side and a sandbar on the other with 3kts of current directing our steering. While Tuncurry is a quaint little town with some delicious fresh fish from the co-op, it sure was a rubbish anchorage and we were keen to leave after suffering two nights of wind on tide and too many close encounters with the shallow bar as we did the 'La Paz waltz' with the boat swinging between the wind and the tidal pull.

We had the window, finally a day-hop to Port Stephens. The wind was evasive to start with, though came along for the ride about 15nm into the journey. The wind was predicted to rise throughout the day, so we were keen for an arrival in the afternoon at Nelson Bay. Not that it really mattered in terms of visibility, the convection layer was so low we could not see more than half a mile in front of the boat, it was like sailing through a cloud. Just as the wind tipped at 30kts, we rounded the corner to enter the harbour and it was all pleasant again. Enclosed waters are bliss! Picking up an RMS mooring at Chinamans Beach (good to see our rego dollars at work!) we relaxed ahead of the predicted 35kt winds for the next morning.

Two days of R & R and the weather looked like it would give us another chance at heading south. A closer review of the weather predictions has rarely been made, it is only 110nm until we will grace the Sydney shores with our presence! We were not sure where we would end up with the boat and if we would in fact make the final 20nm hop from the safe waters of Pittwater to Sydney Harbour. But all that aside, we have the right wind (not on the nose!) and an acceptable strength (not 40 knots!) so it looks like we will make the final hop to Sydney before Christmas, as we had hoped 9 months ago when nutting out this route home. You could almost measure our excitement and the anticipation for completing our journey!

Check out these excited sailors as they left Sydney in April 2013,
little did they know what was ahead of them!

13,000nm and we are coming home!

Categories: ,


Post a Comment