Homeward Bound

Monday January 6

We took the ebb tide down river then the Canapia Passage through the Broadwater for the first time and managed not to run aground. The power lines caused their usual anxiety but there is plenty of clearance for our 21.5m air draft either side of the middle. We ran into the tide at Jumpinpin so anchored for the night.

Next day we anchored off Paradise Point, in company of this replica Portuguese Caravel and we were once again blown away by some of the massive houses.

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A few days here for the BBQ to be picked up and modified so it doesn’t blow out all the time. We also enjoyed an evening on board with Roger and Louise from Lightwave. They have some new projects going on and even after nearly 25 years are still passionate about their catamaran building.

We wandered up to Bum’s Bay but found it packed solid with boats. Topped up with fuel and water at Southport Yachtclub. Spent a night at Bum’s Bay so Lea could do Parkrun but I wasn’t game to leave the boat as everyone was packed in so close.

Sunday January 12

Headed up the Coomera River and met Dale and Juenesse and their two daughters Willow and Hazel off Lightwave 38 Muscat 7. Interesting discussion about the timing and weather during their recent trip to NZ.

Monday January 13

Took our berth at Boatworks Marina and hit the ground running. We had a courtesy car for 3 hours to pick up our repaired Saloon flyscreen, our BBQ, our new ropes from IRB and drop in on Swift Inflatables to discuss regluing the bump strip on our Dinghy. Very impressive set up at the marina.

Next morning we spent some time discussing replacing our decking with Esthec at Ocean Degree. Very expensive but seems the best by far. We had checked out the Flexiteek deck on Lightwave 45 Captain Jack while in Southport. It is now a year old and quite faded in places, where its in the sun. Have to save our pennies.

Then it was back down the river with the tide to prepare for the next leg.

Thursday January 16

The Seaway was lumpy and uncomfortable and the sea state outside not much better. We had a 1 – 1.5m Easterly swell with a 6-10 knot NE breeze. Motors were soon off but the banging and jagging of the boom soon inspired us to drop it and hoist the kite. Even this was uncomfortable as we surfed a wave the spinnaker collapsed then reinflated with a bang. At least the East Australia Current was helping, pushing hard, although it didn’t help keep the apparent wind up and the spinnaker flying .

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Some dolphins joined us and eventually, the wind picked up, all settled down and we enjoyed a spinnaker run until 2200 hours. The wind dropped out so we motored for 3 hours. A NW breeze came in and sailed peacefully through the night and into Port Macquarie. Long pants and jumpers pulled out for the first time.

The weather held us in Port Macquarie for some time so we filled the time with repairs, Parkrun and lots of walking.

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It was great to catch up with our old sailing friends Rob and Henma who have now sold their boat and reside in Port Macquarie.

Wednesday January 22

Left on a strong wind warning expecting a fast run down to Sydney but as usual the wind dropped out during the night. We passed through Sydney Heads

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at 10:00 and settled into Collins Bay. After a rest we pulled out the hookah and snorkel gear to give the hull a good scrub. The northerlies came in strong during the afternoon bringing with them lots of ash and grit.

Next morning the decks were filthy and Sydney is on strict water restrictions, so we gave them a saltwater wash. Coffee at Balmoral with Heather and Steve off Inforapenny2 (Lightwave 45 SP) then motored up the harbour to Iron Cove and a rendezvous and impromptu dinner with Greg and Janie.

Saturday January 25

Annual KFC day with Greg and Janie at their place

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Sunday January 26

Australia Day and the Harbour was packed. We picked up Greg and Janie, Wendy and Geoff and Mel and Luc at Balmain Jetty and cruised into the mayhem.

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A very pleasant day was had. We anchored near Shark Island to watch the events including the James Craig tall ship, fighter plane and helicopter fly byes, 21 gun salute, ferry races, paratroopers and enjoyed a fabulous lunch. With a Southerly buster approaching we dropped our guests back at Balmain by 1600 and retreated to the quiet and shelter of Iron Cove.

Tuesday January 28

Time to move on again but weather not favourable. We moved to Birkenhead Marina for a 3 hour shopping berth. We rinsed the boat in fresh water and filled the tanks. Jim arrived and all stocked up we headed down the harbour. As we had time we stopped to check out the old Coal Loading Wharf. The displays were great and the walk around the headland fabulous.

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Then it was on under the bridge to Manly.

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After picking up a mooring at Manly we checked the weather forecast again and promptly moved around to Collins Bay. The Southerley piped in so we spent the next day walking all around Manly and the Shelly Beach Headland.

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Our favourite little Italian Restaurant had gone but we found a quirky little Thai place with great food.

Thursday Jan 30

We had the morning free as the wind still blew from the south. Right on time it swung to the North and we departed heading overnight to Bermagui. Another Strong Wind warning was current. A great spinnaker run to start with making good fast miles. It was Jim’s first time offshore and he was loving it.  We dropped the spinnaker before dark as the sunset was lost in a haze of smoke from the bushfires.

Again the wind was dropping out by 0230 and the motors were on by 0330. We could smell smoke now. By dawn the breeze was filling in again and Montague Island appeared out of the gloom.

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We considered sailing on to Eden but we knew we would be stuck for a few days as another Southerly gale came through so decided Bermagui was a better place to wait it out.

We arrived 1030 and rafted up to a friendly fishing boat as directed. The smoke haze was thick.

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An afternoon walk to the Blue Pool then dinner at the pub.

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Saturday February 1

Bermagui is on high fire danger alert. By mid afternoon the place was dark then turned orange due to the smoke

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It was very eerie and the light was amazing especially the band of bright white out on the ocean horizon.

Jim headed home on a bus to Merimbula then a flight to Melbourne, leaving us to twiddle our thumbs while the gales blew away the smoke. Lots of walking. An extra blanket on the bed now required

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40 – 50 knot Southerly winds at Gabo Island. We were not going anywhere. Great fish and chips from the Co-Op

Tuesday February 4

Le Max took the lull in the weather to motor down from Batemans Bay where they had been holed up. Nice to catch up with Brook, Jack and Mark and to have company for the leg to Lakes Entrance.

Wednesday February 5

Relaxed start waiting for some breeze. Motored for the first 2 hours then a great spinnaker run for 40 Nm. Ran into 14knots from the South at Green Cape and looked at options. Bittangabee Bay was our fall back but it looked to be on fire so we decided not to risk it. We pressed on under motor thinking we could anchor at Gabo but in the end we kept going and the wind eventually did turn to the ESE and decreased. It was a long jiggly motor through the night but better than it was before Gabo. A 3/4 moon helped. Temperature got down to 14 degrees which was a bit of a shock to the system.

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The smell of smoke was strong along the coast and it hung in the hills as we approached Lakes Entrance. Arriving at our seemingly usual time of 1030 we crossed the bar still flowing in 3 hours after high tide with Le Max not far behind.

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We’re home! For a little while at least.

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