Thursday, March 22, 2012

Riding a southerly front

The big challenge with cruising before retirement is to juggle the pressures of meteorology, and the pressures of social and work lives.

It is about 300 nautical miles from Port Stephens to the Gold Coast, and we usually average about 6 knots.

When the GRIB files showed a southerly front coming, the temptation was to jump aboard and ride it north.

Each big feather represents 10 knots, so this was a 25 knot tail-wind, with 3 metre seas. Exciting, bumpy, and fast!

 Arriving at Coffs Harbour

We then went to see our old friends Rog and Wendy and had a nice meal with them.

Next day we decided to take a rest day, and rented a car to explore the Bellingen and Dorrigo areas.

The Promised Land

On the Tuesday morning we checked the forecast (horrible, but still southerly), and went for a walk up on the headland to decide whether to brave another 24 hour run in big seas.

Lets do it!

Another fast sail, arriving at the Gold Coast Seaway just as dawn broke on Wednesday morning. Tired and happy. Average speed over 24 hours, 8.5 knots.

Port Stephens

We spent a few lovely days in Port Stephens, between Forster and Newcastle on the NSW coast.

We caught up with George's parents, and had a small cruise with them on osteoporosis-friendly waters.



We had some spanking sunny sails, and some peaceful anchorages in Fame Cove, and near Tea Gardens.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dolphins underwater

I've been having a bit of fun with my late GoPro camera, attached (not quite tightly enough) to a boat-hook, filming dolphins as they play around the bow. Have a look as some of these still frame grabs.

The GoPro is still filming Davy Jones locker as I write. :(

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Passage making

As I mentioned, we have been held up by southerlies, living a very relaxing life in Yamba. Now the weather window has opened up, and the other side of the cruising life appears. Passage-making.

The major current down the east coast is the EAC (East Australian Current). It changes, but satellite image of water temperature shows where it is (the orange bit), and how far out we must go to ride it.

Its always exciting preparing for a passage. Trying to work out the weather, tides, bars, and risks.

Yamba river the night before.

This shot of the chart-plotter shows us in the middle, with wind and current vectors, and four huge vessels bearing down on us. We have to dodge out of their way.

A Japanese container ship.


A Noddy tern hitching a ride.

Monday, March 12, 2012

NSW cruise

March is a time of unreliable weather. NSW is a place where lots of the entrances have bars. It is dangerous to cross a bar when the swell is large, and the tide is running against the wind. This means that one has to try to arrive at a bar in the last three hours of a rising tide, when the current is flowing in. Its also best to cross a bar in daylight.

In effect this gives us a window of 3 hours in 24 to arrive at a barred destination. Not always easy to do. Some entrances have deep water, and can be crossed at any time. They include Coffs Harbour, Port Stephens, Pitwater, and Sydney.

Over the weekend of March 3-4th, George had a gathering of women friends at Angourie, near Yamba. I sailed down with two of the husbands, to await the time when George could join me on Nimrod, and the others all drove home.

Since then, the wind has been stubbornly from the south, making further progress down the coast difficult. But Yamba, Iluca and Angourie are fabulous places to be holed up, and we have had a very relaxing time here. Lots of prawns, and mudcrabs. Plenty of walks.

Tomorrow we aim to catch a forecasted N-Easterly and duck out 50 miles to the East Australian Current and do an overnight trip down to Port Stephens.

Here are some recent photos.