First Light adventures

21 July 2017 | Newcastle
17 July 2017 | Off Pt Stephens
14 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia from Noumea
13 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia from Noumea
12 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia from Noumea
10 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia
10 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia
09 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia
08 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia
06 July 2017 | Noumea
03 July 2017 | Port Moselle Noumea
27 June 2017 | Noumea
25 June 2017 | Enroute from Fiji to Noumea
24 June 2017 | Enroute from Fiji to Noumea
23 June 2017 | Enroute from Fiji to Noumea
21 June 2017 | Vuda marina Fiji
15 June 2017 | Fiji
15 June 2017 | Fiji
13 June 2017 | South Pacific ocean
12 June 2017 | South Pacific ocean

Vibrant Newcastle

21 July 2017 | Newcastle
View of the Newcastle waterfront from the marina.

We have had five days here in Newcastle, long enough to become familiar with this vibrant city and catch up with sailing friends. There has been steady progress since the big earthquake here in 1989 to rebuild and revitalize the city. I would have to say it has been a resounding success, There are modern buildings tastefully interspersed with old ones. The character of the old city center remains, but along the waterfront that not so long ago was an industrial wasteland there are now low rise apartments with parks, restaurants and cyclepaths. The yacht club is a show piece with excellent facilities.

We have had the usual jobs to do, but nothing major. Tomorrow we get an early start and continue our journey southwards with a reasonable weather forecast. We would like to make Eden but the weather window may not allow that so we will probably stop off in Jervis bay for a night or two, then continue on. With all the sailing behind us you would think we could relax a bit now that we are nearing the finish line at Lakes Entrance, but nothing could be further from the truth. The last 100nm from Eden to Lakes Entrance and the bar crossing at Lakes Entrance are a significant hurdle still in front of us. In fact I will not relax a bit until the last 100 metres through the entrance is behind me, but after that it will be time to party!

Heading South

17 July 2017 | Off Pt Stephens
After a couple of welcome days break in Coffs Harbour where Damien's son Nick and a friend came to visit us, we set sail again. Our destination this time is Newcastle 183nm south down the NSW coast. We departed last night and now at 1700 we are off Port Stephens with 22nm to go to Newcastle. The east coast current carried us along sometimes at 2 knots, but the winds were light and for most of today we have had to motor to make progress. There have been reports of many whale sightings on the east coast and while in Coffs Harbour the tourist boats were busy taking people offshore to see the whales. We just sighted a couple of whales directly in front of us and changes course to avoid them. I hope they are aware of us coming as a collision would be bad for each of us.

I came on watch early this morning and Damien was clad in most of the clothes he had onboard plus wet weather gear and beanie. The temperature has dropped dramatically over the last few weeks. It wasn't that long ago that all we wore onboard was a pair of shorts or sometimes only jocks. Just the thought of wearing anything more would raise a sweat or could trigger a meltdown. I have dug deep into my locker to find thermals that were last worn in 2008 when we sailed from Melbourne to Paynesville in July.

It looks like the next opportunity to go south is on Saturday, so a few days in Newcastle to catch up with sailing friends.

Arrived Coffs Horbour

14 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia from Noumea
We motor sailed all night in very light conditions gradually ticking off the miles to Coffs harbour. We had a deadline to meet as I had given Border Force my ETA as mid morning and no later than 1500 in the afternoon, so we had to keep moving. We started to see more shipping as we neared the coast and we started to feel the effect of the Australian east coast current pushing us sideways off course. This current flows strongly down the east coast of Australia it is a continuation of the South Equatorial current that flows east to west just below the equator. This is the current that carried us along when we sailed from the Galapagos islands through all the islands of the South Pacific right up to New Caledonia. But on this passage we were influenced by eddies in the Australian east coast current that were mostly against us and slowed us down.

But despite currents we made it into Coffs sailing the last 30nm and arriving right on schedule. After contacting the marina we were allocated a berth and Border Force were notified that we had arrived. Within minutes of tying up a friendly Border Force official greeted us and the formalities of entering Australia by yacht commenced. It all went very smoothly and there were no surprises. Our remaining fresh produce was confiscated as we anticipated and the official took our rubbish off. The one official performed the roles of Customs, Immigration and Bio Security. Now that's efficient in contrast to the six officials that boarded us in the Galapagos.

We are here till Sunday when the weather looks suitable to head off to Newcastle.

No blog tomorrow or Sunday. Enjoy your weekend we certainly will!

Day 6

13 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia from Noumea
We are 107nm away from Coffs, this is our final night at sea on this passage. I notified Border Force of our intended arrival before we departed Noumea as it is compulsory to give then at least 96hrs warning and I have updated them along the way of our progress and ETA, so hopefully we are all friends and the entry formalities tomorrow go off without a hitch. In the recent past the Australian authorities checking in yachts have had a very bad reputation, so much so that incredibly many yachts sailed past Australia. I have read recent glowing reports from yachts entering Australia about the good treatment from the authorities...we'll see tomorrow. Perhaps Tony Abbott has not only given them a new name but has made them more friendly??

After the cold front went through, we enjoyed 24hrs of good sailing, but today it came to an end as the winds moderated and started turning more easterly. Around midday the wind had dropped off so much that we were only sailing at 4 knots. At that rate we were never going to make Coffs on Friday, so the engine was started and 6 hrs later we are still motoring along and the wind has dropped further. The good news is that we are on schedule to make our ETA tomorrow and hopefully will get some wind assistance along the way.

Day 5

12 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia from Noumea
I am writing this blog on a 45 degree angle as we charge along in 15 to 20 knot winds just forward of the beam. The seas are making life below a bit challenging and uncomfortable, but we are managing fine, just not the best day in this office!

Yesterday afternoon, after days of light winds we looked ahead on the horizon to see a line of very dark clouds heralding the change and some wind...plenty of it apparently. We sorted out the third reef in the mainsail so it was ready for action and waited, and waited. We had some squalls and rain early evening, but then the wind dropped below 10 knots and of course with heavily reefed sails we were not sailing anywhere in 10 knots, so on with the engine and wait. After a very frustrating midnight to three watch where I made multiple sail changes to try and keep the boat moving towards Australia the wind finally came. What is it about my midnight to three watch?? Damien came on watch and didn't have to touch a thing.. There is more of the same tonight then the wind starts to clock around to the SE, E then NE in preparation for another front due Saturday night. We expect to be tucked in the marina at Coffs harbour by then. Our mission is to arrive in Coffs harbour in business hours on Friday and avoid overtime payments for Customs and Immigration.

Day 4 of passage noumea to Coffs harbour

10 July 2017 | Enroute to Australia
We are motoring again due to light winds. It has been the slowest passage we have done for a long time, but it is all about to change according to Bruce our meteorologist. The sky is darkening to the southwest and the barometer has started to drop! Tonight we expect heavy rain, squalls and strong winds from the SW as a change blows through. The wind will remain strong for tomorrow and the next day and tend SE so the angle will be good for us to head straight to Coffs harbour with good speed.

We have already put the third reef in place on the mainsail and the small staysail is ready to haul up when required without going forward. Everything is snugged down, we are just waiting for it now.
Vessel Name: First Light III
Vessel Make/Model: Adams 12
Hailing Port: Melbourne Australia
Crew: Bernie
About: Bernie is passionate about sailing and finally living his dream to cruise long term. Dianne is First Mate and looking forward to many adventures along the way.
First Light III was fitted out and equipped by Bernie and launched in 2004. She is a fractional rigged cutter with a good turn of speed. Specification: Length 12 m. Beam 4m. Draught 2.2m Displacement 7500Kg Engine Yanmar 39HP Saildrive HF radio with email capability High capacity ECH2O [...]
First Light III's Photos - Main
Photos from NC and Vanuatu
1 Photo
Created 15 June 2009
No Photos
Created 14 May 2009

First Light 111 Adventures

Who: Bernie
Port: Melbourne Australia