The inside story on what its really like to cruise the east coast of Australia.

22 June 2008 | Airlie Beach
20 June 2008 | 'Hammo'
19 June 2008 | Hammilton Island
17 June 2008 | Mackay
16 June 2008 | Curlew Island
15 June 2008 | Middle Percy Island
14 June 2008 | Townshend Island
13 June 2008 | Pearl Bay
12 June 2008 | Yeppoon
11 June 2008 | Cape Capricorn
06 June 2008 | Bundaberg
05 June 2008 | Hervey Bay
31 May 2008 | Mooloolabah
27 May 2008 | At Mooloolaba
26 May 2008 | Tangalooma
24 May 2008 | Sanctuary Cove
15 May 2008 | Hope Harbour Marina
12 May 2008 | Ballina
02 May 2008 | Port Macquarie

Coffs Harbour to Ballina

12 May 2008 | Ballina
Mild - warm at last
Rob working hard in difficult conditions

After a week back in Sydney we returned to Coffs Harbour to continue the passage north. Weather looks good - the southerlies continuing and slightly warmer. Lyn decided to sit this leg out as a cold she caught before leaving Sydney didn't improve after 4 days at sea, so she is saving herself for Queensland legs which promise tropical-ness.

Joining me are Rob and Peter. Rob sails Etchells with me at Cronulla Sailing Club, is an engineer and owns a number of boats including an Etchells, a Halvorsen and a steel 'Temptress' class yacht currently undergoing restoration. Peter is Qantas Flight Engineer, a die-hard catamaran sailor, the owner of a Seawind 1200 and from what I can gather a number of smaller cats he sails out of Kurnell cat club. Within nanoseconds of coming on board he had the tools out and was servicing the motors, teaching me the ins and outs of marine diesel maintenance. I knew that after a few days with Peter my knowledge of diesel engines would go from zero to something meaningful. Buying a production catamaran means we treat the engines as something you have to use to get on and off moorings, or to use when the wind dies. I hadn't really thought of the engines as things that could break down - after all they were new! We couldn't believe checking before we left Coffs that after only 80 hrs of operation there was virtually no oil registering on the dipsticks! Ah, even a technical luddite like me knows this is not good. We bought 5 litres oil and each engine was topped up. Peter suggested it was normal for new engines to burn more oil when new, so hopefully things will get better.

We headed for Yamba. The sleigh ride we were experiencing before we reached Coffs Harbour continued, sunny skies, the winds now warmer and blowing 15-18 knots from behind and the boat surfing gracefully at 7-9 knots - just wonderful. After a fairly routine passage so far we had our first excitement at Yamba. Coming in on high tide was easy, leaving the next morning bought us back to earth. We were heading towards the entrance 'the bar' , we noticed some waves coming towards us, not big enough to worry about, but a little strange we thought. As we got closer to the bar, things turned nasty. In the space of a minute we were caught in a strong outgoing tidal surge (where did that come from?) with a meeting of incoming waves. We floored the engines hoping to crash through what was developing. In no time the bows had started heading downwards just as a few waves built into a verticle wall in front of us. Peter, yells 'Hang on we're going to get wet !' (I've removed a few four letter descriptive words here). Next thing we had a massive wall of water 'scooped up' by the bows, over the cabin, and sliding across the top of the boat drenching all in its path. The boat submarined under this wall of water, then reared up and crashed down into the next valley. '**** , where did that come from?' , we all say whilst looking like drowned rats. A few more crashes and we are through. Outside we look back at the bar. All looks calm, a fishing trawler goes in , no fuss. Surreal.

This was our introduction to bar crossings. We had heard the stories about bar crossings, now we had first hand experience.

After we each changed our underpants, we turned north and set the sails. Then it was a dream run for the day, with Rob lying on the foredeck reading educational novels, and even Peter relaxing all the way ( though he did spend a fair bit of time inside reading all of the Seawind manuals). We charge north at 8 knots in a 16 knot south easterly. What we didn't know was that after our early bar experience we were in for more 'bar' experiences.

The Ballina bar has a more savage reputation than just about any bar in NSW. However we were due for dinner at a friends place (Steve), and Peter's sister Brenda lives in Ballina , no bar was going to stop us getting there. As we approached we noticed some breaking waves, but nothing too dramatic. I had asked Steve to video our entrance, and he stood on the sea wall to film Amandon's spectacular entrance. All the action is at the beginning of this video, and as we steering down the first big wave , I forgot to look at the speedo to see what we were doing (damn, I'm sure it was a record), however we are truly surfing the waves, and fighting the helm to keep us steering down the face of the wave and away from the sea walls. - (Only expert helmsmanship and a cool head stopped us from certain disaster) . {click here} to see Andamon surfing the waves at Ballina At the end of this we decided that bar crossing was definitely a very critical component of passage making in NSW.

At the marina we met Peter's sister, Brenda, who is 60+ years old, surfs every day on a 3 fin thruster, and with such a positive outlook on life, was easily the most impressive woman I've met in a long time. We had a wonderful night eating Lasagna at Steves place whilst recounting about a 100 times our now legendary bar crossings where the waves were now 25 feet high, (higher with each glass of red) it became just one of those magical days which had many elements all mixed together.
Vessel Name: Andamon
Vessel Make/Model: Seawind 1160
Hailing Port: Cronulla, NSW, Australia
Crew: Jon and Lyn
This is a story about two really nice people who are heading north for the Australian winter. Jon has a background in IT and specialises in talking about sailing stuff to sailing friends. [...]
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Andamon's Photos -


Who: Jon and Lyn
Port: Cronulla, NSW, Australia