Port Jackson/Sydney Harbour
22 January 2018
Port Jackson/Sydney Harbour 23/01/2018
We sailed into Port Jackson/Sydney harbour on 22/11/2017 after a nice 3.5hr motor sail from Broken Bay. Rather pleased with ourselves for having made it here after commencing our voyage from Darwin on July 2015, and Oh what a journey it has been. Many stories we have shared with you on the Blog other memories are with Gerd and I forever. From never being on a yacht before to taking on this adventure, it has been one hell of an amazing experience. Would I repeat it, Hell yeh, it’s been great, well most of the time. As I have shared on several occasion with you my struggle with motion sickness, to this day I still suffer from this. It is one of the most horrible symptoms to suffer from, honestly one just wants to curl up and die when taken down by this. However the good times have outweighed the not so good time, hence our journey to Sydney was completed.
At present we are exploring Sydney harbour, taking on the challenges of a very busy waterway with Ferries, Cruise ships, water planes, super yachts and motor boats, companion sailors and kayakers all making good use of the harbour. The on-would flow of this being continuous water movement until about 10pm when it all calms down for the night, restarting about 6am. As time has gone on we have become accustomed to the continuous motion.
The harbour itself offers several courtesy moorings which we make good use of, along with good holding ground for anchoring. However dinghy access to shore is very limited, for us coming from Darwin we have a 3m aluminium dinghy with a 9.8hp outboard, together being a considerable weight to drag up the shoreline on soft sand, and we aren’t getting any younger. When going ashore for the day we like to be able to lock it to a structure knowing when we return it’s more likely to still be there. This option is rarely available with very limited public piers to leave ones dinghy to.
We have based ourselves in Rose Bay as we can lock the dinghy up while going ashore and one has good access to public transport, bus and ferry services, along with good holding ground for anchoring. Other anchorages we have explored and enjoyed and often return to are Manly and Quarantine Bay. We have made good use of the shore line coastal walks to stretch the legs when and where ever possible.
We saw the New Year in while anchored among the hundreds of other boaties in the harbour. We arrived and anchored 2 days early so to secure a good spot by Taranga Zoo. This paid off as it was rather entertaining watching other boaties arrive over the next couple of days and try to squeeze in anchoring between boats. Overall we were happy with our anchor spot and our neighbours. We also had the lovely pleasure of having friends Narissa and Tina on board for the night to share the fantastic fireworks display from the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the New Year came about.
So with 2018 here, our plan is to stay a year in Sydney Harbour, get some work to top up our travel kitty and make plans for the future. These plans change on a monthly basis at present as my love hate relationship with cruising tries to rationalize itself.
04 December 2017
Broken Bay 5/12/2017
“Broken Bay gives access to four major waterways, those being Brisbane Waters, Pittwater, Cowan Creek and Hawkesbury River. We explored two of these waterways, Pittwater & Cowan Creek. Both of which have courtesy moorings which we made good use of.
Pittwater is a five mile long bay inlet, pockets of civilization exist with some bays full of moored boats making anchoring within them impossible. While we much prefer the quieter, less civilized bays when provision were required, these busier bay’s required visiting. Morning Bay and Coasters Retreat were the two bays we enjoyed while in Pittwater, both with courtesy moorings.
The weather was starting to warm up so swimming was enjoyed while in Broken Bay. Along with making good use of our kayak.
While in Nelson Bay/ Port Stephens we met a lovely couple Marc & Sharon who had sailed up from Pittwater. So when we were in Pittwater it was great to catch up with them again, with a lovely shore excursion to their place and a scrumptious dinner and overnight stay experienced. Thank you to you both for your hospitality.
After exploring Pittwater we moved onto Cowan Creek which is 7 miles long and runs through the beautiful Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. This National Park has Angophoras trees which show a great sense of survival by growing out of the soil, onto rocks, then straight up in search of sunlight. I find them just amazing. Cowan Creek was a beautiful place to explore with many serene nooks to tuck away on a public moorings and chill out. While moored in American Bay we caught up with friends Paul & Liz, great to catch up guys.
We spent 2.5 weeks exploring Broken Bay, could have spent longer there, however we were keen to get to Sydney, knowing if we stay in Sydney as planned for a year or so we can always revisit. So come 22 Nov we headed to Sydney Harbour.
Clarence River to Broken Bay
25 November 2017
Clarence River to Broken Bay
1/10/2017 Iluka Bay/Clarence River to Coffs Harbour, 60nm
(nautical miles)/16.5hrs - Julie Motion Sickness
8/10/2017 Coffs Harbour to Nelson Bay/Port Stephens,
154nm/27.5hrs - Julie Motion Sickness
24/10/2017 Port Stephens to New Castle, 37nm/10hrs
25/10/2017 New Castle to Eraring Bay/Lake Macquarie,
3/11/2017 Lake Macquarie to Broken Bay, 9hrs/40nm
Well, after spending days on the rather calm Clarence River my body didn't like being back on the ocean waters, I had 2 further repeated episodes of motion sickness, despite taking stugeron. Once again we had the talk about looking at different options and changing our adventures. Further talk to be had on this. Our goal is to reach Sydney and see this New Year in on the Harbour.
Our 5 Bar crossings all went to plan, with no issues crossing them. There was a lot of apprehension about our up and coming Bar crossing. As one always hears the daunting stories not to mention some picture we have seen. We always did our homework about the Bar, chose the right weather and tidal time for the crossing.
Cruising this time of year is not quite as enjoyable as summer time or in the Tropics. This is our first winter on-board as we have previously been further north in tropical climates. Wet, cold weather, confined space dampness, too cold for swimming, unable to dinghy ashore due to weather, Storms, strong winds, lightening, not to mention the hail storm we experienced, give me summer any day. Our winter clothing we brought in NZ has become our best friend over the winter months, with the NZ black woollen shearer's singlet ranking number one. We lived most winter days in our woollen singlets. At present we are in Broken Bay, the spring weather still bringing cold southerly winds.
This is where I apologise to my readers, as I'm experiencing writers block while writing this piece, so I'm going to end it here. I started this piece ages ago and kept thinking someday I'll be able to improve greatly on it, however it hasn't happened, so this is all you get. With the promise of improvement with my next write up. At present we are anchored in Blackwattle Bay/Sydney Harbour.
The Mighty Clarence River
05 October 2017
The Mighty Clarence River 6/10/2018
“One of the dominant features of the Clarence Valley region is the mighty Clarence River, a river of adventure. With 100 charted islands it is the second largest river in Australia with over 400km of pristine water from source to sea (Clarence sailing & cruising guide)”.
After a well rested night anchored in Iluka Bay/Clarence River, a plan was made. It was decided to motor up the river to Grafton and then on returning down the river we would stop off and anchor so as to explore the different townships along the way.
Our trip up to Grafton took a couple of days, hay, you can do it in a day but we were in no hurry so took our time. From Iluka we motored up to Harwood where we had booked the required lifting of the Harwood Bridge for us to go under as Kestrel’s height is 14m. The Harwood Bridge clearance above mean high water springs is 8.5m closed and 36.5m open. Booking requires 24hrs notice, we were lucking another yacht had booked the opening so this worked out good for us. We also had two cable ferry crossings to navigate and two overhead power cables to clear. This was all done with great precision by Captain Gerd.
Continuing upstream we first anchored at Brushgrove. On waking in the morning it was most spectacular as we were surrounded by fog. On clearing slowly, I got some great pictures (check out gallery). From here we motored up to Ulmarra, in which we docked on the pontoon and spent a night here. We met some friends Rick & Kate and had lunch at the pub. Great spot as it edged on the river bank of the Clarence.
After our night in Ulmarra we motored up to Grafton, this is as far upstream as we can go as the Grafton Bridge doesn’t lift. We spent several days here exploring the township, topping up our supplies of fresh produce, collecting mail and our usual visit to the local laundromat. We had a night on land with Rick and Kate, thank you both for your hospitality. From here we motored downstream to Ulmarra and spent a couple of night anchored and explored the small township with its galleries, antique, brick-a-brack shops, cafes and local pub. It has the best second hand book shop I’ve ever seen. If you’re a book lover, this is a must see. I’m not a book lover, but I was impressed.
From Ulmarra we motored to Maclean spending several nights anchored here, known as the Scottish township with 200 tartan decorated power poles. Once on land exploring we mastered to hill climb to the lookout. Good workout with the reward of lovely views.
Motoring further downstream we continued to Iluka. While anchored in Iluka Bay we explored onshore and enjoyed walking the World Heritage listed Rainforest Walking Track to Iluka Bluff lookout, more photos. We decided not to anchor in Yamba and to remain anchored in Iluka Bay, to visit Yamba it was just a short dinghy trip across the channel. This we did a couple of times, exploring the township and taking full advantage of both The Historical Hill walk & Flat walk. We had breakfast at the local Yamba markets and later on the same day we attended The Food Festival, which just happened to be at lunch time, so Flamen Kuchen (French/German cheese & onion pizza) & beer for lunch it was. I must say nowhere as good as the one we had in Germany as it was made to suit the aussie palate.
We have very much enjoyed our time on The Mighty Clarence River and the tranquillity it offers with many great photo opportunities to capture. We didn’t sail any of the river due to a certain path needing to be adhered to as there were many shallow parts in the river, and we would have been tacking every five minutes, which is no fun. The Clarence Valley Council has done a great job of making the river user friendly for boaties. Along the way most if not all small townships had public pontoons, allowing 24hrs stop over, some of which have power and water available. I made great use of our inflatable kayak on the river. On lifting anchor from Iluka we are heading to Sydney with several stop off points planned along the way, with our first anchorage being Coffs harbour.
Gold Coast to Clarence River
10 September 2017
My medical appointments seemed to go on an on an on. After my physio appointment pain was still very much present in my neck, so I had an MRI, which showed disc protrusion C5/6. So then I required several visits with the chiropractor, who was successful in realigning my body, resulting in resolving my neck pain. Yay. So with this resolved we started making plans to continue cursing south.
Before leaving South Stradbroke we had a lovely visit from my cousin Jo, who I hadn't seen for years. Was so great to see her, not to mention cranking the bubbles open at 11 am and having a lovely lunch, kindly cooked by Gerd, Thai pork & rice followed by cheese cake.
After 6 weeks anchored in Gold Coast waters we lifted anchor on 5th sept. Our exit out of the Gold Coast seaway was uneventful. We had an OK passage to Byron Bay, spotting several pods of whales along the way. Waters were calm, but we had swells 1-1.5m. I had prepared my body 2 days prior to lifting anchor by taking stugeron in prep for motion sickness. I was so pleased I had as the swells weren't nice, however stugeron made them bearable and I wasn't sick. Yay.
The anchorage at Byron Bay is ocean anchorage, hence it was a horrible one. We had done our homework on this anchorage and knew we could be in for a shitty night, the only other option was to do an overnighter, which we opted not too. Come 5am we were pleased to be under passage once again, arriving at Clarence Heads at the right time for the Yamba bar crossing, forth hour of the rising tide. Once again the bar crossing was uneventful, yay. We then motored into Iluka bay. We spent 1 night here, after the previous shitty night we were in bed by 7pm doing catch up. On waking the following morning well rested we were ready to explore the Clarence River.
Burnett Heads to South Stradbroke Island/Gold coast
17 August 2017 | South Stradbroke
Burnett Heads to South Stradbroke Island/Gold coast
We lifted anchor at 3 am on 4th July and set off to Fraser Island. We had variable winds 5-10 knots, hence we motor sailed all the way. Arriving at Platypus Bay/Fraser Island 1300hrs. We had our first sightings of humpbacks whale migrating north. Was great to see them breaching, bloody hard to take photos due to yacht movement tho. I gave up after many attempts and just enjoyed the moment. I started on my new motion sickness tablets, stugeron, so far so good.
We had 4 different anchorages along Fraser Island, enjoying the rainbow colours of the sand, making for great photos. We are noticing the cooler weather, with the winter clothes coming out of the lockers, and the billy getting boiled to add to our shower water. We are yet to experience a winter onboard Kestrel. My hot water bottle has been put to use. . We didn’t have much luck with fishing, catching a Ginner & Toad fish, both uneatable.
Lifting anchor from Pelican Bay/Fraser Island we did had our first bar crossing, Wide Bay Bar, this crossing all went to plan and we had an uneventful crossing, yay. We then did an overnight passage to Moreton Island, 118 nm/24 hrs, taking 4 hourly shifts at the helm. Once again we motored sailed, winds 5-10 knots. During my shift on the helm I had a bit of traffic and markers to identify and avoid. Identifying lights at night time sure as hell keeps one alert, I was rather pleased when my shift ended that night, as rather stressful. However all ended well. We stayed several nights at Moreton Island before lifting anchor and motor sailed to South Stradbroke Island where we are anchored at present.
We are anchored by Currigee camping ground. Great spot. Excellent holding ground for anchoring. We are only a short dinghy ride across the channel to Runaway bay shopping centre. This would have to be the most welcoming shopping centre for yacht and tender users we have ever come across. They have a pontoon in which ones dinghy can be locked to so we can go about our shopping without the worry of security of the dinghy. There is a laundromat 20min walk from shopping centre which we use. The camping ground on Stradbroke allows live on-board anchored by them to use their shower facilities, and I tell you they are the best hot showers I’ve come across. Good fishing here. The locals say best spot in the Goldcoast. One has the option of fishing in quite waters of the estuary or walking across Stradbroke to ocean beach for some surf casting. Both places of which we have caught bream & whiting. Gerd use successful with catching squid one morning off the bow, much to his delight.
Our anchorage here is for longer than anticipated. However the good thing about cursing at present we have no time restrictions. I have needed a week and half of physio on my shoulder and we have had some urgent applications that needed attending to. So being anchored here meant we had good use of library for printing, GP and other medical services.
We have explored the water channels here in the dinghy and attended the cultural festival at Southport and the Farmer markets in Surfers paradise. Also caught up with some old work contacts, was great seeing you both Helen & David. Cousin Nicki made a special visit from Brisbane to see us, Thanks Nicki was so great to see you and catch up with all the family news. Best of all we had a VIP guest on-board, Mum, all the way from NZ. She just happened to be in the area on a golf tournament, was great to show her our home on the water.
Don't forget to check out our photos posted in the Gallery.