Arrived Lord Howe Island from Mooloolaba
01 January 2017 | 31 31.429'S:159 03.025'E, North Passage, Lord Howe Island, Tasman Sea
The water is aquamarine blue, the mutton birds welcoming and Mt Gower towers majestically over us. After very slowly with a handkerchief sail (jib mostly furled) we slowly sailed towards Lord Howe to arrive in the daylight. It was thrilling to see the shape of the twin humps of the mountains silhouettted against the dawn light. I radioed in at 5.15 am and received an answer from the Port Operations Manager. He gave us permission to anchor outside until there was enough water for us to come into the lagoon with our draft of 2.1m. He advised us to be on anchor watch as we were anchored in rocks and it was very rolly. We rested up waiting for the radio call to give us permission to head in.
At 9.30am, 2 hours before high tide we received the call. Once the anchor was up, we motored in under radio instructions. 'After the 2nd green buoy, 2 good boat lengths turn to starboard. Your mooring is west of the first catamaran.' It is very windy here. As we motored towards our mooring, the crew of 'Time Out' were in their dinghy welcoming us. 'Can you give us a hand?' I asked. This was great as there is not much manoevering space. I threw them a line, just as my top blew up around my neck to give them a great view of my boobs. Oh dear! ( I never wear bras when sailing.) We all laughed and tied Valiam up successfully. Later Bill swam with snorkel and flippers to attach a second sturdier rope. We wont move anywhere now.
As I type I can see the cloud wafting over the top of Mt Gower and plan to do a painting while we are here. With tons of food and drinks on board, there is no hurry to go ashore yet. We have the big wooden dinghy to launch so will attempt that tomorrow for a look-see around the island. There are less boats here than in 1999. I can only see 3 other yachts. It's expensive to moor here now - a week here for us will be aroud $400. It is a World Heritage area and very beautiful and unspoilt.
Our friends Kim and Steve had planned to sail here on their yacht Red October and left their home port of Port Macquarie on the 28th December. Extremely rough conditions and 30 knot winds from the north made their foray out dreadful so after battling it for 2 hours decided to head back. Sailing to windward against the current in those conditions was stressful for them to say the least. Our 425 nautical mile run from Mooloolaba was trouble free in north easterly winds no stronger than 20 knots. It was uncomfortable at times and the waves coming from the east gave Mona our autopilot a hard time so she spat the dummie not wanting to stay on course. As she wasn't coping with the stronger winds and waves and there was no point in arriving at Lord Howe any time after dark, Bill decided to take th main down. We sailed along sedately for Valiam and even slowed her further winding in the jib to a small triangle so our arrival co-incided with dawn - around 4.30am.
It's been 2 years since we've done any long passages - the last one was Mooloolaba to Pittwater December 2015. And before that it would have been 2-3 years earlier in the Mediteranean on board Lati. (2014 - Day hops from Greece to Turkey and back, 2013 - 8 days from Gibraltar to Sicily, 2012 - 25 days USVI to The Azores) It's hard work and tiring especially when the boat is rolling and heeling tryig to sleep, go to the loo, cook etc, let alone dealing with the rig and cantankerous autopilot often at night. So today we rest. That champagne and beer tasted so good with bacon and eggs! I hope the wind stops howling in the rigging though. When the southeasterly comes in, it shoudl be calmer hopefully. Snorkelling should be good here - just a stones throw from the boat.