R R and R (rest recuperation and repairs)
04 July 2008 | Brisbane
Apologies for the time between updates. We have travelled a fair way ( by boat standards) since the last one. Passing by Bondi Beach and Coogee we made our way into Sydney harbour on a calmish Monday morning while everyone was doing the commuter thing in there cars. On entering Port Jackson (as Sydney Harbour is officially called) we took the first anchorage recommended by friends and close by Manly. This we used as a base to get ashore and collect the spares needed for repairing the auto pilot, they took 10 days to arrive as there were none in the country. A note for readers who are in the market for a new auto pilot, mine was supplied by Navman whose after sales service in atrocious, they did not recognise the part numbers that they had supplied as part of the original documentation and have never stocked this faulty item as a spare. On the other hand, Coarsemaster autopilots use the same pump and knew exactly what I was after. They spent 30 - 40 mins with me showing me how best to fit the replacement part and provided more than expected in after sales service, remember it was not one of their autopilots that was fitted to my boat.
We spent two weeks in Sydney moving closer into the city when adverse winds made the Manly anchorage untenable. Sydney has a fantastic harbour but you really have to have your wits about you at all times as there are ferries, container vessels, commercial and navy ships moving around all the time. Repairs successfully completed it was time to move on, the next stop was some 20 miles up the coast into Pitt Water (Broken Bay) with its exclusive properties lining the shore. It was a pleasant quiet trip out of Sydney Harbour into Pittwater until we entered the harbour bay which is hidden from seaward. We arrived in the middle of a yacht race and I have never seen so many yachts per square mile as this, it came as a bit of a shock as we had to weave our way through to get to our anchorage for the night. On the way up the coast I caught my first tuna, thanks to all who left comments and tips. I hadn't bought a gaff but following Marks comments was able to successfully land the fish. I don't need the Red Cross parcel of tinned tuna offered by Paul just yet.
In Broken Bay we caught up with friends from Hastings, Doug and Pam on there lovely wooden yacht "Helly" and spent 4 - 5 days socialising and drinking red wine with them.
The call of warm weather still beckoned, as much of the time the weather in Sydney was cool and wet. We decided to rush past some of the regular cruising grounds in our quest for warmer waters. Leaving Pittwater we decided to do an overnight sail past Newcastle and into Forster on the mid NSW coast. After we had reached the point of no return a huge thunderstorm covered the area, with lightning once again flashing all around us. The area south of Newcastle is remarkable. Newcastle is one of Australia's main resource export towns and for 40 miles south very large tankers were anchored waiting for their turn to be loaded with coal often for transport to China. We counted 35 - 40 in total. They posed no threat to us as they were not moving. We passed by the port entrance in the early hours and continued our way north experiencing some of the best sailing we have had since setting off. Having left behind the worry of passing by Newcastle another hazard reared its head (literally), whales. The eastern coast of Australia is on the migration path for humpback whales leaving Antarctica heading for tropical waters to breed. It was common to see 10 during the day, we would be watching one 100 meters away breeching and landing with a huge splash when another would slowly glide by just breaking the surface within 20 metres of us. These beasts are huge, certainly longer and heavier than our boat. It is not unknown for an angry whale to sink a yacht, especially wooden or fibreglass ones. At times like this that we are thankful that ours is steel.
Over the next few days we slowly made our way north visiting some small towns we had never heard of along the way and meeting up with people who were on the same journey as us. Eventually, despite the East Coast current slowing us down we crossed the NSW - Queensland border and entered the Gold Coast seaway after another all night sail. For those who do not know, this area is the holiday centre of Australia with its theme parks, resorts and miles of surf beaches. We dropped anchor just outside the famous Sea World. We do not particularly like this type of environment and soon set off again to travel the shallow rivers of the delta and on to Brisbane. These inland waterways are quite shallow and intricately weave there way north to south leading to Moreton Bay and the Brisbane River. For anyone who is contemplating this trip for the first time and is using the latest edition of Cruising the Coral Coast by Alan Lucas it is vital that you get the latest updates from his website. The river just south of Jacobs Well has not been dredged and is very shallow and should only be crossed at high tide. Along the waterways of this delta there are a number of exclusive housing developments with houses leading up to the waters edge and berthing docks for the boat at the end of the garden. I was told the land value alone for these properties was $1 to 2 Million, talk about a different world.
We are currently in the very heart of Brisbane on the river just outside the botanical gardens and will stay here for a couple of weeks. We both agree that waking up in different locations on a regular basis is invigorating and we are getting more of the warm weather we are looking for. Despite this I am in fact writing this update as the rain teems down outside, typical Queensland, beautiful one day not quite perfect the next.
Boats, as other owners will testify are always works in progress to a greater of lesser degree and ours, whilst quite comfortable still requires some additions. While we are in Brisbane I need to upgrade the refrigeration system to better cope with the tropics (more dollars out of the budget) and to store all those fish I am going to catch.
Until next time.
Dave and Jean
PS in answer to Sue Mc's question. We carry about 300 litres of diesel and use approx 2 litres per hour at 5 knots giving a potential range under motor of 750 nautical miles.