Empede Home Trip Logs Photo Gallery Russian       bluewaterdreaming.com

Sailing around Australian East Coast  Sydney — Cairns — Sydney , July-December 2007

From Bundaberg to Sydney (Pittwater)

From Bundaberg to Fraser Island


In Bundaberg we got fuel and water and took our course further south. The wind changed to south-west and we were tacking our way through the wind and waves.

Everything was wrong today: we were forcing the swell with the waves coming in short intervals and were as slow as 3-4 knots; autopilot didn’t cope with steering through the waves and we were taking turns steering getting splashed every 5 minutes.

Somebody left the window next to port bunk open, we haven’t checked and all this time the water was rushing through it making everything completely soaked in salt water. It was one of our “safe corners” which never got wet before and we stored there books, spare matrass, pillows, linen and towels. Then the computer power adaptor was lost and chart table seat fell and broke the GPS’s fuse.

Not everything, actually, was that bad. By some strange reason I was in a good mood and even fell proud of myself cooking a very tasty fish (emperor) in mushroom and sour cream sauce in such a rough conditions. I was also trying to take pictures of the waves, but on the photos they didn’t want to look their real size!


In the afternoon the wind gusts picked up to 30-35 knots. We were getting into more serious conditions, but thankfully we were arriving to our anchorage near point Vernon past Burrum Heads, opposite Dundowran Beach. To our surprise the anchorage was very tranquil and the boat stayed completely still without any hint of rolling.

We had a worth ever run, covering only 43 miles in 12 hours.



In the morning a lot of pumping and drying needed to be done. In  heavy rain or when the waves are splashing over the deck extensively, the chain locker and the bilge fill up with water. Luckily this morning was sunny and I could dry all the pillows, blankets and books that got wet yesterday, as well as our wet weather gear.

We decided to use a high tide at 12 pm to cut across the shallow parts of Hervey Bay and get straight to Fraser Island. Gonzalo was steering and nearly ran into a special mark sign. At 5 pm arrived to Fraser and anchored near North White Cliffs. I cooked the remaining emperor in tomato and sour cream sauce (Plucky brought to us lots of sour cream).



Spent all day steering around sandbanks between Fraser Island and the mainland and anchored for the night near Inskip Point, where barges take 4WD cars from mainland to Fraser Island.


From Fraser Island to Ballina


The wind is blowing from the north today and that’s exactly what we need to get home to Sydney. In the morning we crossed the Wide Bay bar and entered open ocean. We are not protected from the swell by reefs and islands anymore. Here also surfing beaches start:  we saw the first surf at Rainbow beach. The ocean is quite flat, however, and we can use the autopilot.



The night went in the same spirit. We slept, taking turns, and autopilot did all the steering. Gonzie was up from 12 to 4 am and then we swapped. I watched the sunrise which wasn’t particularly colourful and soon after saw Gold Coast’s tall buildings on the horizon.

East Australian Current started helping us a lot, and we were doing 7-8 knots.

Initially we planned our next stop in Coffs Harbour, however Seaway Tower Coastguard started broadcasting strong wind warnings. Also a southerly change is now coming earlier than expected before. The wind is  veering to the east and getting stronger. The sea so calm even this morning gets angry and bumpy. Near Cape Byron waves started to break and we decided to hide from this weather in Ballina. After rounding Cape Byron the waves receded a bit, but the conditions were getting worse. We crossed the bar to Ballina River at 4pm at incoming tide, getting soaked by the wave. There is no marina in Ballina and we anchored opposite a public wharf.



The weather forecast is still unfavourable southerly. We moored the boat to public wharf and went shopping.


Ballina to Coffs Harbour


The weather forecast seems to be better today, we crossed the bar without getting wet this time (the waves were big however). All the way to Yamba we dolphins swimming around the boat. The wind was from south-west initially, then it backed to the south and south-east eventually. We were planning to stop in Yamba at first as the conditions didn’t ;looked to good and autopilot wasn’t coping, however Yamba Coastal Patrol advised that today they had a king tide and a lot of water came in into Clarence River. It will take a lot of time for the water to leave and when the next incoming tide starts the water from the previous tide would still be running out, creating unfavourable outgoing currents. Also incoming tide was to start in 2 hours, but we were already near river entrance.

The weather also seemed to improve a bit and the waves calmed down. Autopilot would now be working and we decided to continue to Coffs Harbour.

Today is actually Christmas Eve – we are celebrating our second Christmas at sea (last year we were on the way to Lord Howe Island).



We arrived to Coffs Harbour at 7 am and took a random marina berth. Coastal Patrol Coffs Harbour advised us to take a certain berth initially, but it was too small as the neighbour boat seemed too “fat”.  In Queensland marinas are a bit bigger and we found it tough trying to fit the boat in a small berth with all the current in the area. So we berthed at the other spot that seemed bigger. (Later we checked with marina office whether it was ok to stay there).

Our friends Boris and Arina were in Coffs on holidays by coincidence and we spent Christmas Day together.


Coffs Harbour to Sydney


Today is Boxing Day and it is when Sydney to Hobart race starts. I decided to do some laundry and the radio in the laundry was broadcasting the start of the race. Apparently the weather forecast was northerly winds and flat seas all the way to Hobart – best conditions for the last few years. Later today I met a Tasmanian guy in the supermarket near marina who bought a boat in Coffs and was sailing to Hobart later today.

 The wind was still south-east in Coffs, but it was supposed to change to NE further south.

We left Coffs and took a course to Sydney!



At night we did shifts again, I actually was lucky to sleep from 12 to 5 am. In the midday autopilot was not working anymore, even though the sea conditions were good. We didn’t like the idea of hand steering all the way to Sydney and Gonzie fixed up the wind wane. It is working well (now that I’m writing this!). We also hit East Australian Current again and are making 7.5-8.5 knots (with an engine).



In the morning we were not going with the current anymore and our speed dropped to 4 knots. I slept from 9pm to 3 am and took over the shift while Gonzie went to get some sleep. At 5:30 I watched how bright-orange sun crawled up from  behind the horizon. We were due to arrive to Pittwater in 3 hour. I’m going to miss these mornings at sea, watching sunrise …

Soon enough we altered the course to enter Broken Bay. Here more care has to be taken as there are a few fishing boats around.


There seem to be a race on (this early in the morning!) with a few sailboats heading towards Terrigal.


Arriving to Pittwater we saw lot’s of boats going out at sea: many people are on holidays. We picked up our mooring at Careel Bay and here we are back in Sydney.

Later in the afternoon Gonzie’s dad is going to pick us up with a car and we will be home celebrating Christmas with the family. 

It will take us a while to adapt to “normal” life and we will miss the boat and all the beauty we experienced on our trip almost every day: the islands, sunrises, sunsets, blue water, swimming around the boat, reefs, and may be even the waves!





Leaving North West Island at sunset

A wet ride from Bundaberg to Vernon Point


Bad weather is coming

Cape Byron

Sunrise in Coffs Harbour

Christmas Day with friends in Coffs

My watches mostly started before sunrise and I took lots of photos of rising sun

Rounded Rectangle: Log Home
Rounded Rectangle: Next
Rounded Rectangle: Previous

Coming back to our mooring in Careel Bay,  Pittwater