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
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
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
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
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
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!