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

Pittwater to Port Stephens

 

23.07.2007

By midday all the things found their places and we are ready to leave.

Our fist destination is Port Stephens. We left Pittwater and passed Barrenjoy Head at around 3:30 pm. Port Stephens is around 80 miles away from here and this distance is too much to cover in one day Ė itís better to go overnight and arrive in the morning.

Wind is blowing 15-20 knots NE, but thatís exactly where we need to go! We have been waiting for too long to start our trip and didnít want to wait any longer just because the wind is wrong. So we are heading slightly more east, close to the wind.  We put the main and genoa up and left the engine running - shutting it down means loosing a couple of knots. Eastern Australian current sets south at up to 3 knots along this part of the coast, and this doesnít help going north.

 

Leaving Pittwater, we registered with Coastal Patrol and were supposed to let them know when passing Terrigal. Unfortunately we were very slow fighting with that wind and making on average 2.5 knots. CP started looking for us before we even managed to reach Terrigal. They rang Gonzieís dad and he rang us Ė such an efficient service, we sought, they actually worried about us. From now on we will need to log with CP every 2-3 hours, not just when we pass certain locations.

After 8pm started watch rotations: Iím doing 8pm to 12am shift and then Gonzie takes 12am to 4 am, and then me again until we arrive to Port Stephens.

Iím steering only half awake, thinking about how cold it is, listening to the waves splashing over the deck. Also Iím starting to wonder whether it was worth leaving work and going sailing at all. Here Iím standing in the cockpit in the middle of the night tired and cold, but breathing fresh sea air, not the pollution of the city.

Iíll at least give it a try, I thought, and suddenly was woken up by the lights of the huge cruising ship passing by a bit far away, but seems closer due to its enormous size. The cruise ship was a lot faster then us and soon disappeared to the east Ė probably going to New Caledonia or Fiji.   We are a bit further away from the main shipping channel, so didnít see any other boats the whole night.

Iím standing in the cockpit half asleep, steering almost automatically. We have electronic autopilot, but it doesnít work with the big waves like today and when the angle between the course and the wind is too small. Itís very dark and I canít see anything apart from the white sails and screens of the chart plotter and wind instrument. With the engine on it feels like Iím a pilot of some spaceship in a science fiction cartoon.

 

24.07.2007

At 12 am Gonzie woke up and I went to sleep. In the morning he woke me up at 5:30 am instead of 4 am - I got 1.5 hours extra sleep.

Coming out of my warm bunk into the cold winter morning was a bit of a mission, but when I saw how beautiful it is outside I was happy. The seas are almost flat, the waves striking the boat at night calmed down. A seal is sleeping on the surface, looking like a dry tree from far away and freaking out when we got closer.

Since the waves are no longer big and we are going 90 degrees to the wind, the autopilot is working. Thatís easy, I can go inside to make some tea and have breakfast.

That moment I thought that I havenít been actually seasick the whole night as I was on Lord Howe trip last December.

 

Having arrived to Port Stephens we grabbed a courtesy mooring opposite the beach and went to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My night watch

Sleeping seal

Tanker near Port Stephens

Approaching Port Stephens

Dolphin watching boats

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