For the second week of our escape from lockdown we have made good progress. We took advantage of the conditions, catching up with friends when it was blowing northerly, and zooming along when the weather was favourable to cover distances. So let’s go on four hops!
A short 36 nm from Bermagui, Broulee is a handy spot to come to as an alternative to going a long way into Batemans Bay. It is suitable in stronger weather conditions: you can shelter from southerlies behind Broulee Island, and if you need to hide from northerlies as we did, you can cut across to the other side of the bay and drop the pick in front of Barlings Beach. Either side affords good shelter, albeit with some swell in fresher winds.
We anchored at Barlings Beach for three nights. Although there are no facilities close by, with a provisioned boat it does not matter.
We caught up with friends on the weekend while the breeze was northerly. We met up with Hayden and Ann – Hayden helped Wade bring the boat down from Batemans Bay to Melbourne. And we spent time with Lyn and reminisced about her soulmate and our friend Baz who passed away two months ago. We felt sadness mixed with comfort to be able to hug one another, look back and look ahead.
Riding the Westerlies to Gerroa
With 20 to 30 knot blustery westerlies on Monday we had a few options up our sleeves for our next stopover, including Bendalong on the southern side of Jervis Bay, Boat Harbour, just inside the northern head of Jervis Bay and Crookhaven Bight, south of Greenwell Point. The coast is quite scenic. Here are a few photos:
Westerly winds are difficult, gusty, offshore winds in winter in NSW. They roll across from the Great Dividing Range and pack a punch. They are on the beam so you typically have the jib and main up. But you go from a 5 or 6 knot breeze, hardly enough to fill the sails, to 30 or 40 knot gusts a few minutes later when you need a double reefed main. You feel you never have the right amount of sails out: it’s either too much or not enough. Anui is a powerful vessel, so we reef for the gusts and put up with crawling in the lulls to minimise stress on us and the boat.
The conditions became ‘interesting’ as the day developed with strengthening WNW. With two reefs in the main and by mid afternoon feeling we could have put the third one on, we kept going. In the end we sailed past Jervis Bay, past Crookhaven Bight, past Greenwell Point and kept going to anchor at Gerroa, a 75nm passage. We felt a bit salt encrusted by the time we got there from all the spray and waves we took! The anchorage was passable only in these conditions, but we were safe. Top speed 12.5 knots, top gust 42 knots, a very choppy and wet ride! We’ll tell you a little secret: we don’t really like westerlies, especially when we are not able to hug the coast for some protection! Once past Jervis Bay we were in the open and the going was rough.
Our next hop was a shorter 50 nm passage to Jibbon Beach in Port Hacking. It was also a fast passage along the Illawarra coast, but much more comfortable.
Jibbon Beach is a nice cove on the edge of the Royal National Park. There is one public mooring and a few club moorings, or you can anchor safely over sand. It can get busy on weekends but mid week you have it to yourself. We have often stayed there for a few days: there are lovely walks and it is handy for provisions at nearby Bundeena, just a dinghy ride away, but this time we decided we would only stay overnight and use the last day before a northerly change to keep going to Barrenjoey, 30nm further, past Sydney.
Barrenjoey & Pittwater
With a sunset like that we should have suspected we would get challenging conditions the next day. We left on Wednesday under a patch of blue sky but as soon as we got out of Jibbon Beach we faced the music: swell and chop, 30 knot SSE, big rain clouds complete with water spouts, and whales in hot pursuit!
With a tiny bit of jib, it was not the most comfortable passage – and not pretty either as you can see from the next photo, but we managed to avoid the rain and the willy willies.
We ended up picking up a public mooring at Coasters Retreat. With another bout of northerlies forecast for several days, we are once again using the time to catch up with people we know before continuing our voyage north. Today as we post this we are meeting our dear friend Sue. And we have a few other mates we have not seen in a few years visiting us over the weekend.
We love seeing wildlife during our passages: whales, dolphins, seabirds keep us entertained. Well, this week we spotted something different, a pod of what initially looked like dolphins, only bigger, blacker, really energetic and fast. On closer inspection, we found they were in fact False Killer Whales. These are typically found in tropical waters (we had seen them off Palm Island in North Queensland) and normally prefer the open ocean, however they have been known to venture to coastal waters, including up and down the NSW coast. So this was our lucky day! Because these sightings here are quite rare, we have a few images in a slide show, starting with a wide angle shot then moving in closer.
We are really invigorated by our migration north. It is such a brilliant mix of sailing Anui in interesting conditions, observing glorious wildlife and reconnecting with friends we have not seen in ages. We hope you enjoy accompanying us. Next instalment: Swansea, Port Stephens… getting warmer!