Those of you who know us realise we are not big on overnight sails; they are tiring, especially when it is just the two of us on board. But with our friend Waz crewing with us from Port Macquarie to Eden and very short weather windows to make progress south, we did not have much choice. So we have had three overnighters since leaving the Gold Coast, the first on our own, the next two with Waz. They are large hops and as we said in our last post, they make sense when you want to cover big distances in a short time.
Port Hacking to Eden
We had about 30 hours of NE breeze to cover the 200nm stretch from Port Hacking to Eden before the SE change arrived. We left Port Hacking at dawn last Friday, with no wind at all initially but with a strong wind warning forecast for later in the day. We motored for a few hours.
George our auto pilot was at work while all three of us were up at the bows, checking out the shearwaters and the dolphins.
Eventually the wind picked up a bit and Bluey the Spinnaker was put to work. The sled ride was on from offshore of Wollongong, to well past Jervis Bay.
We opted to go out wide a long way offshore to not only take advantage of the East Coast current but also to be well clear of the cliffs of Jervis Bay. The 15nm length of tall escarpments create horribly choppy seas even in calm conditions from the rebound of the waves against the sheer walls. With 25-30 knot wind forecast, we did not want to sail in a washing machine.
Once the true wind reached 18 knots, we socked the spinnaker and instead ran the screecher for a few hours. And finally we swapped the screecher for the small jib during the night, when things got a bit lively.
We had a rather busy night sail, with thunderstorms on the coast. It was a spectacular light show all night long with sheet lightening illuminating the whole coast. We were far enough offshore to avoid the worst of it and to not get too soaked by rain, but with the wind right on our tail, we kept having to gybe the screecher time and time again, a manoeuvre that requires two people! Poor Wade was on call every time to give whoever was on watch a hand!
At dawn, still a couple of hours away from Eden, the skies were still threatening, but the wind had calmed down. We had the jib working and one engine ticking along.
We made it into Nullica Bay at Eden by about 8am, and anchored stern to the beach initially, knowing we would be right for when the change came later in the day.
We sent the drone up for a few aerial views. This is one of the last images with the Mavic Air drone. It had been playing up the last few times, with a delayed response to controls which made hovering and landing on deck challenging. In a later flight it drifted into the life lines, flipped over and fell in the drink, never to be seen again! We were planning to upgrade it for a newer model in Melbourne so although it is disappointing we won’t get a trade-in, it is not the end of the world.
Well, we will have seen it all on this trip! On Saturday night, the Bureau of Meteorology issued an unusual alert: a Tsunami warning was declared in the Pacific as a result of a massive underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga. Most of the east coast of Australia was under threat. The marine state emergency advice was for people to get away from the foreshore, and for those vessels in shallow water to go out to sea and remain in at least 25 meters of water. So at 10pm we raised anchor, donned the life jackets and motored offshore of Eden. There we stayed for the night, just drifting slowly. So much for catching up on lost sleep!
We came back to port to drop Waz ashore on Sunday morning. He had a hire car booked for his drive home to Port Macquarie. We all enjoyed our time together on Anui. We had a helping hand for the night passages, Waz got some varied sailing tuition.
After dropping our friend off, with the threat of dangerous conditions diminished, we went back to our anchorage. Apparently a 70cm wave was recorded at Eden during the evening – out at sea, we did not feel anything. We got off lightly along the Australian coast, but the waves in Tonga and other south Pacific islands were devastating.
Off to Bittangabee!
The next few days were a waiting game. The NE wind was forecast to return at the end of the week, so we busied ourselves: chores on board, preparation for the next instalment, re-provisioning, cooking up a few meals, studying every weather update for a sign we could leave Eden at last!
On Wednesday, Wade’s brother Murray joined us, having flown in from Melbourne. He was keen to accompany us for the last couple of legs – a glutton for punishment as guess what we are doing? Yap, more overnighters!
Finally after six days, we decided to make a small move: a tiny 12nm hop further south to Wade’s all time favourite anchorage at Bittangabee Bay. This is a very scenic nook. The wind was not yet right to go any further, but at least it provided a welcome change of scenery and allowed us to stretch our legs ashore, looking for lyrebirds! With Take It Easy we used to go right inside the inlet on the left. With Anui we anchor in front of the sandy beach. This is one time when we miss the drone, but we will be back with the new beast on the way back up hopefully to get our own shot with Anui in it!
We can tell we are a long way south: it is cold, we saw our first albatross, we were wearing the full Musto catastrophe (offshore wet weather gear).
We went for a long walk to the Green Cape Lighthouse, a 16 kms return hike, which tired us enough to go to bed by 8.00am, in preparation for the dawn departure the next day.
Today as we post this, we are bound for Wilson’s Promontory, a 240nm passage. We are turning the corner at the bottom of the Australian mainland and entering Victorian waters. Woohoo!