Mission to Melbourne – Port Hacking to Bittangabee

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.

Dawn just off Port Hacking
Early morning mist along the cliffs of the Royal National Park

George our auto pilot was at work while all three of us were up at the bows, checking out the shearwaters and the dolphins.

Wade and Waz off watch in glass out conditions

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.

Just enough wind for Bluey

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.

Still under screecher
Storm clouds building

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.

Anui facing the wrong way at Nullica Bay, but not for much longer!

Tsunami Warning

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.

Bye bye Wazzy!

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.

Back to Nullica Bay

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.

Green Cape Lighthouse
Anui at Bittangabee – She is still where we left her!

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!

20 thoughts on “Mission to Melbourne – Port Hacking to Bittangabee

  1. I’m sorry that you guys lost the drone, apparently, it was malfunctioning and just gave up! Our US West Coast had a Tsunami warning too, the wave was supposed to be about two feet or so, or something like that. They were lucky California wasn’t slammed. Have a safe passage! 😎🇦🇺

  2. I don’t mind over nighters – providing the crew are competent and aren’t sick – then it becomes a marathon!

  3. Great to hear that you finally got some leisure and rest at Bittangabee!! Hugely deserved.
    Truth be known…Wade is not human…he’s actually an alien that doesn’t require sleep!
    Coz after 3 overnight sails within 5 days…and then essentially another overnighter on Saturday night when the Tsunami warning saw us back out to sea (completed all by skipper Wade), that was some serious sleep deprivation!!!
    Anyway, Melbourne is getting closer at a fast pace. You’re both terrific teachers (given my hundreds of questions) and marvellous people, taking on all your challenges, in life and in sailing!!
    Thanks again for the great experience.
    Cheers, Waz

    • Lovely to get your comment Waz and really glad you enjoyed your time on board. We have just made it across into Victoria, and it is a relief to know we’ll make it to Melbourne with time to spare. Thanks for your help with the overnighters… much appreciated.

  4. Nearly there, great. Now to see the doctors. I hope all goes well with the appointments. I am pleased Waz enjoyed the trip, safe sailing. Back in the cold weather is not my idea of fun. But for you it is a change from the heat up north.

  5. I was worried that the Tsunami was going to affect you, being in that side of Australia. Luckily you and Wade are well. 🙂

  6. Have had great pleasure in scrolling thru’ this more than once finally knowing where you probably are whilst I am keyboarding this ! Landlubber scaredy-cat me never realized the wide open sea could be as smooth as the ‘boys’ show . . . and love the SE Australia map I had not found and shall find very practical ! . . . am smiling reading your last comment . . . albatrosses and dolphins . . . let it run as smooth as possible from here on in . . .

  7. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back to Melbourne. Safe travels.From Mary and Mic.

  8. I am sorry to hear of the demise of the drone–your footage from it has been absolutely amazing. I was heartened by significant progress that you have made, thanks in part to those overnighters. I really like that final photo of the Anui moored at Bittangabee, so close, it seems, to the beach.

    • We are pleased with our pace and can now relax a bit. You are right about how close Anui was to the beach… in a deep hole but close enough for one person to swim to the boat and ask us about our nomadic life, as her and her husband were considering doing something similar!

      • It seems like your pace is often dictated by the weather conditions and you have to somehow adjust your plans within the confines of what the weather will allow. Flexibility and patience seem to be prerequisite traits for your chosen lifestyle. 🙂

      • We are totally weather dependent and yes, flexibility (which we have) and patience (which I personally lack) go with the lifestyle! 🙂

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