Sydney to Brisband

The trip back north; Sydney to Brisbane

I took on new crew for the trip back up the Aussie coast. Anja and Sonny, a young Australian/German couple contacted me on Findacrew and although I have been reluctant to take on couples, their enthusiasm bid me to take them on. I could not have made a better choice.

Anja quickly became the master of the Poo Poo Platter

Anja, the German has an engineering background, is amazingly organized and always truly a bundle of cheer. Sonny is the classic Ausie boy, never rattled, always happy and totally invested in learning more about boating. He has a professional Coxman’s ticket. They met on a dive boat where they were both dive masters. They are an incredibly cute, fun and efficient couple. They complement each other perfectly.

We left Bobbin Head and did a couple of days anchored in the national park where we swam, kayaked and just relaxed waiting for a weather window. When the day came, we did a predawn departure and heaed up the Eastern Australian coast, a stunningly beautiful coastline. We had light to moderate head winds—yup I did this trip uphill both ways— which made for a sometimes bumpy ride. The prevailing southern current seemed to get a boost from the recent tsunami and we fought a 2 plus knot current most of the way.

With no time pressure and weather not inspiring of long passages, we harbor hopped up the coast. Our first stop was Port Stephens. This is a famed hang out for serious sportfishers and a lovely, well protected bay. I had inquired about guest moorage at the three local marinas and was shocked to find the pricing from $225 to $155 a night, yikes. It appears there was a fishing tournament in progress which created a market tolerable of such pricing, I dropped the hook.

We dinghy explored the bay and did some shopping the headed out predawn the second day. As darkness fell we came by a large sailing cat and I took some pictures of the passing boat. We chatted on the radio with Captain Anne and e mailed each other the pictures—ahh technology. The wind picked up to 30 knots as the sun was setting so we ducked into a small fishing village, Crawly Bay. Typical of such places the fishing was almost gone and a small population of retired folks lived in the community. The dock was in sad shape and we suspended Futhur between four pilings for the night. The next leg was short so we actually left in daylight heading to Port McQuarie. I had stopped there on my way down and wanted to say hi to the Trevor, the harbormaster and hopefull the Lucas’s whom we had met on the way down. Trevor answered the phone and was happy to see us again, “take you usual berth” he told me. Sadly the Lucas’s where not aboard their boat so I missed the opportunity to thanks them for their fine cruising books. You will need their two books on cruising the east coast if you ever come here. They are reminiscent of the Douglas’s books and personalities at home.

While in Port Mac as they call it, we went to the theatre and saw the Kings Speech. I was always a movie nut and used to see every academy nominee each year—I only saw two this year so it was nice to see a movie.

A very early, three AM, departure set us up for hitting Coff’s Harbor in the daylight. We pulled in and got a slip assignment. Coff’s Harbor is a natural harbor that is enhanced by a new and huge breakwater then another set of breatwaters protecting the marina. Even though the harbor protrudes into the ocean the harbor is very safe. This soon became one of those, gee I could live here places. The people showed that rural Aussie charm and generosity. We met another Findacrew friend there who took us via car to dinner. It is amazing how expensive dining out is in the cities and how cheap in the rural towns, ten dollar steaks around was the order of the day.

I passed by a sign, “three hour surf lesson” and just had to take a look, a short conversation and I am signed up. I meet the instructor the next morning along with my classmate, Emily, a 13 year old girl and we head to the beach. I have taken the “first lesson” several times but never had the chance to keep up on surfing long enough to gain any kind of skill, or even stay on the board. Matt, the instructor, gave me a few very helpful pointers as I wallowed in the surf. In due course I was able to at least stand on the board and ride a very small wave in. it felt great!

After two nights at this wonderful town we did a mid day departure to get the timing for the bar crossing at Southport twenty four hours up the coast. The winds were light and seas calm as the sun set and the nearly full moon rose. This was going to be one of those banner nights at sea. The incredible beauty was accented by the magical display of phosphorescence jetting out from the bow riding dolphins. This was a site that makes all the travel worthwhile.

The next day we hit slack tide perfectly and did an uneventful bar crossing and again entered the Southport Yacht Club. The harbormaster was glad to see Furthur again and got us a primo berth.

Sadly I bid Sonny and Anja good bye, the real life of jobs and house payments will keep them on shore for a while but I know they now have the cruiser’s life in their blood.