Sail from Brisbane to Sydney

I’m writing this from Careel Bay in Sydney’s Pittwater after a two day sail from the Gold Coast Seaway. But sleep is pressing me and I’ll post more when I’m lucid.

Back again…

Here’s a map of Pittwater area and you can see Careel Bay just inside the heads. My view out of Current Sunshine is across to tree covered hills of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Its a lovely mixture of town facilities on one side and bush on the other.

Steve at the helm. Negotiating shallows on the way to Gold Coast.
Steve at the helm. Negotiating shallows on the way to Gold Coast.

On Tuesday last the weather map showed settled north-easterlies for the next four days on the east coast. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so I merely had to mention the idea of sailing to Sydney tomorrow to Steve and Kev and they embraced the notion.  So we left Monty’s on Wednesday morning and sailed down to the Gold Coast.

Of course I wasn’t really ready for this – I had still lots of little projects to do, but I figured I could do them anywhere.  The vagabond of the sea, Bernard Moitessier, makes it clear that you never get everything done on the boat-list.  To try to do so is to never go anywhere.  So taking his advice we went anyway. One of the things that could be inconvenient was that the batteries were still not fully charged but a lot closer, and better balanced.  And we used up about a third of the capacity in getting out of the Caboolture River.

Getting to the Gold Coast involved more shallow water areas than I’d remembered and so we used up some more of our precious power.  Even though our initial plan was to go out through the seaway that night, we decided to anchor up overnight to get a good sleep, and to run the little genset to top up the engine batteries a little – in a way a small compensation for me not having finished the balancing that I had hoped to.

Bumpy ride on these waves - bow about to crash down into a trough.
Bumpy ride on these waves - bow about to crash down into a trough.

The Torqeedo performed well getting us out through the Gold Coast Seaway. There was an outgoing tide just starting and an onshore 10 knots breeze to push against.  The Torqeedo performed well against the wind-over tide rough water.  And the synchronised steering of the motor and rudder was comforting.

10 to 15 knots from the east gave us a boat speed of 9 to 13 knots until evening when the wind eased a little. She sails so easily on a reach and mostly around wind speed. Sailing into the night we took shifts three hours on and six off.  Luckily our rhythms matched nicely… Steve 9 to midnight, Kev nidnight to 3 am, cos he’s always still up at midnight and often in the early hours, and me doing the 3am to 6am because I’m often awake soon after that anyway, because of my early bedtime.

Sunset somewhere near Seal Rocks
Sunset somewhere near Seal Rocks

The next evening we were expecting slightly stronger winds, so we put two reefs in before dark. No sooner had we done that than the wind picked up and she was scooting along at 13 to 15 knots, and every now and then catching a wave and boosting the speed up to as much as 19 knots.  Kev was on the wheel  and with all three bows foaming as she raced down into the trough, couldn’t help wondering expletively loud if we had put in enough reefs after all. Over about 15 knots she starts to hum in a wild way that intensifies the speed sensation.  As if there was not enough adrenalin flowing already, he called for a can of red bull.

The waves settled after crossing into shallow water – the waves were steeper where the ocean changed depth from 1 kilometre back to about 200 metres.  Coming down past Port Stephens the wind eased and the for the rest of the night she loped a long nicely around 10 knots.

Lots of bulk carriers anchored in loneliness to the west of us, waiting to load coal at Newcastle. So close to port, and so close to each other, and yet keeping to themselves, waiting on the harbourmaster’s word.

As first light of dawn filters in, Steve is asleep on a bean bag in the cockpit, Kev asleep in the cabin. I can see the light of Barrenjoey headland – four flashes and then darkness, four flashes and darkness…  The chart describes the light as Fl (4) 20s 113m 19M. Despite having the GPS showing our position on the electronic chart plotter, its surprisingly comforting to see the actual light right where it should be, when we’re 19 miles away, and flashing four times every 20 seconds.

Kev cooks up a breakfast of scrambled eggs and tomato – such a simple breakfast and yet so delicious and energising after sailing through the night. Steve on wheel to take us into Broken Bay, and to his old stamping ground of Careel Bay, and Avalon Beach. We pick up a mooring arranged with the marina in Careel Bay – Steve works out that we took about 44 hours from Gold Coast to Broken Bay heads, and our speed averaged 8.5 knots.

Southerly change coming in over Pittwater
Southerly change coming in over Pittwater

Steve’s dad is there to meet us, and his offer of a hot shower can’t be refused. Round at their place he and Margaret make us welcome and ply us with tea, toast and croissants. The trip is done.  They drop me back at Current Sunshine to get some sleep – and soon enough Steve and Kev will fly back to Brisbane.

No sooner did I get back to the boat than the sky turned dark as I crashed.  Good timing huh.

For another perspective and more photos see Miki and Steve’s blog

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