Gold Coast - Heading South Day 3 - Arrived Pittwater - 33 38.362S 151 17.084E

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 26 Nov 2012 12:13
Arrived Pittwater at 13.15 today, 17 hours earlier than predicted - it was a very fast passage! The winds continued at 20-25kts from the north all through last night and with a less rough sea and both headsails up (and well rolled) we continued to make great speeds (7.5-8.5kts most of the time). This continued up until this morning when the wind dropped out completely and we encountered fog for the first time since leaving the UK 4 years ago. It wasn't too thick, but we were very pleased that it occurred after we had passed Newcastle. Why you may ask. Well, strange as it may seam, Newcastle here has the same trade that Newcastle back home had in abundance once upon a time - coal, coal and more coal. And as a result there are lots of big ships milling around waiting to go alongside and load up with the black stuff. Add to that the oil tankers that run up and down the coast and we had an AIS screen showing 25-30 ships! It's surprising to us that we managed to get through them with out any real problems. It may well have been the fact that we were transmitting AIS and they could see where we were early enough to avoid being on a collision course. One ship was coming up close behind and we called on VHF and agreed which side he would overtake us on.

We left the Gold Coast with 3 other boats and, as always, it didn't take long before we were all well spread out (5 to 20 miles apart), but we were in radio contact every day, either on VHF (line of sight) or SSB. It was good to be able to compare routes, get reports on weather conditions and generally chat on how the passage was going.

When the wind drops out here it drops out completely, so we had to motor the last 30 miles. But never mind, up to that point we had sailed the whole way. In the last 24 hours we covered 172.9 sea miles. In total we covered the 400 mile passage in 2 days and 7 hours, a fantastic average of 7.3kts. Apart from Saturday night when the seas were a bit too 'boisterous' (although it was still very comfortable below), it had been a perfect sail - winds behind and Aurora B flying along with both headsails poled out. And to cap it all off, the skies were clear and it was sunny most of the time, and at night the moon was out, lighting up our path through the sea.

Pittwater is an inlet (fiord like)in the coast and runs south parallel to the coast for about 3 miles. It's around 18 miles north of Sydney harbour, and is one of the most picturesque boating areas on the Australian east coast. So good is it that there are reputedly over 3,000 mooring laid here. Being close to Sydney, a lot of Sydney people keep their boats here and come up for the weekends. Our aim was always to use this area as our base for around 3 months and go into Sydney Harbour proper for a couple of weeks during Christmas and New Year. That is still our aim. We've been very lucky to find someone with a mooring buoy to rent in a prime position here in Pittwater. That was made possible by meeting Australians Judy and Geoff (yacht Ka Mate - a British built Warrior 40) in New Caledonia. They had the contacts that made it possible to arrange. We could lie at anchor the whole time, but it would have to be in the more remote parts of the Pittwater inlet (as all the best spots are full of moorings) making provisioning and boat work a lot more difficult. The aim now is to take life a little easier (we don't feel we've stopped since leaving New Zealand) and work on the boat (carrying out maintenance, a few repairs and making a few enhancements - our boat-list of things to do is, as we've said before, never ending). But with some time to spare, good weather and good marine services, we're looking forward to getting on with the work. There will be some sightseeing days, but we haven't had a chance to read the guide books and see what's within range.

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