Coming In and Checking In to Newcastle, Australia
In the grey, damp, cold morning air, Newcastle came into view.
Going south was one of the Navios fleet of chums. Unless you can get a glimpse of their back you don’t know which one – Rose, Apallon, Midstream and countless others. We have no doubt that she will be able to shrug at whatever the wind and waves hit her with but we wished her well.
After gaining permission to enter, I held back for David Allan.
Once inside the shelter of the breakwater, we had flat, calm – a sigh of relief. The wind though began to gust to twenty five.
Well colour me confused. You don’t think to look out for a chap paddling on his board when you’re looking for chums, pilots, tugs and the like......... Then we realised he was doing his sea rescue practice stuff. We waved and he waved back. Just as well there are these hardy souls taking care of the numpties who get into trouble swimming out of their depth.
Talking of pilots, we passed their station.
We sidled over to the right of the channel, just in case anything massive came out of the main fairway to the right. We watched a ferry cross from the town side to our side and park ahead of us.
What a ‘Welcome to Newcastle’. Water jets behind one of the sheds. Apparently the temperature rose into the forties which in part brought on the cold stuff we are in, but damping down becomes an important safety prevention against spontaneous ignition of the piles of coal and other combustible stuff about the harbour.
We always laugh at these chaps as they look like stick men with their hands on their hips.
Here we turned left into a cul-de-sac. I noticed a lady just to the right of the red leading mark.
She is rather handsome, could have done with her chest soothing the rough sea.
Up on our left we could see Christ Church Cathedral. We will do a proper explore of Newcastle on our way north - as planned, and this modern place of worship is on the must see list. Hope she will be all repaired for then.
It was rather lovely to watch a pecalin go through his flying moves, we haven’t really seen any since the Galapagos.
Next on the right, some very handsome tugs.
I don’t care who I have to chat up, I need a visit to this place. Rightee-oh then. Newcastle is one of Australia’s oldest and most interesting cities, containing a quirky blend of old and new architecture – we remember from our brief drive-through last year. One of the busiest ports in the world and the world’s largest coal export port Newcastle has twenty operational berths [nine dedicated to coal] facilitating more than 159.6 million tonnes in trade throughput and 4,600 ship movements annually. To the left of this monster building we could see the tiny yellow Quarantine Buoy.
Tied up at nine o’clock, engine off, logbook update and the usual chores needed to be completed as we settle to little movement. Always a laugh, you get used to walking around on a pitching and wobbling floor, so at first, it’s hard when it stays still. Beez Neez is feeling rightly very proud of herself. As ever, she has risen to anything thrown at her, never shuddered or shirked, continued to be our trusted friend – well more a family member and in four days we have lived permanently on her for seven and three quarter years and been sailing on this At-Venture for seven and a half. Time for a sandwich, toast our girl and to take stock. Above left, our track in. Above right, our position on the Q ball.
Not quite sure what happened to the first bit of our journey line only the last bit shows on the chart plotter. Oh well.
Well, colour me happy. Half way through my sandwich a chum is coming toward us with two working girls, another heading out to her, presumably to get her nestled alongside. Immediately, I said I was quite happy if Border Patrol was really busy today, that I am more than chuffed to sit here and watch this excitement.
In the now howling wind, the working girls manoeuvre Chengtu into the middle of the fairway.
Darling pushed her hips at the massive empty side of the giant behind her and did her stuff. This is as good as it gets........
A while later, Chengtu is safely tethered opposite us and awaiting her load. No surprise I looked her up later..........
Chengtu is a general cargo ship built in 1991. Home port: Hong Kong
Length: 177 metres
Beam: 28 metres
Draught: 10.14 metres
Gross Tonnage: 18,391
Summer DWT: 25,661
She loaded here today and is off on the morrow, bound for Auckland, due in on the 7th of December.
Meanwhile, beside us, we watched two men inspect all the fixtures and fittings at the top of these storage silos.
This busy little lady, darted back and forth and the chaps aboard waved every time they passed.
Just then a small white craft with a couple of meaty engines pulled up beside us. “Hello, I’m Michael. I’m Border Patrol. Can you follow me to the marina, far side of ‘A’ dock and we’ll begin your clearance procedures. Part of me was torn, I was having such a good time, but, engine on........ Beez had to lurch forward hard to allow Bear to get the tether off the ‘Q’ ball. That done, we followed on, in gusts to twenty five knots. Do so hope for a few minutes lull as I park...........fingers crossed.
To our right we passed a very attractive working combo.
Another look as we pass.
Well colour me baffled. I heard Bear say next to the green and white boat. Michael and his driver [never did find out his name] were bobbing just beyond it, so who was I to not follow captains orders, all of a sudden in here. Oo, very hard left next to a cream and white boat, must teach him to roll his r’s. Thank heavens the bow thruster worked. Can you pull a little to the right. No chance, the twenty knot wind was pushing us sideways left, all I could do was control a slow forward against the thankfully padded pontoon and thrust to the left to pivot off and onward. Not the prettiest but Michael later complemented.
A few minutes later Helen and Dean appeared. Helen was the first person to step onto Beez in Australia and therefore had to have a big hug. Dean, sporting a blue machine that looked like a hoover with no suction tube told me that he was never hugged as he did all the swabbing and testing. Knowing full well his fancy machine would find no trace of anything illegal aboard he was given a slightly smaller squeeze. Dean went to his task and Helen sat with me to do the initial paperwork. Michael later on sat in the cockpit and when it was Bear’s turn with Helen I went to chat.
“Do you not feel bothered about being rummaged” NO, I just have to think platypus, kangaroo and koala bear to feel the need that they and so many other creatures and flora must, at all costs, be protected and if that means an hours worth of being ‘rummaged’ – rummage away. Let’s face it the Pink Island is unique.
Dean’s machine found nothing despite many swabs and tests. It was time to bade these three polite, efficient, but above all friendly and welcoming officials a fond ‘farewell’. Bear is to bimble over to their office tomorrow for our cruising permit.
Howard, marina manager popped over with a couple of gate passes, such a lovely, helpful man, but knowing we still had our yellow flag up, couldn’t come aboard for a chat. Ditto a young couple from a few boats away. Nothing for it but to have a game of backgammon which Bear kindly let me win – always nice to get the first victory on a new island, country..........you’re trying to upset me again. Nnnnooo.
Tony from Quarantine appeared late afternoon and found all our stocks printed out on spreadsheet. He settled to his pile of forms and we all chatted like old friends. I knew to have the tomatoes and one apple ready for disposal and asked a list of other things I wasn’t sure about – Oxo cubes, fine. “Beans” chirped Tony, no, no beans of any kind. Dried peas ???, “no beans, bran or popcorn”. No, none of those. “Flour”, cornflour, gravy mix I said in a hopeful way. “No, no trace of bugs”. Dried mash not in packets, fine. Tinned chicken and tuna, fine. That went on for a while and then the steady beam of Tony’s torch looked at several edge joins to look for termite droppings. None found. Lastly, I had a couple of shells and trinkets on the table. No boring marks found so a clean bill of health. Everything signed, three hundred and sixty dollars paid on our credit card and we said our ‘farewell’ to Tony. Bear went to plug in the electrics and take down the yellow flag. We were here, we were all legal and the radio chirped as Scott-Free invited us to the Yacht Club for happy hour at five. Perfect timing. Wash face and teeth, change clothes and we were out the door.
Big hugs in welcome when we met up for the first time since the Blue Lagoon in Fiji. Celebratory libations and what the heck, I had fish and chips and Bear had the pork special. We met the Royals house guest and old friend, Nick and the evening tore away from us. Home to snuggle against each other – the best thing after a long passage.
Beez Neez on the marina, slip A12, Newcastle, Australia having completed 1034.21 nautical miles, in 193.5 hours, an average of 5.34 knots per hour. 84 hours solid sailing and the rest - engine ticking over just to keep on course, until we gunned for Sydney, just sixty miles away and the rest can be forgotten about as we plan a few days here and an overnight to Sydney on Monday after this weather system has faded to history.
Exciting times and much planning, not tonight as the lids locked tight.
ALL IN ALL AN INCREDIBLY GOOD DAY
THE DAY FLEW BY BUT SO WELCOMED BY EVERYONE