Saturday 31-09-2009, and Sunday
Locations Refuge Bay, Cowan Creek 33:35.9S
Palm Beach, Pittwater 33:35.9S
Not sure if the software allows two locations in
one blog, but this is where I have spent the weekend, along with many many
Sidneysiders. At last they have all gone home, the afternoon north
easterly has abated, and even the Pittwater is now peaceful. I think that I last
wrote as my crew jumped ship, and I left Sydney. The wind was blowing straight
down the harbour, just the opposite of when we arrived, so I had to motor
out, just as we had motored in. Not a bad thing with so much traffic to avoid.
Once clear of North Head all the sails were hoisted, and we tacked north. The NE
breeze obliged by swinging round a bit to the ENE, allowing even this old tub to
sail due north. She scraped her port gunwale on every headland between Sydney
and the Hawkesbury entrance, but we got there without a tack. A perfect sailing
day, warm with a relatively calm sea, and bright sunshine. A whale did a total
body leap and a side flop just by the boat, and I sailed through a fleet of
racing yachts without incident. Once inside the Entrance to Broken bay there was
a catermaran race to be negotiated, quite tricky in the confined bay, and they
travel so fast. Fleck must be the slowest 34 footer ever made, but I should
not complain, remember the tortoise!
We then ran up the Hawkesbury to Cowan Creek and
Refuge Bay: recomended by our neighbour at the Cruising Yacht Club as THE
anchorage on the East Australian Coast. Not bad I must admit, perfect shelter,
and steep cliffs all around. Set within a National Park, so no shoreside
developement. The bay was full of boats, and there seemed to be a system of
mooring buoys that I couldn't fathom at all. Anyway there was tons of room to
anchor, so no problem, and a lovely evening glow on the rocks as the sun dipped.
Sitting in the cockpit I became aware of something unusual. It was quiet. Quite
disconcerting. Charlie talks a lot of the time, and Mark all of the time. I fed
them books to try to control things, but only Rankin's Rebus stories had the
slightest effect. Finally you get used to it, but now this eerie silence.
Anyway, a peaceful night, in every sense.
Sunday morning and a flat calm. I started work on
some bits of teak that I bought in Sydney to control leaks under my spray
hood, as I anticipate quite a lot of beating in the next few weeks. Some
progress, but at eleven a breeze got up and with the falling tide Fleck beat
back down river to the Pittwater. A stark contrast: an open bay, packed with
motor boats, sailing boats, ferries and even seaplanes. I nearly ran
aground, but then found my way to the recomended anchorage off Palm Beach,
dropping the anchor into 10 metres of water over mud, but with quite a sea
running, and by now 25kts of wind. I put out all my chain, but did not risk
leaving the boat. Why move to such a place? The answer I am afraid to admit
is that I have bought an Aussie dongle for my computer. The coverage is
generally excellent all along the coast, so my new friends at the CYC tell me,
and all the skippers use it to get online weather forecasts for the Sydney
Hobart race, etc. There are several excellent weather services, all giving
rather different forecasts, so you can choose the weather that you want. Only
problem, no reception in Refuge Bay. Anyway the concensus is that tomorrow
there will be light wind, but at least some of it will come from the south, so
I'm off early towards Port Stevens.
Very glad that I've been into the Hawkesbury.
Broken Bay, the entrance, was spotted by Cooke in 1788, but he didn't realise
that a river stretched beyond,
navigable as far as Windsor, where we had a coffee on our Blue Mountain trip two
days ago. With no roads the waterway was an important early transport route into
the interior . You should all read The Secret River, by Kate someone or
other. It isn't a great novel, but it does capture the time and the atmosphere
of the place in those early days. Of course it is just a Sydney Suburb now, but
still a magnificent sailing area, like the Helford River in Cornwall, but I
have to admit, on a rather grander scale.