Coffs Harbour to Sydney for New Year 33:50.9S, 151:14.55E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sat 31 Dec 2022 04:50

Since entering Australia at Bundaberg we’d sailed about 350 miles south to Coffs Harbour. It was another 240 miles or so to Sydney where we want to be for New Years Eve. Not difficult in 18 days but southerly winds, very strong at times,  kept us in the Marina and we were pleased to be there. We watched the boats in the outer harbour rolling in the swell coming in through the entrance. This stop did give us time to explore the riverside and coastal walks and gave time to open an Aussie bank account. We found it very useful to have a local account when in New Zealand and were intent on having one here.  Its much easier to move reasonably large sums across from UK and then use a local debit card.

240 miles to Sydney in two legs. Port Stephens was our stop over.

22nd December saw us heading south with a number of other yachts that had been waiting. It would be just over a days sailing to reach Port Stephens and with the wind behind us most of the way. We entered the harbour against the ebb tide but with no real bar to cross and light winds this was okay. In Shoal Bay, just inside the entrance, we moored to an available public mooring buoy. These buoys are provided by the state and can be used by boats less than 20 tons for 24 hours, they save damage to the seagrass and seabed caused by anchoring. While we were in Port Stephens we used public buoys every night.

Shoal Bay from Tomaree Head where we walked with Bernd from Rebell.

Christmas Eve we walked up Tomaree head for some exercise and to look out at the bays we had passed on the way in. Fingal Bay looked to be a good anchorage protected from the north by Mt Stephen and a sand bar which joins it to the mainland.

View from Tomaree Head out to Mt Jackson and Fingal Bay beyond the Sand Bar

We moved up to Fame Cove for the night. Shoal Bay had been very noisy with motor boats and jet skis and it was good to find a quiet spot where the noisiest things were the Kookaburra’s laughing in the trees ashore. We spent two nights on the mooring here as there didn’t seem to be any pressure to move off, explored up the creek by dinghy and had our Christmas dinner of Honey Glazed Tofu marinaded in Sesame and Soy.

Sunset from Fame Cove

We moved back down harbour on Boxing Day in preparation for leaving. Bernd in Rebell had moved out to Fingal Bay and extolled its virtues and we went out to join him in the morning.

Rebell in Fingal Bay

It was only 80 miles to go to Sydney, too much to do in daylight but by leaving late afternoon with a following wind we would be down by dawn. This is what we did and with the Genoa poled out to catch the wind we maintained over 6 knots most of the way arriving off Quarantine Head just after sunrise

Quarantine Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour

Inside the Head we went toward Manly and anchored in Little Manly Cove not realising what the day would be like. This was a popular anchorage for boats of all sizes from superyachts to BBQ boats (a platform with outboard engine seating and a BBQ). These were coming and going swinging very close but with a shift in the wind coming there was no way we would consider staying overnight. We moved to Manly itself knowing that when the wind swung from north to south at 5.00 in the morning we would want to be off again.

We were woken at 5.00 by the southerly arriving as forecast so lifted the anchor and motored round the corner to Balmoral Beach. This was so sheltered that there were people long distance swimming and lots of canoes and paddleboards about. We went for a walk ashore to have a look further up the harbour and to do some shopping.

Sulphur Headed Cockatoo, they live in the trees around Balmoral.

Gun emplacements at Georges Head cover the entrance to Sydney Harbour

Today we have moved further into the harbour and are anchored in Athol Bay about two miles from the Bridge and Opera House ready for tomorrow nights celebrations. They start at 7.00 and go on till the fireworks at midnight.

Our view of the Bridge and Opera House.