Easter in Port Stephens

Tue 29 Mar 2016 04:24
32:41.046S 152:03.682E

These fishermen can’t pick and choose their weather. Perhaps we’re wimps.

Remember how I told you what a lovely sail we had up to Broken Bay? Well, the next day’s sail wasn’t so nice. It was raining and the wind was from the South so it was COLD, well, cold for us, the boots and fleeces and oilskins had to come out. On top of that there was quite a big choppy swell, so it was not comfortable. “I’m not enjoying this” Phil said, sat on the edge of the bridge deck, shoulders hunched against the wind and rain. We decided to cut it short and popped into Newcastle for a couple of days, then, once the seas had died down and the sun had come back out again, we set off up around Fingal Point to Port Stephens. 

Rounding Fingal Point to go into Port Stephens. The hill in the middle is Tomaree Head.

Tomaree Head guarding the entrance with it’s distinctive cleft.

The swell wasn’t large and there’s no real bar so we didn’t wait for the tide to rise but entered as it was in mid springs flow, against the incoming swell. Phil told me that it made steering a little hairy as the current swirled us to port and starboard whilst he negotiated the channel. I couldn’t tell you, I didn’t take a turn at the helm, being somewhat preoccupied by the pod of six bottlenose dolphins that were bow riding in with us.

One was very distinctive, we named him Stumpy, as he’d lost a good part of his dorsal fin. We saw many dolphins over the next few days in Port Stephens and noticed lots of damage to dorsal fins and backs. Some had very ragged fins, one had his still joined on but knocked over sideways, another had a distinctive notch in his backbone, near his tail. Too many close encounters with motor boat propellers travelling at speed we thought. 


We anchored in Fame Cove, in 6m of good sticky mud, as we’d found it such a lovely place last time we were there. 

The shore in Fame Cove, with eucalyptus trees looking rather Tolkienesque I thought.

Being Easter weekend it was much busier than last time, with boats coming and going all the time. But a number of motor boats with local folk, mums and dads, grandparents and grandchildren, friends and neighbours, stayed the whole weekend, rafting up on the moorings. The kids had lovely adventures exploring the shore, playing in kayaks, sleeping out on deck, the adults took their tenders fishing or checked on the crab pots (blue swimmer crabs - very beautiful) they’d set, in between watching the world go by or doing a few repairs on board. Arthur and Sandra were particularly welcoming, bring us whiting and rock oysters, stopping by to say hello. We were able to share Somerset Easter biscuits with them, still warm from the oven (thanks for the recipe Janis), not quite in the same league but appreciated non the less!

Arthur’s shot of Lochmarin against the sunset.

It wasn’t just the people and boats we were watching. During the day dolphins were in the bay for more time than they weren’t (who knows, perhaps at night too. Dolphins only sleep with one side of their brain at a time. They may have been sleep swimming around us). A pod of about a dozen would visit for a while but more often it would be a mother and her calf, fishing, playing, just hanging out.

In addition to the Whip Birds, Parrots and Kookaburras that we heard around us (plus many more we couldn’t identify), and the White Faced Herons, Cormorants and Terns that flew by, three White Bellied Sea Eagles were around most days. We saw them first perched in a tree as we kayaked up the creek, not 30 yards from us, then we’d often see them in the afternoons riding the thermals above the trees.


White Bellied Sea Eagles.

A pair of Black Swans lived further up the creek also, quite different to the white swans we’re familiar with, more slender and with wonderfully impressive ruffles on their backs!

We were in Farm Cove to wait for the wind to turn back Southerly so we could continue on our way. I wish ‘Waiting On Weather” was always like this!