Return to Coffs
Friday 20th May 2016
Distance run: 162 nmiles
We slipped the buoy at 0630 yesterday and headed out of Shoal Bay, stopping long enough to put up the mainsail. Once out of the main entrance to Port Stephens, we unfurled the genoa, killed the engine and creamed along at 7-8 knots in 15-25 knots of wind over the port quarter. This is what we had waited for, a decent wind to take us the 160 nmiles or so to Coffs Harbour.
Four hours later we had covered the 30 nmiles to Seal Rocks, and we changed course to head up the coast, anticipating the extra speed we would get from the wind moving round to the beam. With a westerly wind blowing off the shore, we had excellent sailing conditions with calm seas and a fresh wind and we stonked along, beginning to wonder if we might even arrive at Coffs before dawn.
Within an hour of rounding Seal Rocks, however, the wind began to die and our speed gradually dropped away. No matter, we were still making reasonable time... until, that is, we met the south-going current that we had so enjoyed riding on the way down. We were no more than 5 nmiles off the coast and had hoped to avoid the worst of this current, but it seemed we would need to get closer inshore to do so. As that would add distance, we decided it wouldn’t be enough of an advantage, so didn’t take that option.
When our speed over the ground went below 4 knots we put the engine on and motorsailed. And that’s pretty much what we had to do for the rest of the passage, unless we wanted to spend a second night at sea. Having waited four days for wind, we actually ended up motoring for 22 of the 31.5 hour passage. Such is sailing. Can’t complain though – rather too little wind than too much!
On the plus side, it was a very comfortable passage and without the cold southerly wind, the weather was pleasantly warm and the sun shone in a cloudless sky both days. Overnight we had an almost full moon which gave us light for all but the last hour before dawn, and during that hour of darkness the sky was so full of stars and planets it was breathtaking.
We tied up in Coffs Harbour marina at 1400 today, and the excitement and sense of achievement we felt when we arrived here last November came flooding back. This is where we first set foot on Australian soil, and it will always be a special place for us because of that. We hope to see a bit more of it this time.