Coffs Harbour

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 16 May 2021 02:51
Position: 30 18.45 S 153 08.78 E
At anchor Coffs Harbour
Wind: SSW, F5 Sea: calm Swell: E, 1 meters
Weather: sunny, mild
Day’s Run: 74 nm

We have arrived.

I was expecting a bit of wind last night but got more than I had bargained for. We had been motoring for much of the afternoon, getting some charge in the batteries as well as making more comfortable progress in the light winds but heavy swell. I had reduced sail down to a reefed main and the staysail so as to reduce our rolling but also so as not to wear the sails excessively due to slatting. Which was perhaps just as well because at around 2000 a band of cloud passed over, the remnants of a frontal system I presume and then the wind started to increase rapidly. By 2300 we were once more down to three reefs in the main and just the staysail. This seemed a good combination. We were laying the rhumb line for Coffs Harbour, making good a course just north of west, and were reasonably comfortable jogging along at three to four knots.

Around midnight we were approaching the Australian coast which we had sighted earlier at 1655. I tacked so that we were on a SE’ly heading, making a bit of ground to windward which was useful. As general rule, it is never a good idea to end up down wind of one’s desired destination, especially if the wind is picking up.

At 0500 we were getting back into the shipping lanes and Sylph was being threatened by two north bound merchant ships. I shone my searchlight at the closest ship to ensure he had seen us and was gratified to see the vessel make a small but noticeable turn to starboard on AIS. I then tacked back into land to open the range a bit further and to get clear of the shipping lane but was perhaps a bit premature. Unfortunately tacking was a bit premature as now the second ship was on a collision course. Once again I shone my spotlight in his direction to make sure that we had been seen, But nothing happened. After my experience in the Korean Strait, merchant ships In this instance I did not want to tack again as if he altered course to starboard to avoid me at the same time, which is what I expected him to do, I would only create another problem. Eventually I called him on VHF and pointed out to the vessel where I was and asked him to alter course hard to starboard Now! This seemed to do the trick and moments later I saw his aspect alter presenting his port side light instead a fine starboard bow aspect. Relief!

Come mid forenoon, we were once again approaching Coffs Harbour. Conditions were forecast to moderate during the day but I would rather be at anchor catching up on some sleep than spending another night at sea dodging merchant ships while going nowhere in particular. So I sent some emails off this morning requesting whether I could go to anchor for the night. I later spoke with Volunteer Marine Rescue – Coffs Harbour to get a weather update and the operator advised me that Peter from Déjà Vu had been in to see her and explained my situation. She very kindly managed to get permission from Australian Border Force in Sydney for me to anchor in the outer harbour with the usual Q flag flying. I assume that because Coffs Harbour is a relatively small outpost, there is no one on duty over the weekend.

So we have now come to anchor in the outer harbour of Coffs Harbour. It is a little rolly with the swell wrapping around in through the breakwaters but it still going to be a lot more comfortable then spending another night at sea, especially when close in to the coast with a lot more shipping to watch out for.

Thank you Peter and thank you VMR Coffs Harbour.

(Hopefully all the above mostly makes sense - I am wee bit tired. Might have a little nap.)

All is well.