2019 Aus Smoky Hills to Newcastle
Two Hundred Smoky Miles to Newcastle
We picked up that fine favourable current just three miles off the coast but even that close in the coast was not visible as we passed the ironically named Smoky Cape. Flocks of hundreds of shearwater were gathered together around us, having recently returned from the Philippines in their annual migration and were now choosing their partner before proceeding to the coast and their regular burrows to mate and lay their eggs. For a while our skies were blue and the winds light.
The cargo ship Pioneer appeared to be doing a slalom of course changes as she approached our stern and awaiting her appearance through the haze was a protracted affair because she was doing 14.6 knots under engine while were doing 10.2 knots under sail. That current was reaching its predicted max of 4 knots.
Later, during the night the wind bucked up to 28 – 32 knots, a near gale and Zoonie was reefed right down and manageable.
Dolphins appeared in the hours of darkness and torpedoed underneath Zoonie and all around her bow creating tunnels of pale green and alarming the phosphorescence into spots of brilliant light. That was such a pleasure to watch as we haven’t really seen this behaviour since the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and Portugal back in 2015. Two sped away into the darkness on a collision course of two pale green tubes. I couldn’t see what happened but heard them both fly out of the water and splash back in, whether in surprise or fun I’m not sure.
A Fuchsia sun and smoke filled air greeted the next day. Our clothes reek, or is it the permanent stench in our nostrils or both; Australia really is burning big time and has been for weeks. Winds that spin around the compass don’t help and send the flames in all directions making fire-fighting even more hazardous.
This time Zoonie made a teatime entry to her destination of Newcastle and again we had telephoned ahead and knew the number and location of our berth. Terns and gulls were having their tea as we came in to this major industrial port and tied up in berth number A3 at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, our home for the next fortnight.