Winter is coming

And we are not getting north fast enough to avoid it. It was hot summer in Sydney in March but now quite cold nights and early mornings in Queensland. We have even had to get out the duvet (for the bed). But some lovely sunny days, beautiful sunsets and it is still possible to swim in the sea – so long as you keep moving that is (or wear a wetsuit). Called in Mooloobala, Fraser Is, Bundaberg.

Now underway at night hoping to stop at Lady Musgrave Island, the southern start of the barrier reef.

*have started eating porridge for breakfast.

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Australian wildlife

I think I remember Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” ( or maybe it was Clive James?) starts off saying that “Australians delight in telling you about all the the things in their country that can maim and kill you”. This is true, folk seem to enjoy warning you about sharks, crocodiles, spiders, snakes, killer jellyfish, dingos, even kangaroos. The male platypus apparently has highly poisonous barbs on his hind legs. But when a friend reported that someone told them that Koalas were dangerous – well that’s crazy. Anyhow we spent yesterday at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary up the river from Brisbane. As well as lots of lovely Koalas (that are without exception impossibly cute) we saw dingos, kangaroos, platypus, Tasmanian devil, a very sleepy wombat, various lizards, various birds including a tame white bellied sea eagle and some owls, the only creatures that did not show themselves were the crocodiles. The Koalas were either sleeping or eating eucalyptus.

Hoping to carry on North tomorrow.

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Gold Coast and New Generator

From Coffs we sailed overnight to Gold Coast Seaway still in company with Mischief. A reasonable amount of wind for the trip, but still a lot of current against us, Timshel rushing along at top speed but only making 4 or 5 knots over the ground. We had hoped to go direct to Runaway Bay Marina to get the new generator fitted, but there was a delay on the fitting so we anchored for a few days, in fact it was all very slow and the generator was not put in until the Monday and not running until the Tuesday. Luckily it did fit and seems to be running OK now. We left the marina to anchor at Tipplers Passage for the night and ran the generator and recommissioned the watermaker which is what we really need the 230 volt supply for. A pleasant place with kangaroos on the beach, also sea eagles, pelicans and saw a ray jump out of the water on the way over. Left very early the next morning to get the tide and wend our way through the narrow shallow channels between the mangrove covered islands of South Moreton Bay. I think we had 0.5m under the keel at the shallowest point, so best not done at low water. Now at anchor at Coochiemudlo island (another outlandish name), to run the watermaker again, going to Manly near Brisbane tomorrow.

Heading north

Slow progress, it seems to be more difficult to go in this direction – the unfavourable current (EAC going south) is likely to kick up a big sea when you have a favourable wind (from the south) against it. Sailing in company with Lynne and Andrew on Mischief we went from Broken Bay briefly to Newcastle then to Port Stephens where we spent some lazy days moored in Fame Cove, beautiful, perfect shelter and difficult to leave. Also regularly visited by dolphins and Sea Eagles.

Then an overnight trip (rather slow due to the adverse current but with a beautiful full moon) up to Coffs Harbour where we moored in the marina – technically we are in Coffs Harbour Harbour as the town is actually called Coffs Harbour. A few days were spent here to wait for northerly winds to pass through. But lovely weather and the marina is a bit like an aquarium, clear water and so many fish, butterfly fish, rays, dense schools of sprats swirling around and hunted by cormorants and bigger fish. On Mutton Bird Island (now linked by the harbour wall causeway) saw a Fairy wren and Mutton bird chicks (shearwaters), that are about to set off to sea.

Sydney and back

We went down to Sydney again for a few days. Managed to buy the paper charts for the rest of our trip; Sally at Boat Books Australia was very helpful in sorting our list. As a major chart agent they have a licence to print Admiralty Charts, so we could take away all the ones we needed. We also had an enjoyable day at the zoo; the animals are mostly in large natural enclosures – but sometimes this makes them hard to see. It was strange being at anchor at Blackwattle Bay looking at the skyscrapers and the traffic going past and all the bustle of the city. We then spent a night at Manly – more like being at the seaside, before heading back up to Broken Bay. We are now heading north up the NSW Coast in company with Mischief. So far the dreaded EAC (East Australian current), that sweeps south at up top 4 knots in places, has not made itself felt, but it can make for slow passages northwards.

From Newcastle South to Broken Bay

Managed to tear ourselves away from Newcastle at last. We were very impressed with the work carried out by the MidCoast Boatyard and friendly help we received from everyone in the yard, including Brad the manager and Joe the owner who also looked after Timshel while we were away. We are also grateful for the generosity and help by the NCYC marina and also the Fisherman’s Co-op for giving us a berth for the 3 months we were home. E Coast Sails did a lot of work on the rig and sails so hopefully we are now set up for the next Ocean. They also generously let us borrow their big glue machine to stick up the forecabin headlining (again).

Saw lots of Dolphins on our way south and arrived at Broken Bay, which is the yachting Mecca just north of Sydney in time for Easter. We rendezvoused with Lynne and Andrew on Mischief (whom we met last year in Bundeberg), and spent some days in their company. We explored some of the remote and sheltered creeks that wind their way through the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. Following their lead we took the dinghies up towards the head of peaceful Smiths Creek to admire the birds and fish and beautiful scenery. They also invited us to a weekend ” Sailaway” meet of the Coastal Cruising Club of Australia held in a bay called Coasters Retreat where we met lots of friendly fellow sailors.

And the weather is hot and sunny.

Still in Newcastle

We’ve been working hard on the boat. The mast is back in, but some work still to be done – new halyard and new clutch, still a lot of things to put back together. Timshel does look clean and shiny, at least outside, and Steve is busy re-varnishing the cockpit table. It is very hot.

Anita showed off Scottish colours for the local 5k Park Run.