Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We are currently in Broken Bay, we sailed up yesterday. I use that term lightly, we actually motored all the way. We left Port Stephens in dense fog, that is the first time we have experienced that since we have left Canada. Fortunately our radar worked fine and we had no problems, it was a bit eerie, but Barry was steering and I was down below watching the chart plotter and the radar making sure he stayed on the right track. Once he was on the right track I would let him know and he would take a compass heading and then steer that course until it was time to turn. It is difficult to maintain a position when you have no reference points. It was 0500 in order to catch the tide so there were not too many boats to contend with.
The winds were very light and directly on our nose so we fired up the motor. The winds eventually came around behind us but by that time we were racing the light to get here before dark so although we had both sails up we kept motoring. Our new auto pilot (Otto) did a yeoman’s job steering all the way without a problem, maybe he was worth it after all!
We explored around Port Stephens before we left. We hopped on a local bus (much more reasonable here at $2.00 a piece) and went out to Tomaree Head, that guards the south entrance to Port Stephens. There was a great path up to the top with terrific views as your reward for the climb. The Tomaree guns were installed in 1942, it felt rather like déjà vu, the structures were very similar to the ones we clambered around on the north end of Vancouver Island. It was interesting to reflect that both guns were built to repel the same enemy, yet they were oceans apart.
There were some large sand dunes about 20 km south of Nelson Bay which I wanted to see so we got back on the bus. Barry’s ankle had had it by now so he took some pictures at the beginnings of the dunes and I hiked up and down a few, until all I could see was sand. I was prepared for soft mushy sand but it was pretty hard packed and was easy walking. Apparently there are camels that you can ride over the dunes but we didn’t have the time to explore that possibility. I found a few beer bottles buried in the sands and picked them up in my effort to clean up the planet. I rather wished one was full because it was hot dusty work trudging around those dunes.
Broken Bay is a another huge area. There are several rivers that empty into the bay, the Hawkebury being the most well known. Brisbane Waters is another spot that is in the north part of the bay, which is where we are headed today. We are planning to have dinner on Friday night with friends we met in Tahiti. Pittwater Bay has a couple of large yacht clubs at it’s southern end and we could see hundreds of boats moored down there as we passed by it’s entrance last night and sails were gleaming in the dying light as about a dozen boats raced across the bay. School is out for about a month’s holiday today so I am sure the area will fill up with folks on their Christmas holidays very soon.