Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The last leg home to Launceston, Tasmania

After arriving in Camden Haven on Friday the 4th November we anchored in the river opposite the village of North Haven. It was a short row ashore and then 100 metres from the dinghy pontoon lived Wayne's good friend and childhood neighbour Phil and his wife Cheryl.

We spent a week anchored off North Haven and enjoyed the picturesque beauty of this coastal town surrounded by bushland. In fact from seaward the only building visible was the local surf club and the man made breakwaters. It was refreshing to find this region developed within the natural bush environment. The only way to take in the ocean view was to walk or ride to the end of the breakwater or to the beach.

We explored the waterways by kayak and one afternoon spent half an hour under a bridge in the backwash of the pylons watching a mother dolphin and calf diving around catching fish. Another day we borrowed Phil's car to drive to Port Macquarie.

On the 11th November we departed with the high tide and sailed with the gentle 10 to 15 knot breeze all day and arrived off Port Stephens as the wind began building. We sailed through the passage between Tomaree and Yacaaba Heads then anchored off Jimmy's Beach, at 0200 Saturday. After a sleep in we sailed further upstream to anchor off Pindimar to explore the area via kayak over the next few days. Another couple of days were spent tied up at the public wharf at Nelsons Bay, which allowed us some extended day walks. We met a family of grey kangaroos that were in the park at the end of the main street. We also explored some bush tracks and summited Tomaree for the expansive view.

After a week of exploring Port Stephens we departed on a favourable forecast for the long day sail to Broken Bay. We arrived in the bay as the sun was setting and the anchor went down at last light near Juno Point. The next morning we motored up to the entrance of Mullet Creek near Brooklyn to sound our way over a barway on the last of the spring high tides. We made it in with just 0.2 metres of water under the keel. An hour later we dropped anchor across from Wondabyne train station in 6 metres of water. The anchor was firmly set as we planned to base ourselves here for a month or so to visit our families and Sydney friends.

Wondabyne station is on the Northern rail line and is only long enough for the rear doors of the rear carriage to pull up alongside. There is approximately one train per hour that is timetabled to stop at the station if required. The creek is more like a bay here and there are some shacks around the waterfront and a few moored boats, the shack and boat owners enjoy this waterway and surrounding national park when they visit by train or boat. We enjoyed approximately a month in Mullet Creek exploring the area by kayak as well as a few walks along the Great North Walk track. We spent many days visiting friends and relatives in Sydney and the Central Coast.

We made it out of Mullet Creek on another high spring tide and headed to Pittwater to spend a day anchored in Careel Bay.  The next day with a good weather window, we continued our voyage south. We arrived late afternoon in Wollongong Harbour then set out at 5am the next morning. The next night we anchored in Jervis Bay. Then it was a shorter voyage to Ulladulla for a night. The next stop was Twofold Bay, Eden as the weather wasn't suitable to continue across Bass Strait. Here we actually stayed for a week before getting a good weather window of more than 48 hours.

While waiting in Twofold Bay, we moved between two anchorages, Boyd Bay and Snug Cove, depending on the wind direction. We explored the Kiah River by kayak and also walked to Eden and along the foreshore tracks. We also caught up with a good friend Bob on his yacht Sylph IV who had recently returned from a multi year voyage encompassing Japan, Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexico then across the Pacific back to Australia.

The required weather window arrived at last and we set out on the 23rd December at 0200 and cleared the NSW coast by 0800. We lost sight of land in the afternoon and sailed on the gentle breeze overnight towards the northern end of Flinders Island. It wasn't until the following afternoon that we saw land just half a mile away as the fog had been getting thicker all day. We altered course to pass through Sisters Passage and again to pass along the stunning shoreline of Flinders Island in the vicinity of Mt Killiecrankie. We talked of a future plan to sea kayak around the islands of the Furneau Group.

The engine was put to use as the breeze had died to a whisper once the sun had risen on Christmas Day. We motored onward and passed the Low Head lighthouse then entered the Tamar River just as the tide turned in our favour. We had just crossed our outbound track just 6 days short of 2 years away and just over 9,300 nautical miles under our keel.

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