Saturday dawned overcast and the weather forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. It would be Peter’s last day on Cordalga, he had other commitments and needed to get home. Geoff had planned to leave the Gold Coast but with the weather the way it was, Cordalga couldn’t go anywhere.
Before leaving a good friend, Debbie, invited us around for dinner. It was a great evening with much laughter, good food and good wine. Thanks for having us Debbie!
The trip so far in numbers:
Days since departure: 18
Distance covered: 873 NM
Total time: 129 Hours
Overnight passages: 2
Before Peter left he did take a picture of his next boat. He is off to start a GoFundMe page to pay for it.
Thanks Geoff and Glenn for letting me be part of this adventure!
“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” These are the actual words used by Jack Swigert during the Apollo 13 spaceflight. Hollywood changed them to the now popular ‘Houston, we have a problem’ for the movie. We too can now say ‘We’ve had a problem here’. Another one.
The weather on Tuesday was anything but ideal for a journey out at sea and Cordalga remained firmly tied up to the public boardwalk outside the RSL for the day. During the course of the afternoon Geoff descended into the black hole to do the normal pre-trip checks during the course of which he attempted to start the engine. You did notice the use of the word ‘attempted’. For some or other reason the batteries were dead. It didn’t make sense. Everything had been fine the day before and the batteries had never given any trouble. A flurry of calls ensued between Geoff and Glenn and Glenn arranged for an electrician to come and look at the problem.
The electrician’s view was that many of the leads were old and corroded and needed to be replaced. New parts were made and fitted and we spent a few hours cruising up and down the river charging the batteries. I’m sure some of locals thought we were lost as we cruised up and down going nowhere in particular.
The plan was for an early start on Thursday – up at 03H30 for a 04H30 departure. Once the obligatory early morning coffees had been consumed, Geoff attempted to start the engine – yes, there it is, the ‘attempted’ word again. Zero, zilch, zip, nada, nothing! The batteries were again dead. Geoff tried a few things but eventually gave up and it was back to bed. I’m sure the electrician would have been unimpressed if we had called him at that time in the morning.
The electrician was back on the boat by 08H00 and got the motor going. There was a technical explanation for what had happened but it went way over our heads. And so, by 09H00 we were on our way again. Headed for the Gold Coast.
The bar crossing proved to be an interesting experience. There were some waves breaking over the bar and as we powered through the water Cordalga’s bow would soar high into the air and you just know what goes up must come down – and it did with a great deal of force. Everything that wasn’t firmly bolted down in the wheelhouse went flying in all directions and there were a few tense minutes as we powered through the breaking waves. Geoff made the comment, ‘we may not be laughing at these conditions but Cordalga is, she spent most of her life in Bass Straight and has dealt with much worse’. Sure enough, she never missed a beat and we cleared the bar and then tidied up the wheelhouse. The Skipper even had to change – he was standing in the doorway when a wave came crashing over and gave him an unexpected shower.
The wind and swell on the trip to the Gold coast were from the south which meant that we had a following sea which was great. For most of the journey we were at over 7 knots. We had thought we might arrive at the Gold Coast at about 22H00 but by 18H00 we were tied up to a swing mooring and enjoying the scenery. We had covered 75 nautical miles in 10 hours. For those who don’t know, a nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth, and is equal to one minute of latitude. A nautical mile is 1.852 km.
On Friday morning we booked a pen at the Southport Yacht Club to do some laundry and general housekeeping.
By Friday night the Skipper was ‘at 95%’ and we were back in business. We had planned another early start on Saturday, up at 03H30 for a 04H00 departure. When the alarm went off at 03H30 the wind was howling and Geoff couldn’t get a clear picture of the bar conditions from the Bar Cam. We decided to wait until we were sure we could cross the bar safely and so it was back to bed for a couple of hours. When the alarm went off at 05H30 the wind had dropped and Geoff was happy with conditions over the bar. These Bar Cams are remarkable! The conditions at sea were fairly good despite it being overcast and drizzly and we made good time to Coffs Harbour arriving at 17H30. We had covered 78 miles in 12 hours.
We tied up at the fuel wharf and then went off to the local fisherman’s co-op to get dinner. Did I just say we tied up at the fuel wharf? We would never do that if there are clear signs saying we aren’t allowed to! Even if we were just going to be there for a few hours before another early departure. Besides, the ‘fine’ for tying up at the fuel wharf overnight was $110, we could stay at a luxury marina for that price. We’re not bad boys, well not entirely.
Geoff has now affectionately termed the engine compartment ‘the black hole’ and he descended into the black hole to check the oil levels.
It was another early start on Sunday – this time the alarm went off at 01H30. At this rate, we’re not even sure why we go to bed at all. We were all set to leave at 02H00 when all of a sudden it was 03H00. It took a few minutes for us to figure out that daylight saving had started and that accounted for the lost hour. So much for the really early start. It would be a relatively easy run to Yamba, 68 miles in 10 hours. We arrived in Yamba just after 13H00 and the Skipper gave us the afternoon off.
Geoff has his boat at Yamba. It is waiting for him to finish with the deliveries so that it too can get some attention.
I think someone needs to arrange a sausage sizzle or two for these chaps, they’re not going to be doing much rescuing in this boat.
There is an old adage among sailors which I think applies equally to those who have power driven vessels – or ‘stinkies’ as Geoff affectionately refers to them. There are two kinds of sailors – those who have run aground and those who lie.
We left Yamba early on Monday morning – up at 01H00 for a 02H00 departure. To get from the marina to open sea would require us navigating a fairly large stretch of inland water which is in places very shallow and not well lit at night. How do I know it is shallow and not well lit at night? Funny you should ask that, I know because we got stuck, not once, but twice. Fortunately on both occasions we were moving very slowly but even so we still got stuck. Our timing was pretty good though, the tide was coming in and within about 15 minutes on each occasion there was enough water to get us floating again. It took us two hours to navigate the passage to open sea. The Skipper’s sense of humour was starting to fail towards the end.
For the first 4 hours conditions were good and we were making just under 7 knots. Conditions changed fairly rapidly mid-morning and suddenly we were down to just over 4 knots in a bumpy sea. Geoff arranged a conference call with Glenn and it was decided that, rather than push ahead and put an unnecessary strain on the engine, we would head for Ballina. There was also a wind warning for Tuesday and we could wait in Ballina until the weather improved. We arrived in Ballina at 12H00 and tied up at the public boardwalk just outside the local RSL.
It was a stunning day and also happened to be a public holiday and the river was teeming with locals who were enjoying the river on their day off. Another great place to be stuck waiting for the weather to improve. The plan is to spend Tuesday in Ballina and head for the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
We’re getting used to these early mornings. It was up at 03H00 again on Thursday for a 04H00 departure from Nelson Bay headed for Port Macquarie. During the routine engine checks the previous day, Geoff noticed that the engine oil level was low which was a bit of a concern. The previous run to Nelson Bay had been a fairly long hard run and it may just be that the engine had used more oil than normal during this run. Just to be on the safe side we would run the engine for about 4 or 5 hours and then check the engine oil level again.
After about 5 hours we stopped the engine off Elizabeth Beach and Geoff went down to check the oil level. It was normal and after a quick chat to Glenn we were off again. The conditions during the morning were lovely with us making 7 and a half knots in calm seas. The conditions turned in the early afternoon with the result that our speed reduced to 5 and a half knots. We did see a few whales with some of them fairly close.
We had purposely left early to arrive at Port Macquarie in the late afternoon during daylight hours. There is a bar crossing to get to Port Macquarie and, whilst Geoff has done this bar crossing many times, crossing a bar at night is never easy.
With the stop at Elizabeth Beach and the reduced speed we would only be arriving in Port Macquarie at about 19H30. Fortunately the bar crossing and moving through the channel in the dark went well and by 20H00 we were on a mooring ball in Port Macquarie. It was a very relieved and somewhat tired Skipper once we were tied up. We had covered 107 miles in a little over 16 hours.
We had planned to have a short stop in Port Macquarie and then have an early start on Friday for a day trip to Koffs Harbour followed by an early start and another day trip to Yamba on Saturday. Shortly after we arrived in Port Macquarie Geoff started felling unwell and when the alarm went off at 03H00 on Friday morning he wasn’t feeling any better so we have decided to have a rest day in Port Macquarie.
There are worse places to have a rest day.
And finally, what exactly I hear you ask, is this piece of high tech space age equipment. It’s one of those ‘if you have to ask, you don’t want to know questions’. Cordalga was a working boat so there was no space for flushing toilets with heated seats. There are however times when this item is being used that the views are great.
With a bit of luck the Skipper will feel better on Saturday morning and we can be on our way. Weather permitting of course.
In addition to the vibration causing Glenn to have a very cold swim in Narooma, while doing a routine check, the engine suddenly overheated. Finding the problem proved elusive, resulting in Glenn having to disassemble and reassemble the entire cooling system. There was no apparent cause for the overheating but the problem disappeared.
The initial plan was to head for Sydney on Sunday morning and drop Glenn off in Sydney in the evening so that he could get a flight back to Airlie Beach. The weather turned a little nasty and made things a little uncomfortable on Cordalga. Rather than have a long uncomfortable trip, it was decided that we would head for Ulladulla. We arrived early in the evening and tied up to a wharf with Glenn deciding that he had had enough of Geoff’s cooking and heading off to ALDI to get some meat and fresh vegetable to cook dinner. We had travelled a distance of 57 miles in 8 hours.
No sooner had he left than the fishing boat whose spot we were in arrived and threw us out – we could tie up next to them. It was a baptism of fire for Geoff, the space within which to manoeuvre was very limited but, to his credit, Geoff nailed it like the professional that he is.
It was an early start on Monday – up at 03H30 for a 04H00 departure. It would be a long haul to Sydney with an estimated arrival time of somewhere between 20H00 and 21H00. The weather again had other plans. The wind and swell again picked up making things uncomfortable and it was decided that we would head for Huskisson in Jervis Bay. Glenn decided that he would leave us at Huskisson and make his way to Sydney to get a flight to Airlie Beach.
And so it was time to say farewell to Glenn. There is no wharf in Huskisson and we tied up to a mooring ball and launched the tender to get Glenn ashore.
With Glenn safely ashore, we decided that we would head to Wollongong and overnight there. We got as far as the entrance to Jervis Bay and it was clear the conditions out at sea had worsened and Geoff decided that we would head back to Huskisson, pick up the mooring ball and spend the night in Huskisson. We had covered 43 miles in 6 and a half hours.
It was another early start on Tuesday – up at 03H00 for a 03H30 departure. The weather forecast was good and we were going to try and make Nelson Bay in Port Stephens. It would be an overnight passage taking about 30 hours if all went well. With only two of us on board, we would have 4 hourly shifts and it would be important to get as much sleep as possible between shifts. The journey on Tuesday during the day was fairly uneventful with us making about 7 knots for most of the day.
During the early evening the wind and swell changed and we got knocked around for most of the night. Our speed decreased from 7 to 5 knots and, even with Cordalga’s high bow, we still had waves crashing over the bow and flooding the deck. To make matters even more interesting the bilge pump light stayed on which either meant that we were being flooded or the bilge pump was faulty. In between us being knocked around, Geoff descended into the engine bay to find out what the problem was. We fortunately weren’t being flooded and put it down to a fault on the bilge pump which we subsequently discovered was the cause.
It was a fairly tired crew once we arrived at D’Albora Marinas in Nelson Bay but before we could have much needed showers we would have to fill up with fuel. We put 1 153 litres of fuel in the two tanks. The trip from Huskisson in Jervis Bay to Nelson Bay in Port Stephens had taken 28 hours and we had covered 192 miles.
In numbers, the trip so far looks like this:
Days since departure : 8
Distance travelled : 495 miles
Hours at sea : 71 hours
Overnight passages : 2