It’s a long walk from Coffs Harbor to the grocery store. Come to think if it, it’s a long splashy ride in Cat Nip from out in Coffs rolly anchorage into the inner harbor dinghy dock, but the saving grace is that there’s ice cream waiting at the waterfront. This marina was destroyed last year in a storm so it was a surprise to see almost everything shipshape. While trekking to the grocery store every day, we even found a nice river walk path just to break it up a little bit.
Once again we Escapees found ourselves waiting for a little decent weather. One rainy afternoon we noticed an unusual number of racy sailboats entering the harbor. Soon we were surrounded by sailboats, maneuvering all around us. Turns out we were being used as a start marker for a sailboat race. Fun but scary.
Finally, on an overcast rainy morning we left Coffs Harbor for Broken Bay, just north of Sydney a couple hundred miles away.
Thinking back on it, what I picture about Coffs Harbor is 100 percent cloud cover with rain and no desire to even try to leave the boat. At least it wasn’t a Friday but the seas were still nasty and our mainsail woes are still with us. We made landfall in another patented Escape Velocity midnight arrival after two days mostly motor sailing. We tucked in behind something the Aussies call Barren Joey Head just around back of an old lighthouse high above on the headland, to wait for morning.
We’re down one iPad already and our trusty old C-80 Raymarine chart plotter has a failing screen and it has decided that it would rather not have to read the Australian chart so what you get is a collection of trapezoid shaped land masses under what can only be called a blurry stained looking screen with some blank spots. This leaves us with our old iPad 2 holding up things navigational and doing double duty with Marce’s heavy domestic needs as well.
In the morning, coffee in hand, I went out into the cockpit to see where we were. When you anchor in the dark it’s always a surprise to see where you ended up and I’m not suggesting that you ever do anything this stupid but it’s kind of the only good thing about entering a harbor and anchoring in the dark. It was right about then that I noticed a cute motorboat heading straight toward us. Turns out it was our old friend Sherm whom we first met in Opua, New Zealand. What are the odds? Turns out Sherm and his wife live here in Pittwater and they were half of our official welcoming committee.
The other half of our welcome crew, Di and Bruce of Toucan, finagled a mooring for us about an hour up the bay. Things may be looking up. Pittwater is really beautiful and we slid past what seemed like several thousand sailboats, tied up to our mooring ball, and paid the man.
Heron Cove has several redeeming features beside excellent protection from weather, our mooring, and a sand spit that uncovers every day where people sun bathe and play with their dogs. Now, I don’t know who invented the thong bathing suit, if you can call it a suit, but it sure is popular down here with the young women who compete for the tiniest version. Yep, things are looking up.
Bruce on Toucan found a replacement C-80 chart plotter for a song. Things are really looking up. After a round or two of nautical holiday get togethers with the Toucs, and a long-awaited family reunion on Escape Velocity even the weather seemed like it was calming down out in the ocean and it was time to make the final dash to Sydney.
This time we left bathed in sunshine for a change, saying goodbye to Toucan who armed us with an Aussie study guide, and motor-sailed south.
The used but nearly new chart plotter worked perfectly with bright, bold, and clear colors on the screen. What a difference! Bouncy but benign by Pacific standards the sea showed us a little mercy and we even timed the 20 mile trip to arrive in the daylight for a change. I say 20 miles from Barren Joey Headland to North Headland but anchor to anchor it was about 30 miles. The last five miles is where this story lies.
As we rounded North Head — is there a more famous headland? — the wind picked up considerably and we decided to douse the jib knowing that maneuverability would be paramount in Sydney’s crowded harbor. Right away a half dozen Hobart super maxi racing sleds and a few of Sydney’s famous ferries were apparently sent out to greet us. We instinctively went into New York Harbor mode, which has served us well in the past. Marce called out threats and I played dodge-’em with little runabouts, jet skis, carbon fiber Super Maxi racing sleds, double decker ferries, pontoon patios, super yachts, kayakers, and I’m sure I’m missing a few.
I managed to cross the traffic stream to hug Bradley’s Head and that’s when the Icons of Icons hove into view. The Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House. We finally made it. We still had to wind our way through a very narrow railroad swing bridge and then under the lyre-like ANZAC Bridge into a backwater anchorage called Blackwattle Bay with the skyline of Sydney laid out before us. Magnificent.
Anchor down, drinks all around. Things are definitely looking up.