We've certainly experienced some very light winds, which tend to die away to nothing at night (another reason not to do overnight sails) so we've spent time in some interesting places waiting for wind.
Port Macquarie was one such spot. A thriving holiday town on the mouth of the Hastings River, Port, as it's known, has a little marina which allowed us to replenish water, fuel and food but we really enjoyed the quiet anchorage up the river.
|A photo of our chart-plotter - Port Macquarie is at the bottom of the picture and Maunie's river anchorage is top-left.|
|We were surprised to see this 125ft dredger being towed up river past our anchorage. There's quite a substantial shipyard upstream.|
Our pilot book, published in 2010, warned that there is often a swell surge in the harbour and that the long visitors' pier (visible in the middle of the harbour in the photo above) could be uncomfortable to moor against. However it said that it was sometimes possible to contact the Fishermen's Co-op to secure a berth on the busy fishing boat jetty on the east side.
In seven years, all has changed, we discovered. The fishing fleet (once around 30 trawlers) has gone, the visitors' pier has been condemned as unsafe and the whole place was almost deserted, with just a few holiday homes occupied. The helpful radio operator at the local Marine Rescue centre told us we could moor alongside the new unloading dock (pretty much the only sign of recent investment) and we spent three very comfortable days there, waiting for wind, doing boat jobs and exploring.
|The Crowdy Head harbour. Abandoned fisheries co-op to the left, old pier in the middle and practically-empty fishing boat pier to the right|
|Calm water in the harbour, with just one catamaran for company|
|The cute Crowdy Head lighthouse, built in 1872|
|The view down to the harbour|
|Maunie on the new wharf with expensive holiday homes behind|
|It was hot in the still air - up to 32 degrees - so Maunie sported her full complement of sunshades.|
|Sunset with some rain in those clouds|
|A present from a local fisherman - two delicious Red Snapper|
On Thursday the NE wind finally began to show signs of turning up and we had a lovely 77nm sail south to Port Stephens, a huge natural inlet that's bigger than Sydney Harbour but which has no industrial settlements, just a few little holiday towns. The Parasailor flew for about six hours and we picked up a free visitors' mooring in Salamander Bay just before dusk.
|Heading into the sunset|
|We only tow the dinghy in flat water as we have heard too many horror stories of them flipping over in big waves.|
There are lots of anchorages to explore in Port Stephens but we are watching the weather with interest. The big high pressure, mentioned in the last update, has stored up a lot of heat inland and further south and there are warnings of big thunderstorms and flooding in the state of Victoria (south of New South Wales) and the lower regions of NSW so we don't know how that might influence the timing of our plans to get to Lake Macquarie and then on to Pittwater.