Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

R&R in Yamba

Sydney Harbour bade farewell to us in some style on Wednesday night. Just as we’d gone ashore into Manly to get final provisions from the supermarket, the sky turned suddenly to an inky black (at about 5.00pm), there was a VERY loud clap of thunder and then the ‘southerly buster’ storm arrived.  Horizontal bullets of rain scattered pedestrians into whatever shelter they could find and the wind howled through the pine trees along the esplanade. Thankfully, we’d moved Maunie onto one of the very good courtesy moorings just off the beach, otherwise we’d have worried about her dragging her anchor, so we took shelter as best we could in the nearest available place – which just happened to be the Bavarian bar at the wharf. Our timing was perfect – it was Happy Hour so wine and beers were $5 a glass.

As abruptly as it had arrived, the storm departed and, after emptying our glasses of alcohol and then the beached dinghy of several gallons of rainwater, we made it back to Maunie to get her ready for our sail north at first light the following day; dinghy deflated and packed away on the foredeck and loose items stowed below decks.

The 306nm passage was pretty good in terms of speed, to our surprise. We had fast downwind sailing for the first 20 hours or so and then had to do a fair amount of motor-sailing as the wind dropped to less than 10 knots. We managed to dodge the worst of the 2 knot southerly current that had been such a bonus when we were sailing towards Sydney in December, by dint of steering as close to the coastline as we dared; to our delight, we even found some back-eddies where the current was pushing us northwards for a few hours.  However, the weather was at best grey and at worst very rainy so the only photo taken on the 2 days was this one:

Night watch on Maunie - we use red LED lighting to preserve our night vision for when we go on deck to look out for other vessels
Unfortunately, and there’s always an unfortunately to spoil the fun, Dianne’s hacking cough, which, ironically, she’s had since we were in Port Hacking two weeks ago, made life pretty uncomfortable for her and left her short of both sleep and energy. Meanwhile, Graham was being a brave little soldier but fighting the symptoms of early-onset man flu. So, armed with the latest weather forecast yesterday evening, some navigational calculations were performed and we decided that a diversion into Yamba marina, about 100 miles short of our destination,  would not only be feasible (the tide has to be just right to cross the shallow river bar) but eminently sensible. We arrived at about 07.30, still in heavy drizzle, but our reward, apart from the still waters, was the welcome sight of some blue sky and sunshine this afternoon, the first we’ve decent break that we have seen for a week or so.

Yamba Marina - Maunie berthed to the left of the big motorboat

Stocked up with new supplies of tissues and tablets and well rested, we’ll set off again tomorrow afternoon for a final overnighter to the Gold Coast, just across the border into southern Queensland, and that will give us a good two weeks to put Maunie to bed for her six months without us. The Gold Coast usually enjoys calm, dry and stable weather conditions in the winter whilst northern Queensland has a much more tropical climate. It’s coming toward the end of their cyclone season now but Cyclone Debbie is about to pounce, landing very close to where niece Laura is working in Airlie Beach sometime in the next couple of days. Compared to a Category 4 cyclone, a thunderstorm and a few days of drizzle perhaps weren’t so bad after all.

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