march 2009: australia

Australia: Sailing south – Port Macquarie to Jervis Bay


Tasman Sea – Crowdy Head – Cape Hawke Harbour (Forster/Tuncurry) – Providence Beach (Broughton Island) – Shoal Bay, Salamander Bay, Fame Cove, Tanilba Bay (Port Stephens) – Lobster Beach (Broken Bay) – America Bay (Cowan Creek) – Little Patonga Beach (Hawkesbury River) – Manly Cove, Farm Cove, Rose Bay (Port Jackson) – Jibbon Beach (Port Hacking) – Kiama – Hare Bay, Hole in the Wall (Jervis Bay)

The spoodle speaking with the first mate

Seven things we have learned

1. The first mate is not showing an aptitude for sailing because “wives are a bit slow on the uptake”. This information was made known to us by a friendly cruising sailor (male; mid 50s; travelling with wife).
2. It is not cool to wear a wetsuit and a hat while surfing under the noonday sun. This information was made known to us by a shivering, sunburnt lady riding a mal at the Tuncurry break wall.
3. Stinkboat day is enjoyed in many locations along the east coast of Australia, in addition to on the Gold Coast. Refer to point 4 below.
4. Ten guys in their early twenties can ruin the magic of a beautiful, isolated bay with chants such as “HOUSE BOAT! HOUSE BOAT! HOUSE BOAT!”; songs such as “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner and statements such as “YOUR TURN TO SKULL &#$*“. Refer to point 3 above.
5. Sailing is more enjoyable when we do not yell at each other, than when we do yell at each other.   
6. The number of signs citing lists of activities you cannot do increases exponentially as you move closer to Sydney. We obeyed the command “DO NOT LAND. BOMBING ZONE.” written on a big red sign on a beach near a military reserve, even though we really wanted to surf the left and right peak peeling onto the beach.
7. When learning how to spearfish, do not follow the skipper’s instructions literally. The statement “you need to line the gun right up, get it right in line” does not mean you should hold the spear gun close to your face and line it up with your eye, even if this is what the skipper had you practise with a pen before you jumped in the water. [Note: If you follow the skipper’s instructions and hold the spear gun as you practised holding the pen, then when you press the trigger the gun will recoil into you mouth. The right side of your face will immediately swell to elephantine proportions. Your lip will bleed and bruise. You will be in too much pain to be as excited as the skipper that you caught two fish from your first two shots.] 

The spoodle and the skipper sailing on the Hawkesbury 

Four of the best bits

1. Lodging in perfect locations is priceless.
2. Forster/Tuncurry
*Anchoring where the harbour master suggested; in the middle of the channel – “other boats can drive around you“.
*Surfing the Tuncurry break wall on day-of-the-year with loads of frothers who had taken the day off work.
*Delicious oysters.
*Swimming 72m laps of the tidal pool while watching the fish.
*Fattening up the fish for fishermen to catch. A fish (a gang of fish?) ate a bag of worms off our lines without coming close to being caught.
3. Sydney
*Sailing through the heads into Sydney harbour during a sun shower and sailing around the harbour, including past the opera house and under the harbour bridge. Cliché but a buzz.
*Beautiful and surprisingly peaceful anchorages in the middle of an international city.
*Anchoring out the back of Laura’s apartment at pretty Fairlight – the crystal clear waters of the North Harbour Aquatic Reserve directly out the front; a short walk to surf beaches; views of the harbour and out through the heads; a dog-off-lead walking track around the inner harbour cliffs; chilled, happy, friendly people. The first mate and the spoodle think the area is one of the most delightful places to live that they have ever seen. The skipper thinks the area is too busy and too cold and has surf that is too fickle and too small.
*Quality time with good friends.
*Watching boats race in a Friday afternoon corporate sailing event. About 100 boats crewed by accountants, investment bankers, bankers, lawyers, recruiters, fund managers, engineers, builders, developers, architects, pharmaceutical people, computer people, retail people, fashion people, small business people. We wondered; Does the GFC affect such events? Are the boats owned by the businesses that are continuing to do well or by the businesses that have staff with a bit more time on their hands? 
4. Jervis Bay
*A stunning natural harbour with clear water and white sandy beaches. Feeling like you are in the wilderness even though parts of the bay are routinely blown up for naval bombardment practice; an advantage of the juxtaposition of marine park protected zones and military gunnery zones.
*Quality time with good friends.
*Long jogs on the beach, surfing, spearfishing and snorkelling.

The spoodle helping the skipper navigate down the Hawkesbury

Four of the worst bits

1. Rubbish. Everywhere. In the ocean and in rivers, washed up on the beach and on the rocks. Assuming there are more “good people” (i.e., people who do not throw rubbish on the ground) in the world than there are “bad people” (i.e., people who do throw rubbish on the ground), then if all of the “good people” picked up a few pieces of rubbish each time they went out, then the world would be a cleaner place. 
2. Looking old and weathered. The first mate was asked whether she has the opportunity to travel on a sailing boat because her kids have grown up and left home.
3. Zinc’s first lightning storm at night out to sea. The skipper was excited about the opportunity to prepare for use all of the emergency, safety and wet weather equipment on board. The first mate was terrified and cried because there was nowhere to hide from the massive dark storm clouds rolling in from all directions. The spoodle was curled up in bed, warm and with a full belly. Fortunately though, Zinc, the skipper, the first mate and the spoodle motored through the storm unscathed, encountering a puff of southerly wind and a few drops of rain and witnessing a spectacular, blinding lightning display.
4. The sacrificial shower. Each day, the first shower is cold. The water allocation allowed for a shower is not large enough to enable the water to run through the pipes for the time required for the water to warm up. The second shower is warm. 

The spoodle sight seeing in Sydney (harbour bridge)

Spoodle report

*The spoodle played on land, usually two or three times a day at various beaches, parks and walking tracks. Activities included, body surfing shore breaks, chasing birds, sticks, pine leaves and balls, doing burnouts, running up and down sand dunes, playing with new friends. The spoodle’s favourite location was the dog-off-lead walking track out the back of Laura’s at Fairlight.  
*The spoodle was the subject of the following announcement broadcast on the Forster shopping centre’s PA system; [in a high pitched, whinny voice] “Would the owner of the black poodle tied up in the food court return to it immediately. I repeat, would the owner of the black poodle tied up in the food court return to it immediately.” We were confused because firstly, the spoodle is not a poodle, she is a spoodle and secondly, the spoodle was not tied up in the food court, she was tied up in the shade to a bench next to a taxi rank (admittedly though it was possible to see the foodcourt from this location).
*The spoodle howled and barked uncontrollably at men wearing commando wetsuits and wielding spear guns at the Forster tidal pool.
*The spoodle fell in love at first sight with Leo the jack russell. The feeling was mutual.
*The spoodle does not enjoy going to land on the stand up paddle board when the trip requires passing through a shore dump.
*The spoodle goes nuts when she hears and sees the people we speak with on Skype, especially Jill.
*The spoodle is tied up while Zinc is sailing; on a short lead in rough conditions and on a long rope in calm conditions. The spoodle prefers being tied on a long rope.

The spoodle sight seeing in Sydney (opera house)

Nature report

*Sharks. Three. Two unidentified sharks swimming around Broughton Island; sighted from the tender; one half way between our anchorage at Providence Bay and North Rock where we intended to dive, the other at North Rock 20m from the tender as we were about to jump out to dive. One six foot hammerhead shark 3km out to sea off the south head of Sydney Harbour.
*Dolphins. Numerous pods of bottlenose and spinner dolphins, including the pods that are chased around Tuncurry, Port Stephens and Jervis Bay by massive dolphin watching boats.
*Seal. One. Sunbaking, belly and flippers up, 5km out to sea off the Royal National Park south of Sydney.
*Brown jelly fish the size of beach balls.
*Lightning storms. Three. One while anchored at Manly; we disconnected the batteries and stood in the dark with candles and cap lamps watching helplessly as other boats dragged anchor onto the ferry dock, ran into each other and got caught in each others anchor chains. Carnage. Zinc was OK. One while on route from Port Hacking to Jervis Bay (refer to worst bit number 3). One while anchored at Hare Bay in Jervis Bay.

The spoodle, the first mate and May go to town.

Surf report

*Tuncurry break wall

*Target Beach, Jervis Bay

Dive report

*Broughton Island
*Fairlight Beach, Manly Cove
*Jibbon Beach, Port Hacking
*Target Beach, Jervis Bay
*Hare Point, Jervis Bay

Book report

The skipper read:

*The Road by Cormack McCarthy (4 stars)
*Tar Baby by Toni Morrison (3 stars)
*Red Alert by Alistair McClean (1 star)
*The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (4 stars)
*Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (5 stars)
*All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (4 stars)

The skipper started to read but did not finish:

*Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan
*A Kindness Cup by Thea Astley
*The Rat by Gunter Grass

The first mate read:

*Slow Man by JM Coetzee (2 stars)
*A Passage to India by EM Forster (3.5 stars)
*Tar Baby by Toni Morrison (3.5 stars)
*The Gates by Jennifer Johnston (2 stars)
*Accordion Crimes by E Annie Proulx (2 stars)
*A Kindness Cup by Thea Astley (3 stars)
*Tell Me 30 Stories by Mary Robison (3 stars)
*Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (3 stars)