A short compile of sailing the East Coast
A short compile of sailing the East Coast
One question that inevitably comes up when we talk to people about cruising the Great Barrier Reef is what spots we absolutely loved.
While there were easily several places in this part of the world that we really enjoyed, one that was certainly right up there is Middle Percy Island.
Pretty infamous in cruising circles Middle Percy Island is the quintessential island cruising experience.
West Bay is a white sandy, inviting beach complete wih coconut palms and the ” Percy Hilton’ an A frame structure that serves as a meeting point and hangout for cruisers. Full of momentos from passing yachts and complete with the ‘swing’ and hammocks. A decent walk up the hill and you will find the homestead, where the current custodians of the island live. Refreshments and some fresh produce might be available, these guys are doing a great job of looking after the island.
Frowned on by Alan Lucas in his cruising guides as a uncomfortable anchorage we were lucky during our time there and only experienced some minor swell typical of any island anchorage in this area.
Warm days at Middle Percy swimming in clear blue water, cooking fresh fish in coconut and watching a magic sunset every night made it a hard spot to leave. If you wanted to be social there were always other cruisers to get together with. If not then watching life pass by pleasantly seemed to fill up day.
The history of this island is umm well interesting, To find out more it about this fascinaing place visit
We have spent a bit of time this year enjoying cruising the NSW coast.
We kind of rushed past alot of great spots on the way north in 2011 and although there are challenges sailing the NSW coast, it is good cruising in a part of the world to explore closer to home.
We have also been topping up the cruising kitty and are now working through a major refit in addition to just being busy parents, which is why there has been a bit of a lack of cute Sophie photos on here lately!
There is a plan, head north up the east coast of Australia again, and then head into either Asia or the Pacific?…..and then???? Stay tuned!!
So we are trying to make some decisions about our self steering.
Our boat currently has a Autohelm st4000+ wheel pilot. Before our last big cruise up to the Great Barrier Reef I was going to replace it with a below deck autopilot. Time and economics got away from me and it was one thing that didn’t get replaced. In fact, I have to confess, it was the one thing that got no attention whatsoever before we left. However now with plans to head further afield, I am looking at a couple of choices.
1) Replace with below deck autopilot (probably Raymarine, although Coursemaster, a local product looks reasonable). My issue with this is power consumption on a long passage, given our pretty modest systems (we have 300ah in the house bank, 200w solar and an oversized alternator). This would be about a 3k project, but might escalate if we need to beef up our power generation.
2) Purchase a new Raymarine wheel pilot. I get why below deck models are better, but our current st4000+ seems to do every thing I need it too. We have no plans to circumnavigate just yet or enter the southern ocean. 1.5K project.3) Purchase a Hydrovane. (I prefer this auxiliary rudder style of vane for our centre cockpit yacht.) and use our existing long suffering st4000+ for light winds and motoring. I like the idea of a vane. This, however would be a 6k project and in reality I am wondering if the couple of long passages we will do justify this cost, also it would mean our st4000+ is still being relied upon some of the time. I would love to do this but it’s a big chunk out of cruising kitty.
Catching up with family and friends has been good.
It is now time to top up the cruising kitty and figure out what next. We do have ideas, we have some thoughts in terms of the boat and formulating some plans.
Our last night in Coffs started with sundowners on Whimaway and then Kristi and Rick came around for a night of wine and cheese. Local cruisers we had met last time we were in Coffs when they had grabbed our lines back then and shown two very tired and stressed parents/newbie cruisers overwhelming hospitality, they are truly the kind of people that represent everything cruising should be about.
Sitting back with them in the saloon and talking about the passages and experiences we had been through seemed like a very fitting last night.
With the Pied Piper now knocking loudly on the side of the hull beckoning us, we decided to head from Coffs Harbour straight to Pittwater to get home as soon as possible. Slightly worse for wear (the second bottle of wine was probably not a good idea) we again left in company with Whimaway. It proved to be another magic overnighter, dolphins and whales close to the boat (a little too close!) and a fast sail with a near full moon.
By sunrise we were past Port Stephens and spoke with Mix’d Nutz on the radio as they were leaving Shoal Bay. Almost 36 hours after leaving Coffs we were inside Pittwater. The sight of Lion island brought tears to both of our eyes, we were home, but also our time aboard our beautiful boat was, for the moment, nearly over.
We pulled into our old berth, not exactly gracefully, knocking the fire hydrant at the end of the berth, in our only berthing incident in months of cruising. Being very wide, easy to approach and very familiar, the irony was not exactly appreciated by all at the time. None the less, we were home, arriving in the middle of the “festival of sail” with boats and people everywhere, we were dismissed as been just another boat out for a day on Pittwater.
The band in the bar started playing “sitting on the dock of the bay” as we turned off the engine and opened a bottle of wine. The grandparents would be here shortly, eager to see Sophie after months away, then there were friends to see, errands to run and that piper character seemed to now be standing up at the bow shaking a finger at us and tut-tutting loudly. For the moment, however, we just sat and listened to the music and chatted, laughing as we watched our gorgeous daughter attempt, yet again, to dismantle the autopilot.
“Josie, You know if we headed up there and left from Coffs Harbour in April we could go across to Vanuatu and do the pacific thing…..”
“Yes honey, but maybe we should go and get some more corn chips and avocado first”…