Leaving Sydney town for Pittwater was an easy sail in company with Trufflehound. En route Dini and I put into Coasters Retreat for last minute Internet and some boat maintenance before heading into the relative wilderness of Cowan Waters.
This last item consisted of repairing a deck mounted foot switch that operates the windlass (anchor winch). Having experienced total failure of the windlass on my way around the bottom of Australia I was prepared for the worst when it stopped working but relieved when it turned out to be just a loose contact instead.
The vast waterway that is Broken Bay/Cowan Creek/Hawksbury River and Brisbane Water is a staggering size and would take a month of stopping every night at a different place to do it justice. We however were happy to explore a small part of it consisting of America Bay, Refuge Bay, Smiths Creek and for our last night we chose Castle Lagoon. Every place was beautiful and scenic with plenty of free moorings to tie up on making this a hassle free place to enjoy peace and quiet in magnificent surroundings.
Extra special though is the waterfall in Refuge Bay. Very easy to get to and very popular it is something special to pull up on a sandy beach with a magnificent waterfall right in front. The water was really cold but tasted great and before taking a cold shower under it I first climbed to the top to take some iconic photos of this unique area. A great experience for us and difficult to leave, yet after a great week here we left on Wednesday night (18th) for Port Stephens.
The first part of our sail North was very enjoyable with SSW winds pushing us along nicely. That all changed around midnight though as the winds increased and swung violently to the South. A bad jibe convinced me to shorten sail and it proved fortuitous as the winds further increased to a steady 20+ kn with 29 in the gusts. A very rolly and uncomfortable night followed before in the pale light of dawn we saw the welcome headlands of Port Stephens ahead.
The night sail past Newcastle proved to be yet more exciting too when a large tanker that had been steadily overtaking us to seaward suddenly slowed, its speed matching our own after drawing almost parallel. As our path put us on a collision course there was some consternation as what would happen next.
I was not fast enough (or brave enough) to try and cross in front. Being unsure of its intent or further action made it prudent to turn South, lose an hour and pass under his stern. Bloody hell they look big from that close up.
Finally back on our original course once more we continued on to Port Stephens without further incident.
Happy to say that despite deteriorating conditions at sea we are happily ensconced inside the Nelsons Bay harbour walls, safe and sound whilst close to all modern conveniences.
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