December 17, 2008
Our sojourn in Newcastle ended Thursday 11th, when Sea Eagle was again fit to go to sea.Insurance sorting took time, finally resolved by assessor Michael, who came and saw and questioned and assessed and adjudicated, for part value of the wind generator, radar and wind instrument.A new wind generator was installed with the help of electrical engineer Kevin, but the temporarily-repaired wind transducer at the top of the mast refused to work, despite four trips to the top of the mast. We manage with the low-technology Windex instead. Radar and new wind instrument must wait until Sea Eagle is back in Brisbane.Our tentative plans to sail a long way south were by now out of time-range, so we decided on the Sydney area instead.Early Thursday 11th, with overcast skies and maybe drizzle, but with a forecast south-easterly wind at 10 to 15 kt, we motored out of Newcastle harbour, following a very large, laden, coal ship with three tugs to help it, and then meeting, just outside the entrance marker, another very large, but unladen, coal ship on the way in, the three tugs awaiting. Sea Eagle bounced and rocked her way into the wind, waves and swell until we were well offshore and able to head south west and sail towards Sydney. Newcastle is Australia’s major coal-exporting port, and there were at least 25 ships awaiting loading, anchored in the bay and most of the way down the coast in our path. Interesting navigation under the low-visibility conditions. The pilot’s VHF channel was busy, talking of pilots-ferried-by-helicopter rather than boat. Modern!Entering Broken Bay, at 33deg 34S, 151deg 20E in the evening, at last gave respite from the uncomfortable seas and we nosed into America’s Bay, at 33deg 35,7S, 151deg 15,2E and tied up to an unused mooring for the night. Peace, surrounded by gum tree lined hills.Next morning we established that there was a mooring available at Parsley Bay, just a few miles north, round the corner from the Hawkesbury River Marina, (see pics) and we were shown to a strong one by Earl, the marina’s manager. We stayed there for a few days, to utilise the train service at Hawkesbury River station, just a short walk away.Friday dawned wet and windy, so we took the train/bus to Orange, to visit M’s brother Philip. The hoped-for view from the train through the mountains wasn’t. Too much rain and fog!Phil was as hospitable as always, and amongst other things, took us to the Jenolan Caves, a labyrinth of enormous caves and grottos, (see pics), which would have taken a week to explore fully. Amazing. Millions of years of drips, stalagtites and stalagmites.Back on Sea Eagle on Monday evening to find a dud bilge pump and near-flatted batteries.Amazingly, Greg, at Brooklyn Marina had a 24 volt pump, which was duly installed. That used up Tuesday.Wednesday dawned perfect summer, (at last!), so we took a dingy-cruise up (a very small part of) the Hawkesbury River. Under the Railway bridge, (see pic) which is too low for sailboats, and on and on and on. Enormous river, wide and deep with tributaries. Many oyster farms, which we didn’t see much evidence of because of an exceptionally high tide. Even the notices were half-submerged. Lunch was taken onshore in the shade of a glade of gum trees, curtailed when a threatening front, (see pic) rushed over the sky. Weather moves fast here, but we reached home before the rain came.Today, Thursday, we are off to Sydney, to visit friends and relations.