We've had a few "firsts" since arriving in NSW two weeks ago. We have explored a navy warship, seen migrating humpback wales, caught a bonito, and crossed our first river bar. We also weathered some pretty yucky conditions on the Eden wharf, and found ourselves seeking safe harbour again as a particularly weird low pressure system approaches us from the east...
We spent just over a week in Twofold Bay, mostly at the Eden wharf, plus two nights over at East Boyd Bay sheltering from some feisty southerly weather. Eden was a great place to stop. So pretty, and it only cost us $5 per night on the wharf which included shore power, water and shower facilities. (They are putting it up to $25 per night in July, which is still a bargain compared when compared to most marinas).
A local on the Eden wharf. I need to buy a bird ID book so I can tell you what she is! Anyway, she was a real poser. - Update: Beverly from Three Hummock Island tells me she is an Egret!
The day after we docked in Eden a navy warship the HMAS Broome (an Armidale Class patrol boat, apparently) also arrived in port, en route to Tasmania. Michael was having a sneaky close-up look when one of the crew said - "Hey - do you want a tour?" Michael said "Sure! Let me go get my wife!" We spent the next hour or so being shown all around the ship and meeting the crew. There was a really great vibe on board with lots of joking around, and they talked about how much they enjoyed their jobs travelling around Australia and beyond in this mean-looking warship. There was a lot of obvious pride - in a good way. What surprised me was how young the crew were! The boatswain that showed us around must have only just been 18 I reckon. All these young girls and guys living a pretty bizarre existence chasing illegal fisherman, drug traffickers, and not to mention those pesky asylum seekers (why is it that those three are somehow in the same category???) Anyway, it was an eye opening experience for us - and that's the best thing about travelling I reckon - those spontaneous, unplanned opportunities that just fall in your lap.
Unfortunately in any strong southerly weather the Eden wharf gets really uncomfortable, a lesson we learned the hard way. We got seriously knocked about one night, but it was our own fault as we were tied up stern to the swell - noobs! Oh well, even after 2000 miles we are still learning... I don't expect we'll ever stop - both learning and making mistakes!
The next day we headed over to East Boyd Bay along with four other boats to hide out behind the large Navy wharf. Unfortunately there was a warship loading ammunition, which meant we had to wait until after dark when they gave the all clear to enter. We had a really nice time relaxing and fishing over the next few days before returning to Eden to do some final jobs (including a day trip by bus to Bega) before once again heading North.
Anchorage at East Boyd Bay
We left Eden on 1 June and sailed in excellent conditions to Bermagui. On the way I was gazing out over the calm seas when I saw a puff of spray a few hundred metres away. At first I thought it was a rock with waves crashing over it but there was nothing on the chart ... and then suddenly there was another puff, and another! Whales! We knew there was a chance we'd see them as they are heading north at the moment (like us!) but they are not expected in this close to the coast. They didn't come very close to us (a good and a bad thing I guess!) but I did manage to get a few long distance photos.
I promise there is a tail in this shot if you zoom in!
We entered the Bermagui river in the mid afternoon and were directed by the fishing co-op to raft up to a fishing boat which wasn't going anywhere fast as it had just had an engine room fire. I make no apologies for the name of the fishing boat - it takes a certain type of courage to name your boat that - although the easily offended may wish to skip over the next photo! We really liked Bermagui - not sure what we were expecting but it was a really pretty town, although quiet now the summer crowds have departed.
Rafted up in Bermagui. Poor BV needs a really good wash! We'll give her some TLC before we hit ritzy Sydney harbour.
We stayed at Bermagui for two nights as the winds were going to be non-existent the next day, and there was a nice SW forecast for the following day. Michael caught a beautiful bonito along the way on a $6 lure that had been recommended to us in Eden. You can't get these fish in SA, so it was a first for us, and highly underrated in our opinion. Kitty agreed!
We approached Batemans Bay with a certain amount of trepidation as it would be our first proper river bar crossing - a common challenge in NSW but not something we'd encountered before. With some guidance from the local marine rescue guys we crossed the bar at high tide, holding our breath as we slipped over with only 1/2 metre of water under our keel.
We had chosen the Clyde River to see out the nasty storm that is forecast for this week as there is a good anchorage upriver beyond the opening bridge. Wouldn't you know it though? The bridge is closed for maintenance for the next month! A huge pain in the butt. This left us with only a few options: make a run north to Jervis Bay (not our preference given the weather on the way), anchor in the river on the ocean side of the bridge (we did this on the first night and it felt very exposed behind the sand bar, and 6 metre swell is forecast), or beg and plead with the chock-a-block local marina to squeeze us in for a few nights. Although its costing us quite a lot of money we decided for peace of mind we'd take the marina option. Not something we can afford to do often, but totally justifiable when there are 45 knot winds and big seas on the horizon!
So that's where we are - spider-webbed to a pen in the Batemans Bay marina where will stay until we see the back of this storm.
Wow, this turned into a really long post - apologies for that!