But, before that, we had a few legs that we covered, and time's flown past while I've neglected the blog amongst all the ....err.....action.
So, where did we leave off.....
Last time I wrote, we were in lovely Bermagui, so that's where I'll pick up from. We motored out through the bar early on the morning of the 23rd. March, planning on travelling at our "average" 5 knots to arrive into Ulladulla after dark. After a wind-less first few hours however, a lovely South Easterly picked up, all sails were hoisted and with the engine ticking over as well, we zoomed along, over 8 knots at times, heeled over nicely under clear blue skies. A dream run! We had Ulladulla in view by 4.00 pm, and were comfortably tied up on the outer wharf by 5.00, dining in a nice restaurant by 6.00.
While it's a difficult wharf to be tied against, with a bit of wrangling of fenders and the barge board, we were secure, although the boat's caprail took a bit of chafing, but the only damage was to varnish. (I'm good at varnishing.) We were a little exposed, at the end of the wharf, because it was the only place we could access a ladder to get off the boat. The port is really a working fishing port and not made for travelling yachts.
We were also warned about a strong surge at that spot, particularly in a developed Southerly wind and swell, but knew we could move further inside and raft-up against a fishing vessel if things blew up.
Being a working port, there was a facility for disposing of old used oil on the wharf, so I took the opportunity to change the engine oil. After a lengthy hike to the Auto spares shop up the hill anyway. We've finally cleared the black sooty deposits from the engine that we'd had since our exhaust problem at Lakes Entrance.
The weather was so nice that we decided to hang out in Ulladulla until after the next Southerly change blew through, so spent the week wandering the streets, eating nice lunches and exploring the parts of town that I'd never got to know after all those years of passing through on surf trips.
But that wasn't so bad. It did become difficult once Easter arrived, and the wharf became packed with holidaymakers.
It amazes us how some choose to sit on the wharf, fishing all through the night, drinking, talking and smoking.
Actually catching a fish is a rarity.
It makes for a strange night when you're just below them in bed, there's 24 hour floodlights blazing above and noisy fishermen chatting away, leaving hoses turned on and chucking empty bottles into the water.
On our final night, three other yachts, who'd raced in from Batemans Bay, rafted up against us and we had the additional disturbance of their apologetic crews clomping across our deck on their way home from the pub....as their boats did their best to squish us against the wharf.
So we were more than happy to make a run for it, declining the opportunity to join in with Ulladulla's "Blessing Of The Fleet" ceremonies. Besides, with a boat registration number like "G666" we may have been a bit controversial...
We were about to drop the anchor when a dinghy rowed up behind us to tell us about the free public mooring that we could use. Well, as an indication of just how little experience we've had on our boat, we'd never actually used a floating mooring before! Ever! Pretending that we knew what we were doing, we hooked up to it and revelled in the security of being tied up to something that wasn't going to drag in the night or bash the side of our boat against a fishing wharf. We had a fantastic night's sleep!
In the morning, with a strong new Southerly change forecast, it was a leisurely cruise back over to the Southern side of the Bay, to the "Hole in the Wall" and another public mooring. Absolutely beautiful, with crystal clear water and an unspoiled National Park on the white-sandy shoreline.
We made one false start, heading out to sea in a thunderstorm and being accosted by a six foot swell and six-foot chop. After an hour or two of extreme discomfort (we had one wave wash through the cockpit) we decided to surrender, and headed back into the bay to relax and wait for the system to pass.
Which took another few days. But we enjoyed a couple of daytrips into the town of Vincentia, and I had some great walks through the National Park and around the beaches. We were kept amused by watching the Naval exercises and pleased not to be chucked out of the area by the Navy. It was interesting also to see that their exercises always stopped for lunch!
Exit through the bar at high tide was easy, and we set off towards Cronulla, assuming that we were away from the Jervis Bay currents and would be anchored outside Sydney in time for dinner. Wrong! The dreaded current held us back to a little over four knots, with a slight headwind, and awkward sailing conditions.
We decided to pull into Wollongong's fishing port to spend the night. For Australia's biggest regional city, it's a tiny little harbour, built by convict labour in the 1800's. Apart from the flash restaurants that adjoin the harbour, nothing much has changed since then, and we rafted up against fishing boats, getting growled at by one fat, grumpy fisherman who obviously thought he owned the harbour. ("F#cken Yachties!" was his cheerful greeting as, beer in hand, he watched us from his deck, struggling with the lines when we came in.)
We actually had a good night's sleep despite fishing boats creeping quietly past us all night as they headed out to sea. (We were tied up against a charter operator who wasn't going anywhere on a Monday morning.)
We headed out around 0800, motored through a mooring field of over a dozen bulk carriers waiting to go into Port Kembla, and eventually pulled into Port Hacking and the delightful little anchorage of Jibbon Bay. We looked at the free public moorings, but they seemed just too shallow and close to the beach and we stayed on anchor overnight, over nice clean sand.
Things were getting exciting....we were just THAT close to Sydney, so, despite thunderstorm warnings, nothing could convince us to wait another night, and in the morning, we were outta there....
So not quite the sparkling Emerald City that I'd been hoping to triumphantly enter, but it was exciting for us anyway. And the crappy weather probably kept the traffic down at least.
We motored past the bridge and into the Birkenhead Marina at Iron Cove, which, over a week later, is where we remain.
Lapping up the city, socialising with friends and relatives. Apart from getting the LifeRaft serviced, what's not to like?
The Archibald Prize exhibit at the Art Gallery. The Manly Ferry. The Rocks. Darling Harbour. Dinners in Balmain and Drummoyne. Shopping. Visitors on the boat. "Seniors Card" public transport discounts! Great stuff!
Next week, we'll head up to a mooring in Pittwater, and from there? Who knows?