PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

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PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Jakub76 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:40 am

Part 1 of 3

After doing substantial boat works since purchase (to be covered in another thread) we felt it was time to enjoy the boat this summer. The plan was to holiday for 2 weeks aboard and head from Sydney to Port Stephens to go chase dolphins.

Sydney Harbour Sailing
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Sandra on watch
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Day 01 we took the boat from its mooring in Iron Cove out of the heads for a quick sail and a bit of fishing. With light fading and a north easterly wind ensuring we wouldn't make Pittwater before midnight we decided to come back in and anchor in Spring Cove for the night. Before we returned we were visited by a police helicopter that circled us very low and called us on VHF 16 asking if we had seen a sailboat adrift. I trust the inhabitants got to safety.

Spring Cove near Manly
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A beautiful morning greeted us, we swam, fished and cooked a hearty breakfast before setting off for Broken Bay.

Short Video here--> https://youtu.be/L94gs-jeJNI

After a bit of exploring we picked up a mooring outside the Patonga pub where we enjoyed dinner and a sunset view of our boat.

Moored off Patonga
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We thought of staying aboard there for the night but it was a bit rolly so we moved to another vacant mooring in Refuge Bay around the corner. Earlier the auto tiller was making some odd sounds. There is a wooden block affixed to the cockpit where the auto tiller base slots in - the block had been loose and I think the motor was struggling to maintain course while correcting for the play in the block. I epoxied the block and found some big washers and nuts to affix it to the cockpit wall properly.

Bonito Fishing
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Next day we set off further north, beating into a NE wind to Newcastle. I finally started putting food on the table, pulling out a feisty bonito. By night fall the auto tiller had stopped working, I assume the motor had burnt itself out from the extra strain the previous day. It was a long slog and we arrived late at night, picking up a berth at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club. Their website shows where to berth and asks that you go see them in the morning to pay the marina fee. In the morning we went to see marina staff and I was a bit surprised that we had to pay around $60 for the night's berth. We made use of the showers and had a lovely late breaky at one of the cafes before heading off around noon.

...to be continued...
Last edited by Jakub76 on Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Jakub76 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:54 am

Part 2

We were escorted out of Newcastle harbour by a small pod of dolphins that lifted our spirits considerably. We saw a swarm of birds ahead so we deployed our favourite lure 'Pinky' and pulled out 3 tailor that my partner insisted were too small to keep. I guess it's all relative...her first fish was a mac tuna just 6 months previous.

Catching Tailor
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Another long day beating into a northeaster and manual steering.

Short Video here--> https://youtu.be/yN9b4GvFErI

The rougher seas and apparent wind made things quite uncomfortable and we arrived at the entrance to Port Stephens around 11pm. Plenty of rocks around so had to be quite careful with a keen eye on the Navionics charts. Despite arriving late we had planned to celebrate our arrival with a seafood cook-up and some silly dancing. We picked up a vacant mooring in Shoal Bay and cooked up the fish we had caught the previous day. Then we discovered that our bedding had been soaked during the day's passage so our mood, like our bedding, dampened...we felt broken. Some creative bed-making and we did enjoy a good night's sleep though.

Next day we motored into Nelson Bay where we topped up our fuel and water and reacquainted with the marina staff that I had met 6 months previous. Despite the marina staff being absolutely lovely the fees were a bit steep high-season so we tried our luck at the public wharf also inside the breakwater. Success, one of the four berths was available so we parked up, found a laundromat and dried everything out. I also spoke to the local marine electrician to try to fix the auto tiller. He admitted he'd be sending it off to Aquatronics in Newport anyway so I contacted them direct and sent the unit express post.

Public wharf Nelson Bay
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Our public wharf berth was just perfect - walk on, walk off access, water and public facilities nearby. It's also right in the middle of Nelson Bay so everything you could want is walking distance. Magic.

Day05_beers.jpg (72.15 KiB) Viewed 299 times

We spent a few days enjoying Nelson Bay - taking the tender out to go snorkelling, exploring on foot, enjoying the scenery, seafood and wining & dining. We spotted another TopHat named '1/2 Hitch' on a courtesy mooring and went over to say g'day. Owner said he was a local and had the boat for a couple months.

I had wanted to explore Broughton Island but I was not about to sail into another headwind so we waited for a southerly change and rode it out of the harbour on a very pleasant run to Broughton Island. Once there we decided to grab a vacant mooring in Esmarelda Cove. I did some snorkelling and pulled out a parrot fish that we included in our seafood feast that evening.

We were one of three boats in Esmarelda Cove, one was a cat anchored outside and the other was a small fishing boat right up on the beach. One of the fishing shacks had about a dozen boisterous blokes in residence. The only peace we got was when they went off fishing. Next morning was the first day of school holidays and motor boats started arriving from dawn. By the time we finished our breakfast there must have been 6 or 8 more boats in the bay and some of our new neighbours already had beers in hand. We decided it was time to return to Nelson Bay. As forecast the wind turned back to NE so the run back to Nelson Bay was easy and enjoyable with the occasional dolphin sighting. Once we got back, would you believe our berth at the public wharf was still vacant. Win!

Next day we sailed further into the harbour to explore. What a beautiful place to sail. We ended day 9 at Fame Cove where we picked up the last courtesy mooring and had a lovely swim.

Fame Cove sunset
Fame Cove sunset
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We saw yet another TopHat moored there that night too. Noticed our fridge was not turning on...food was still cold but the compressor hadn't run all afternoon. A delicious cook-up and a good nights' sleep later we were ready to explore again.

Dropped into Soldiers Point marina to top up our water supply. Wow! That place is like a day spa, very fancy. They wanted $5 for the water but decided to waive the fee after a short chat.

We saw a few dolphins again as we sailed over to Salamander Bay to try and catch some flathead. I anchored on the edge of the mooring field and we were casting in over the weed beds with no success. In order to get our lures and bait closer to the sandy bottom I started letting out anchor rope to get the boat over where I wanted to fish. Still no success so I got bored and went below to start tinkering with the fridge. Bypassed the switch and the compressor fired up so I took the switch off and tinkered with it for a while until it worked again - yay! However once I re-installed the switch I realised that the boat was no longer rocking - no. While I was distracted the tide had run out enough to beach us on the sand flats in Salamander Bay. Boo. I got in the water to assess the situation, tried the engine while winching on the anchor rope...no joy. Luckily the boat was leaning away from the next tide so I decided we'd just go off and do land based activities for the day while we waited for the tide to return and float us.

Careening in Salamander Bay
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We took the tender to The Anchorage. Wow, another fancy marina resort. Had a nice feed and some beers there before setting off on foot to explore further. Ended up back in Salamander Bay at low tide...wishing I didn't see the boat careening on it's side...ugly. Anyway after we had dinner at a local Thai restaurant we returned to the boat and started watching Netflix until I could feel the water pick us up again. It was a pretty easy task then to motor over to a nearby courtesy mooring for the night.

Day 11 we woke to yet another beautifully sunny day.

Salamander Bay morning
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...to be continued...
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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Jakub76 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:03 pm

Part 3

Sailing Port Stephens
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After the obligatory swim we did our last day of exploring and tied up for the night at the face of the public wharf in Nelson Bay expecting to start the passage home before dawn in the forecast NE. We set off around 2am and crossed the entrance safely but were disappointed that there was little wind. With the glow of dawn on the horizon we were visited by a pod of dolphins that swam with us for at least 10 minutes. A very energetic small dolphin jumping clear out of the water beside us while the larger creatures swam with the bow. I sent my partner up to the bow to enjoy the show, I'm sure it was her giggling and squealing that kept the dolphins there so long.

We were able to cut the engine when the wind picked up mid morning and I was happy to be under sail again. The forecast was for a decrease in wind but no change in direction so I was pretty confused when the wind shifted to a southerly squall while we were about 9nm offshore somewhere around Terrigal. The wind whipped up very quickly, I harnessed myself in and rigged the mainsail on it's 3rd reef with very little headsail. Initially we kind of enjoyed the challenge when it was just strong wind and rain. I steered the boat just catching the edge of the headwind to try and keep positive momentum towards shore as well as enough speed for steerage.

Short video here --> https://youtu.be/xmQiftTQ2yA

It wasn't long though until the wind brought up some BIG waves. I sent my partner inside as I wasn't confident that I could recover her should she fall overboard. Then things got pretty scary. I have never seen waves this big, ever. When in a trough between waves the peaks loomed high above and looked to be halfway up the mast. We were making some headway but it was across the waves so they were hitting us side-on and a lot of the really big waves were breaking. I just kept on going, trying to keep enough speed for steerage and when I thought a wave was going to break on us I steered the boat directly towards it. It seemed to work and I felt confident because I had a plan.

That storm lasted about 3 hours and I was exhausted by the time it passed. Light was starting to fade by then and I could see Lion Island at the mouth of Broken Bay ahead. We ended up staying the night on a mooring at Great Mackarel Beach in the Pittwater.

Next day, our thirteenth on board, I dropped my partner off in Newport so she could make it to an appointment she had booked. I went all the way up the Pittwater to Sirsi Marina to pickup my repaired auto tiller from Aquatronics. As suspected the motor had burnt out, the repair cost $265. Armed with my repaired auto tiller and favourable winds I made for Sydney harbour.

Short video here --> https://youtu.be/I1r8fUD8n4I

Without needing to steer manually I had plenty of time to enjoy the trip and managed to pull in a few more bonito along the way.

Catching Bonito
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Bonito Haul
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I returned to my mooring around 9pm a bit sad to see the end of the trip. I left with a few kilos of tuna fillets, a bag of dirty laundry and a long list of repairs that I'm slowly working through to ensure that PC Jay is ready to take us on plenty more adventures in future.
Last edited by Jakub76 on Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Troppo » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:22 pm

Wow! Great story and pics and vids. Thanks Jakub for putting them up. Certainly an exciting time coming home with that squall. Sheesh, scary conditions. Glad to hear you made it back safely.

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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Phillip » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:13 pm

Good trip Jacko,

Makes me want to get back out there ASAP.

What camera were you using please?
A 1969 Mark 1

Home port is at Dunbogan on the Camden Haven Inlet, Laurieton NSW
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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Jakub76 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:25 pm

Thanks for the kind words Troppo and Phillip.

To answer your question the cameras I used were my iPhone and a GoPro Hero4. It’s certainly not cinematic, just wanted to get some simple coverage to show off on socials and combat my failing memory :D
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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby benllben » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:26 pm

That looks like a great trip Jakub.

I was the owner of the other Tophat you saw in fame cove and i must say you were very lucky with the timing of your arrival there as 3 other boats had just came into the bay a few moments prior. I honestly thought you were all part of some convy!

About a week after i was in broughton island and by that time there were 10 other boats anchored in the south western bay only one of which was not a sail boat. It really does get busy in the holidays. Unfortunately some birds decided they would take offence to my mast mounted vhf antenna and attacked it until it was snapped and left hanging by the wire off the mast. I only ever found half of that antenna on the deck in the morning when the wire frayed through.
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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Troppo » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:00 am

benllben wrote: Unfortunately some birds decided they would take offence to my mast mounted vhf antenna and attacked it until it was snapped and left hanging by the wire off the mast.


Do birds often do things like that down your way?

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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby Jakub76 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:05 pm

Hi Ben,
I know what you mean about getting that last mooring. We raced to the mooring at Fame Cove that afternoon with a catamaran slowly gaining on us the whole way. I think we beat him there by less than a minute. :D

Sorry to hear about your antenna. The birds have certainly taken ownership of the Broughton Islands. I accidently hooked a seagull while casting lures there in Esmarelda Cove. Bloody traumatic unhooking birds.

Thanks for your reply. Where you holidaying in Port Stephens or do you live nearby? What are your boat details? Ours is a Mk II with modifications...transom mounted rudder and extra skeg. It makes for a fairly spacious cockpit.

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Re: PC Jay - Two Week Sailing Adventure

Postby benllben » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:44 pm

Troppo, never really had issues with birds, i believe it was some bigger birds nesting somewhere in the bay. It is possible they took offence to the anchor light as they stopped attacking the mast after switching it off. Most of boats had theres off and apparently had no problems

Jakub, i own a fairly standard mark 3, no major modifications that i know of. I like the cockpit space of the mark 0, as well as the ease of walking down the sides of the deck. I was on holiday for a month however spent most of that having engine problems and things breaking. The boat however is kept there while i live down in sydney, makes for great weekend getaways!
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