Some friends of ours had run aground near the Royal Motor yacht club earlier in the day, and after a stressful afternoon, they called us just after dark saying they were heading past our mooring. Within 5 min’s they were rafted up for a hot chocolate and baileys to calm their nerves, while we laughed over stories of running aground. It’s great to be able to share these stories with fellow sailors, land based friends just look at us like we are mad 🙂
There is an old adage; there are only two sailors who never ran aground – the one that never left port and the one that was an atrocious liar…eventually , if you play around in boats for long enough you will run aground. Best you can do is hope for a soft landing!
At 8pm we swung out of Broken Bay to follow the coast north. The half moon was high in the starlight sky and there wasn’t a cloud to interrupt the view. Just off Terrigal the breeze filled in to a lovely 12 knots, out of the west and just aft of the beam. The crew tucked in for the night while I unfurled the headsail and we were off, making 5 knots in flat seas.
We crossed through a huge flock of sleeping sea birds bobbing on the surface, there must have been hundreds and as Vega nodded through them they took to the air, the moon light illuminating them against the dark sky, it was quite a sight.
Throughout the night the breeze kept building and by the time the moon set, at just after midnight, we were romping along, white crests fizzing and foaming along Vega’s hull. With the moon gone, it was a dark, quiet night and I was slowly settling into my first night watch in 18 months. It takes a while to get back into the rhythm of the sea and the motion of the boat. It always interests me how alert your ears become in the dark. You can’t see, but you hear everything as you slowly fall in tune with your boat, the ocean and the wind.
Just before dawn we had a close encounter with a tanker heading into the Port of Newcastle. Our newly installed AIS was great at providing us with the tankers speed and heading which gave me comfort it wouldn’t actually hit us, but as it slipped past less than 0.5NM behind our stern I couldn’t help wondering if they had seen us.
Best not to dwell on these things!
By 10am we had rounded into wind and were beating into Port Stephens. Heather was on the VHF to marine rescue, when half way through logging off our passage, she looked out the starboard saloon window and saw a whale! It was some distance off but the huge mammal put on an incredible display of tail slapping and provided the perfect arrival into Port Stephens!