13 March 2007

Nelson Bay

On Mooring Ball off Nelson Bay
Port Stephens, New South Wales

OK OK... So maybe when the Coast Guard is putting out "High Wind/Seas" warnings it might be a bad time to leave port!

We left Broken Bay yesterday at sundown. We had a 70 mile run north to Port Stephens. For a run of this distance, we like to go at night so we can be sure that when we arrive it will be daylight when we have to enter port.

We left Broken Bay right at sunset after we had secured everything down. We figured that with the warnings for 30 knots of wind that we would be able to make really good time. Instead, as soon as we got out Broken Bay, we had 30++++++ knots and really huge waves. We did make really great time, averaging 6 knots all night, even though we had to double reef the main and only had the stay sail out. Even that would have been alright, except it was pitch black out once the sun went down. And then it started raining sideways. I am not so sure that Amy was enthusiastic about my decision to leave when there were waves pouring into the cockpit.

Also, for some unknown reason, there is a huge backlog of ships anchored out along the coast that are waiting to pull into Botany Bay (where all the shipping terminals are). Between the rain storms we saw well over 100 ships anchored along a stretch of 50 miles. Luckily we were able to sail just on the outside of them. Although once and awhile there was a ship moving around amongst all the anchored ships just to make things more confusing for us.

This is a really strange place for ships to be anchored. They are 3 miles off shore and there is no protection. Basically they are anchored in the open ocean.

We made the harbor entrance at Port Stephens right at sunrise this morning. With 30 knots of wind behind us, we surfed right into the harbor. There are free mooring buoys for visiting boats, and that is where we are currently moored.

They are known for their Dolphins here. Sure enough they are swimming all along the bay. We are planning on staying here for several days, and will give further brief once we explore a bit.

Nelson Bay is a small town in Port Stephens, which is larger in size than Sydney Harbor. Except there are only a few towns along the bay front. One strange thing that we did find out when we took our dingy in is that Port Stevens is the sister city to Bellingham, Washington, where Sandpiper is really from. Weird! I lived there for 4 years and that was never brought to my attention.

More when it happens,

Tom and Amy

Notes From Ron:

  • I have no idea why the town is called "Nelson Bay", and the bay it is on is called "Port Stephens". Sounds totally backwards to me.
  • Botany Bay is the large bay on the south side of Sydney where the airport and shipping terminals are.
  • The reason they saw so many ships anchored waiting to go into the harbor is because it is coming off a weekend. The dockworkers get paid more for weekend work. So ships that arrive over the weekend find it cheaper to anchor off shore and wait for weekday labor rates instead of having to pay more to be loaded/unloaded over Saturday or Sunday. We get the same thing over here in Perth. By Sunday night there is usually a dozen ships anchored offshore.

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