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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sail Three - Into Uncertainty

Not sure how this day will turn out. It has begun rather overcast with a sultry northerly wind just starting to stir up a demon that's forcast to howl this afternoon. We’re still in Coffs Harbour, still anchored outside the inner break-wall that separates those who pay from those who do not. Funny, years ago that secure, calm water was free to all. Then a floating marina with walk-ashore facilities was built, and now you must pay a hefty fee just to tie up overnight. No free lunches anymore. Those of us on a lower cruising budgets must anchor in the mild swell of the outer harbour, and roll back and forth - or not stay at all.

Back to today. The next safe anchorage is Port Macquarie about 70 nm south of us. That’s another two hours sailing than what we did to get here, and we’d need to be there in daylight because it’s a river blocked by a bar that we have never crossed before, so it could be dangerous. But, due to a lack of an definite plan, we slept in. And now, with the wind just arriving, the clock shows we’re far too late to make Port in daylight.

Complicating our decision-making has been the weather forecast, which is still rather indecisive itself. It’ll blow from the north the bureau tells us, and then sometime in the evening it might change to nothing, or a southerly, or keep blowing from the north. This had me initially thinking of going only 35 nautical miles to a bay open to the north at Smoky Cape. My original plan had been to leave here late, with enough time to reach Trial Bay, where I had hope the north wind would evaporate, leaving us a safe place to pass the night. That seems unlikely now. One forecast this morning says the north wind will blow all night, and that would make Trial Bay untenable.

Shame that, we've been there by road and its a beautiful place with a historic goal built entirely of stone. It would have been grand to park there for a wander about.

But now we’ll just leave when we’re ready, sail all we can and if we get to Port Macquarie in the early morning hours, we’ll simply hove-to and wait for first light. Ugh, that means we’ll be out all night. Probably won't get much sleep. So be it. Stay tune for the outcome.

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