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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekend Work

Macca is blasting out the radio as I put together a few photos of the Trial Bay Goal taken the night before last. Amazing place. Built by convicts 120 years ago in what must have been dangerous, backbreaking work. The remains of the breakwater they tried to build simply amazes us. How the heck did they shift such huge boulders?

It's fairly rolly in Trial Bay, enough to make us find a handhold whenever we move about, or stand on the balls of our feet and let the boat rock back and forth.

Got tired of that after two nights, so I roused the crew at daybreak Saturday then fired up the donk and we left. Forty miles to the next place, with the coast around here fairly straight running. There are no bits sticking out to hide behind and swell sweeps across the ocean unimpeded, striking Australia with great force. So we rolled even more as we entered the ocean and headed south.

The shock we had straight away was sighting so many dead trees on the headland near the famous Smoky Cape Lighthouse. Trees grow old and die in every forest, they loose their leaves and stand as skeletons until the trunk weakens and fall. But it’s not normal to see such great patches of gray skeletons on what would normally be forested hillside. We’re seeing this far more often now. Rising salt or what's called ‘dieback’, or maybe drought is causing it. Or maybe its pollution from the skies? Heaven knows, we only know it’s a feature everywhere we travel.

Our Saturday voyage saw scenery pass slowly until a collection of buildings signaled our next port o’call at Port Macquarie. Never been in there before, and since it’s a barred river, one with a reputation for being dangerous, our apprehension levels rose as we scurried round getting the boat ready for what could be heavily breaking water.

I called the Coast Guard and got a bit of guidance, they said the bar had recently shifted so not to follow the leads in. We could see that as we approached. Breakers rolled in across the opening so we kept close along the north shore. To a couple of old foxes like us, it was fun having some adrenalin flow through our veins while Banyandah sailed inside white water.

Once in, as we handed the sails, with the shore mad with holiday makers, some waved and we waved back while searching where to go. It’s always disconcerting coming into a new place. Especially where there is plenty of shallows waiting for a moments lapse of concentration. To be safe we parked right in the middle of the river, had a cuppa, and look about with the binoculars. Meanwhile heaps of speed boats rushed passed. Too busy there, and since we’d spied a quieter spot nearer the town, we picked up our anchor and threaded more shallows to a pond filled with other yachts. But, no room for us there. Oh well, we finally picked up a mooring buoy and thought we’d hang there till thrown off.

As darkness came, a festival began just a stone’s throw from our door. Carols by candlelight filled the cabin till bedtime. No sooner under the bed covers, we were up again to watch a huge fireworks display. Nice first night. Tell you more tomorrow.

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