Crew on Board
Jamie, flew from Tasmania to join me. It was good to have a seasoned sailor with me for the final push to Sydney – Port Jackson. Jamie has sailed the world and has amazing stories of his experiences. I though he might like to have a meal and a sleep on board Ellie at Coff’s Harbour and set off early the next day. But I was a little concerned we had window of opportunity with the weather. The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting worsening conditions in 3-days time. Ocean conditions I did not want to find myself and Ellie in. When I told Jamie the weather forecast he responded straight away with “Let’s go now”. I did not hesitate. Ellie was ready to go. I figured we had about an hour of daylight left but there was to be a full moon and clear skies. I knew we might encounter some wind at some stage during the night but the forecast was improving for us.
I was confident Ellie could handle the forecast weather. As a skipper you need to know what your boat is capable of and play it safe. I opened the Marine Rescue App’ and entered our passage plan. We departed, embracing the freedom to leave when we chose and we felt excited as Ellie’s heart throbbed reassuringly under our feet.
We slipped out of Coff’s Harbour and set a course South South East. We were searching for the great and powerful East Australia Current that moves the ocean in massive eddies hundreds of kilometres wide between Australia and New Zealand. If we could catch the current Ellie’s speed over the ground would be boosted by up to 3 or even 4 knots. There is a saying in the sailing community that when you cruise the east coast of Australia you have one foot in the ocean and one foot on the sand. Keeping land in sight is important when plotting a position on a hard copy chart. But going deeper enables vessels to access the strong east coast current.
Our course took us into the darkness, our radar keeping us safe and alerting us to shipping and land. We found the east coast current in the deeper water. The depth was 80 metres at times and the east coast current pushed Ellie south as if she had a tailwind. It was amazing to experience the power of that moving water.
However the swell was building up from the North East which suited us as Ellie surfed. In these ideal conditions I left Jamie at the helm and I went into the galley to prepare our evening meal. It would be hot Quiche Lorraine and salad. We shared a glass of wine. After dinner we relaxed into a rhythm of watch taking for it was out intention now to not stop until we arrived into Sydney – Port Jackson. I let Jamie have the first sleep.
Every hour I would complete the ships log, noting our exact position in latitude and longitude, critical engine numbers such as oil pressure, temperature, charging rate of the batteries. I also called into the relevant marine rescue centre for our scheduled updates on progress. There is always something to do on a boat. Keeping watch at night is a critical safety issue as would become evident later in our passage. But for now, it was smooth sailing and a calm sea.
At 2 am we passed Port Maquarie and were making good time. Visibility was good.
It was my turn to rest. Jamie woke up when was radioing our position to Marine Rescue Port Maquarie. He made himself a brew in the galley whilst I slipped into my bunk. I was tired and I slept.