This post is about our adventure from Brooklyn to Lake Macquarie, NSW. Lake Macquarie or Awaba is Australia’s largest coastal salt water lake. This is a lengthy post with many photos, so you might want to grab a cuppa before you start reading it!
Friday 26 June 2020
Our adventure started. First thing in the morning I drove our car to Gosford to a dealer who’d agreed to buy it (for a low price). Then I took a train back. Not having caught a train since about early February, I was reassured that I was not missing anything! We had track equipment repairs causing delays, plus a few other unscheduled stops – perhaps I’m a jinx – but never mind, I always enjoy the train trip along the waterway from Gosford to Hawkesbury River. If you haven’t travelled that route, I recommend you try it sometime and combine with lunch near the water at Gosford.
When I returned we finished our preparations including filling the water tanks, then said goodbye to the Fenwick’s Marina staff. We had our boat berthed there for 7 years and had lived aboard for the last 5 months, and all staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Then it was time to leave, and it felt like a pretty momentous occasion. I moved to Sydney in 1988 and Robert in 1991 (before we met each other) and we were now homeless and carless!
We motored to America’s Bay with a plan to head to Lake Macquarie either Saturday or Sunday, depending on wind, wave and swell conditions. Forecasts predicted greater wave height and swell for Saturday, so we went with our second option.
If you’re not familiar with where America’s Bay is, take a look at the accompanying map.
Saturday 27 June 2020
We decided to get a feel for what Saturday’s sea conditions were like, so we went out across the heads (passing our second waypoint – see below). It was far enough out to realise these conditions were pretty rough, we were rolling around and it was somewhat uncomfortable. Certainly the cats WERE NOT happy. Some of our drawers were slamming, things fell off the vanity in the bathroom and our wine glasses were rattling around considerably. On a positive note, it showed us that we didn’t have things secured nearly well enough. My bottle of red wine also slid off the counter onto the wooden floor. Luckily it didn’t break but there is a bit of a dent in the wood. So we spent the rest of Saturday securing everything so that no further damage would occur. And, we hadn’t even thought to put our life jackets on! This won’t happen again. Oh, and it was too rough to take photos while we were on this trip.
Sunday 28 June 2020
We set the alarm just in case we needed it! Of course we woke with excitement early, around 5am so we had a good cooked breakfast before finally leaving America’s Bay at 7am. Immediately we could tell that the sea conditions were better than the day before and we commenced our voyage from Brooklyn to Lake Macquarie, via Swansea Heads.
This map shows the route we took from Brooklyn to Lake Macquarie. I’d named the waypoints (WPT) with the approximate location on the map. It looks like veered off course and missed a few WPTs, and partly that’s because it’s not an exact science and I tended to take a few shortcuts!
During our voyage Robert commented that he’d probably have had about 3 points. I decided in this situation more was better!
When we passed WPT: 001WESTHD I logged on with Marine Rescue Sydney and provided details of our voyage and estimated arrival time. I actually added an hour to the time, in case we experienced delays. As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary as we met each waypoint in the time I’d estimated and arrived at Swansea right on time.
The trip up the coast was breathtaking. We started seeing dolphins and whales when we reached the Skillion at Terrigal (WPT: 004SKILION). And we continued seeing whales right up to Swansea Heads. I’ve never seen anything like this first hand. The photos of the whales and dolphins have been taken from video so the quality isn’t great, but nevertheless, they still look fantastic to me.
Fortunately, there were no shipping containers, although there were regular sécurité’s broadcast about them on the VHF marine radio.
On Sunday 24 May APL England lost about 50 shipping containers when it hit rough seas. These containers have been seen in the area we were travelling and all vessels were urged to pay close attention to any debris still floating. Incidentally, the master of the ship has been charged with two offenses related to discharging garbage into the sea and failure to ensure his vessel was operated in a safe manner.
We arrived at Swansea Heads around midday and checked with Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie as to the bar conditions and depth of water. Conditions were pretty close to perfect so I took the helm and we did our first bar crossing. It was completely uneventful, just what I wanted! We proceeded along the channel to Swansea Bridge to await the 1pm opening. Robert took us through the bridge and into Lake Macquarie.
We quickly found Marks Point Marina, shown on the map, and identified a mooring to pick up. That’s when things went a bit amiss!
I was motoring the boat and shallow water alarms started sounding. Robert and I agreed to give the mooring a miss and find another one. Suddenly one of the engines stopped – or maybe both of them did – I wasn’t quite sure. Robert started them again and we were able to pick up another mooring in slightly deeper water. But a couple of boats had followed us and advised we’d actually motored across the mooring and broken the rope with our propeller.
Unfortunately, Robert had to jump in and free the prop of the rest of the mooring that was caught around it. At just over 15°C, I felt very sorry for him. I would have paid a diver to come and do it! After our 40 or so nautical miles that went so well, I felt a little disappointed, but we live and learn.
So here we are at Lake Macquarie. We’ll spend some time later this week exploring the area before working out when the conditions are suitable to head to Newcastle.