This post is about our passage from Newcastle to Port Stephens. Port Stephens is twice the size of Sydney Harbour, has 26 beaches, monumental sand dunes – the largest in the southern hemisphere – and offers a front row view of some of the largest creatures on earth, commonly referred to as the Humpback highway.
Friday 10 July 2020
We stayed only one night at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club as we knew there was a deep low pressure system coming and it was going to whip up blustery winds and powerful waves along parts of the New South Wales coast. We chose NCYC as we were unaware of any other marinas with berths in Newcastle. However, later we heard about another one closer to the CBD, which has 6 berths with power and water. For details you can read about the Honeysuckle Marina. Anyway, after one night we headed to from Newcastle to Port Stephens on Friday 10 July.
This map shows the route we took and the waypoints I’d entered into our Garmin. Before leaving Newcastle Harbour, we checked commercial shipping entering/leaving the harbour at the same time as us, and we also let them know about our movements.
We also logged in with Marine Rescue Newcastle and they took our details – number of passengers, contact phone number aboard, destination and ETA. They also transferred us to Marine Rescue Port Stephens.
Our passage from Newcastle to Port Stephens was relatively calm but noticeably colder than the day before. While we normally motor from the flybridge to give greatest visibility, this time we motored part of the journey from the pilot house, which is enclosed and warmer, but it reminded us that we need a seat there for motoring!
This time we saw a large pod of dolphins around the entrance to Newcastle Harbour and also during our voyage. We also spotted some whales but much further away in the distance so I couldn’t get any decent photos. Maybe the first day was our best for whale sightings, as shown in my blog, Brooklyn to Lake Macquarie.
One point to note is that when I planned the passage on my paper chart, I was unaware of an isolated danger marker right where my path was planned. There was no issue, as it was quite visible from a distance, but it has reinforced to me that I cannot rely on one source of information for my passage planning. Similarly, the entrance to Port Stephens has some areas of very shallow water so you must be quite alert to the beacons – posts attached to the seabed – used to indicate safe channels, dangerous areas and recreational areas.
We arrived at Soldiers Point Marina close to my estimated time and they provided assistance when we reversed into the berth, which made Robert’s job much easier.
The marina is also has a few restaurants onsite. You can read about some of the facilities on their website:
Having access to a courtesy car and push bikes is great, but currently weather here is awful so not conducive to cycling!
The weather here started to change on Sunday 12 July and since then, it’s been cold and blustery with occasional rain! We’ve also seen a maximum of 77 km/hour on our weather station. In fact, we’ve kept the two cats inside for fear they might get blown off the deck if they go outside!