Gold Coast to Lord Howe Island…… AND home safely

Gold Coast to Lord Howe

We enjoy good northerly winds of 18 to 35 knots. Following seas give a comfortable ride but the 2 to 4 meter swell rolls the boat so one feels like a theme park ride has bolted with us!

Our progress is better than expected doing 5 to 9 knots and winds stay favourable but after two days we realise we could arrive before dark the next day so we motor sail. Indeed we arrive just intime for the local police to guide us into our mooring. 2 days 6 hours.

Hooking up the mooring was unusually difficult so I’m glad I had Werner and David to manage that.

Halcyon2 was now safe while we took the dinghy ashore to explore the island. Initially on foot then graduating to bicycles. Local hires were very reasonable at $9 per day. No need to lock as it’s a trusting place. So nice.

Some days were so windy that we hesitated to go ashore. Waves in the lagoon washed into the dinghy most days. Lucky it was 24 to 26 degrees.

We find a good local store to have coffee. This became our regular drop in place.

Saturday 24/11

Dinghy near drowning. Strong winds bring strong waves. We were running out of beach to beach it. A stern chain and an anchor looked promising. 

Poor dinghy was tossed and swamped after just one coffee. 

Bale out and dry the motor. What’s missing???

Onto the next bay with less wind and more beach. 

Lucky I’m with resourceful people. 

We cycle the length and breadth of the islands roads. Watched planes land and birds play in the thermals near the dramatic southern peaks. 

We eventually find it safer to anchor the dinghy out rather than be tossed on the beach. 

The Island Trader spent a few days at the jetty attracting many fork lifters and items to deliver the supplies. 

Sunday 25/11

Halcyon is moored according to explicit local instructions. It was heavy work attaching two separate ropes to the eye under the buoy (and wondering how long before they would fatally chauffe). Wondering also if they had seen how user friendly other moorings were in Whitsundays or The Hawkesbury. 

Mooring ropes inspected just in time. Worn through in two days. Chain now attached in an authorative way, the details of which I spared myself. 

Then off to the island for a walk. Up to the northern hills from Old Settlement beach via a stepped path to Kim’s lookout and on to Mount Malabar then around to the ridge hovering over Ned’s beach then down a grassy hill back to the jetty. 

Spectacular views from many perches. 

Dear dinghy was floating patiently on its anchor when we returned. 

Monday 26/11/18

Lord Howe island has us captive. High winds are promised for the week until Friday. Day by day the predicted and the reality compare. Windy and windy. 

We meet the local meteorologist Amy and concur. 

We stay aboard and Werner gets the old Singer sewing and other shipshape chores done. David splices some rope and reads. I read and cook. 

The wind is unrelenting. 25-30 knots plus gusts. 

Wednesday evening. Dark and stormy. The staysail is flapping in 58knots!!! It has wine glasses and ropes were tangled. No time for waterproofs.…..,…..

The sail is saved! 

The lightening show is incredible. Fork lightening that spread across the sky and down like Xmas decorations in a jungle. 

The extreme wind persisted. 

Tuesday 27/11

We meet Peter and Ollie while having coffee. Later we drop in and enjoy a chat at their hotel while sharing lunch. Peter had sailed all over on boats with magnificent proportions and owners while his earlier career was in distilling and winemaking. Ollie stared in architecture and used it in clothing design. Earlier she enjoyed 4 years in png in 1980’s. They were also waiting for weather to sail home on a lovely 1950’s wooden boat with Phil. There is an annual gathering of wooden boats on Lord Howe. Wi fi was shared- hard to live without 

Wednesday 28/11

We wake to silence! 

Funny how that can be deafening. 

Werner up early. Sail is changed to Yankee then a snorkel after breakfast. Just near our mooring was a hole with fresh water spring. Beautiful corals. Different ones to the Whitsundays. 

‘SHARK’

A 6 foot reef shark spoils the moment. 

Guess he was friendly….as we are still intact. 

Over in the Coral Gardens near the outer edge of the lagoon we are impressed. Big purple coral, fine white flowing coral and tan tall mushroom like coral are among a few we saw. Sorry no photos atm of corals. 

David had a paddle and with the water so clear it was easy to see meters down. 

Later on the island….A little walk in the rainforest then up to the liquor shop then drop in to Peter and Ollie (Olwyn). More enjoyable time with fellow captives. 

Thursday 29/11

Continued strong wind. I’m learning to estimate force by the amount Halcyon heels over at the mooring. 30 knots needed for starters then up to 58 or 60 knots and we are spinning on the chain. The Predict Wind programme had grey gust areas of 50 knots nearby so they got it right. 

Friday 30/11

Still only 0200, 0300, 0330 and still being rocked by wind. 

Saturday 1/12

Day onboard Halcyon2. 

David ventures to coffee shop and Joys for apples and yummy sourdough bread. 

Sunday 2/12

A calm morning!!! On y va or snorkel. 

We snorkel this time in the northern bay and the deep hole off Settlement beach. See a stingray and a doubleheader fish. No lacy coral around the yellow marker as hoped. Apparently springs bring fresh water here. 

David paddles the kayak for the morning via Tomo’s coffee of course.

1500hrs Simon clears us to depart. We are on our way by 1530hrs. 

We sail west to utilise the breeze. There are two fronts with a mixed zone in between. Amy, from thé LH I weather station said one should expect some storms along this line so last nights storm was expected. 

The westerly arrives later and we adjust course more northerly then again when the south easterly blows in tomorrow evening. Predict wind has been pleasantly accurate. 

Now in a blue, near doldrums space for at least 24 to 30 hours so motoring. Rolling action sometimes eased by a sail but not enough wind. 

Sunset. Last chance to personify waves on the horizon. Is that a whale or a boat? Life of Pi could have a sequel. In the dark thé chart plotters miss all the flying fish and dissolve the ocean into numbers. 4000m deep and 201 nm to go. 

Venus and the moon shine through some light cloud. 

Diesel fumes linger in the pilot house so I open the side windows. Such a mild night. 

Still no ships seen on AIS. 

One evening on the return passage it is calm enough to put the table out the back and have cheese and beer. Such a changing place. 

If the sea was a person it would have a diagnoses like multipolar! 

We arrive at Southport at 0200hrs. 2 days and 10 hours. 

Anchor. Sleep. 

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