Wednesday, 8 August 2012


It is Saturday 4th August 2012 and the wind has died to less than 10 knots and the seas have calmed somewhat.

The Govt. weather and Buoyweather are closer this time. Both predicting a swell from the SE about 1.5M , seas between 1 and 1.4 M and winds up to 10 knots from the WSW in the  morning and from the ENE in the afternoon.

The recommended practice is to cross the bar at Yamba / Iluka after 3 hours after low tide. However low tide at Yamba today will be 3.45pm and we do not want to wait till 6,45pm to cross the bar after dark . So I  called  the Iluka/Yamba VMR the night before and they reported  that conditions were  fair and it should be ok to cross anytime as long as conditions did not change(  and assuming depth is not an issue).

I estimated  the trip would take approx. 6 hours assuming we average 10 knts ( which includes the 30 mins each end of the trip  releasing ropes and getting  across the bars and travelling  to where ever we  tie up or anchor as the case may be ).

We left the marina at 6.00am and planned to cross the bar at Yamba at about 12.30pm. The exit from the Coffs Harbour breakwalls was smooth and into a rising sun , and as soon as we cleared the breakwalls  we registered the first way point as South Solitary Island , and began our search for dolphins and whales.
leaving the Coffs Harbour outer harbour, looking back at the historic jetty, just before full sunrise
looking outside the Coffs Harbour breakwall, just before sunrise
sunrise just outside Coffs Harbour
South Solitary Island

The seas were smooth at this point and we made 10.3 kts at 1200 rpm using 52 l/h total.

There were plenty of dolphins that came to visit LAST WORD  for a swim and a smile around our bow and whales either side.

We mainly sat on 1220 rpm between 8.8 and 10 kts and every 90 mins or so I opened up the throttles to 2200rpm for 5 mins or so (22 to 23 kts )  then 1850 for another 10 mins, just to clean out the engines and exhausts and keep the 10 kt average for the trip.
hoping along about 100 rpm under full throttle every 90 mins or so fr 5 mins then 10 mins at about 1850 rpm to clean out the engines and exhausts, and keep the average speed to around 10 kts 

To pass the time I marked up the paper charts and answered some emails and caught up on some phone messages and shot more temperatures down in the engine room. I then sent some email inquires  to various marinas we thought we may stay in along the trip, asking  about availability, prices and facilities.

I then telephoned my brother , Graeme , who lives in Surfers Paradise, and invited him to drive down to join us on board for a couple of days while we explored the lower reaches of the Clarence River. Graeme readily accepted the offer , and the rear admiral said she would prepare a salad and bake a  chicken for dinner, and Graeme should bring fresh bread rolls.

For most of the passage the wind was mainly from the west between 5 and 10 kts and for a stage the seas got sloppy and confused, and the even the swell changed as it seemed to come from the NE (instead of the SE where it has been for the last couple of weeks) and we were slowed to 8+ kts.

At 11.00am, while doing another higher rpm run, we passed Sandon Bluffs  , and at 11.30pm Brooms Head.

Due to the slower section mentioned above we arrived at the Yamba bar at 12.45pm, and even though the bar looked calm we radioed Iluka/Yamba VMR ( 6646 6311 ) for a confirmatory check all was ok, which it was, so we proceeded to cross the bar. The tide was midway on a falling tide and we had about 1 M above dead low.
Yamba on approach

I telephoned Yamba Marina ( 6646 9245 ) and was told that we could berth there , but they needed to know within the next 15 mins whether to leave a key out for us. We told them we would visit them tomorrow as we would anchor at Iluka.

We crossed the bar, hugging the southern breakwall,  then switched to the center of the channel , at the end of Moriarty's Wall , and proceeded straight past the hole in the wall on our port side  ( which is the recommended entrance in the stone wall if one is proceeding to the Yamba Marina ).
looking across LAST WORD  at the bar entrance waters . Very calm.
the hole in the wall. One goes through here to venture on to the Yamba marina on the south side of the Clarence . It is not a big opening , and at high tide the wall is  covered by water ie largely unseen (other than by the markers)

As we headed for the first (eastern most ) break in the breakwall around the Iluka fish co-op and mooring area , I closely monitored the depths as we would probably be leaving at a lower tide on our outgoing journey to Southport ). We recorded some clearances of less than a M, but that was ok ( provided we could follow the same route when leaving).

Just before entering the break in the wall to Iluka harbour, we had to change direction for an outcoming fishing vessel. One has to be careful, as the entrance is probably only about 15 to 20 M wide.

On entering the inner harbour,  at Iluka, we dog legged a little to the right then to the  left to avoid the shoal just inside and to the left of the hole in the breakwall. There were about twenty vessels at anchor inside the harbour and we motored through the middle and let down the anchor ( 16 M in  2.5 M of water), west of all the other boats and closer to the breakwall. At some stages motoring through the inner harbour  we had less than 1 M under the props.
a shot of the screen showing the Iluka harbour on the right  (sorry about the glare from the flash)
stirring up the bottom in 2.5 m getting ready to drop and set the anchor

Coffs to Yamba/Iluka is 60 NM and took 6.5 hours ( including 0.75 idle hours ). Fuel used was 424 L total, so av speed was 9.1 kts at av fuel of 64 l/h total.

After setting the anchor, I gave LAST WORD  a quick bath to use up some of the horrible water we took on board at Coffs. Not only was the Coffs water foul to taste, but it left dirty water marks all over the boat, So, all I really achieved, was swapping thick salt residue for dirty windows and stainless.

Whilst waiting for Graeme (and Andrea ) to arrive , I launched the main tender, and decide to look over the fishing fleet and sound the depths of the  inner harbour for future reference.

The leak in the starboard rear boob of the tender was back ( meaning the air in that boob was gone )  and I had to pump it back up before setting off on my exploration. I reported the leak to  rear admiral Julie, ( who was already busy, beading and on the telephone to her business partner, Dixie, whilst organising the nights baked meal). At first I did not think the rear admiral had heard my complaint about the tender , however, I was mistaken , as  ( whilst doing several things at once ) the rear admiral disengaged her ear from the telephone, stopped wrestling with the (dead ) chook , and told me " you had better take the pump then ....." The rear admiral's concern for the captain's safety was duly noted in the ship's log , and off I set.

After exploring the immediate surroundings , I picked up Graeme and Andrea from the public floating pontoon in front of the local pub and we had drinks on LAST WORD'S cockpit,  and enjoyed the warm  sun soaked afternoon followed by a lovely  sunset followed by a magnificent feast for dinner. The sunset was particularly strong due to the smoke from the burn off that was taking place in several locations nearby.
picture of LAST WORD  taken just before sunset after Graeme and  Capt. barry went for a short tender ride
sunset at last

We then watched some of the Olympic coverage, made plans to explore Yamba , and Maclean ( and maybe the girls would visit the local Iluka  markets) and retired for the evening.

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