We've all been waiting--bring it on!
OK, here's my account. We all met at Shoal Bay on a sunny and auspicious morning. We drew the usual crowd of curious onlookers as we prepared the boats and a couple remarked that is was a bit choppy outside of the harbour. We shrugged and blithely sailed off through the heads into a ....hmmmm, whats the word?... oh yeah, maelstrom. So, we got totally hammered for about 3km. After we passed Cabbage Tree Island, to the North, things got better. The swell was still big, but at least it was all heading in the one direction.
I arrived at Broughton
a little ahead of the others and proceeded to sail into the wrong bay and ended up chest deep in turbulent water, dragging my boat off some rocks. By this time, the others had arrived (at the correct destination) and radioed the Coastal Patrol that they had arrived but were missing one member. Fortunately, I was able to find them after about 45 minutes, before the rescue helicopter was dispatched.
Here's Esmerelda Cove, our destination:
and here's the bay where I landed:
Slaughter suggested that if I hadn't survived, they might have been able to have it named Chrisj Bay. That peak on the horizon, is the Northern Headland of Port Stephens, where we had come from.
There were some people staying in the huts at Esmerelda Cove, so we moved a bit further around the bay to Little Poverty Beach:
The camp is top left and that's Stringy in the foreground, setting up a sun shelter.
Here's Stringy's pal Geoff, Mickeymouse, Stringy and Slaughter, sitting around the ring of stones at dusk (no campfires allowed). Please note the rectangular object next to Mickey's right knee - a four litre cask of red wine, which was certainly much appreciated as the evening wore on.
After dinner, Slaughter disappeared into his tent and produced the iconic Australian dessert, a Pavlova:
He steadfastly refused to divulge how he had got it through all that rough weather intact. All he would tell us was that his tent was now lined in whipped cream.
Unfortunately, the sea was just too rough for our planned adventure, exploring the sea caves around the island in kayak mode, so we spent the next morning exploring the island on foot. It is a wild and beautiful place. The photos speak for themselves.
We were a little apprehensive about a repeat of the previous day's conditions for the return journey, but, as it happened we had a steady following wind and swell for the trip back and everyone arrived at Port Stephens with a big Hobie grin. The swell was 2 to 2.5 metres, but with long period waves, so we got to ride the waves all the way back without any bow-burying issues.
I'm sure the others will have better photos and more lucid accounts of the journey, but that was my perspective.
Thanks fellas, it was great