Firstly, I offer my apologies - to all those who were unable to attend!
I have no photos or vids, but it DID happen! On Thursday I launched at an almost deserted single ramp at Pindimar South, which was saving my 135kms return trip to Salamander Bay where we were to meet up. I noted that the ramp led to a tidal flat more than 100 metres across, and that whichever day I returned would not see high enough tides til about 11pm...
I headed out into Port Stephens on a very humid day with my destination upwind (but hardly any of it). I called up Russ (Slaughter in his AI) but being unfamiliar with local landmarks, I finished up taking almost three hours to catch up with him and Ian (P14WD, up from Victoria in his TI) as we sorta chased each other. It was a good omen that all Islands were the correct colour (dune
Eventually we reached Salamander Bay, to meet Mark (Stringy in his hibiscus AI) and Doris, Ian's wife who had stayed ashore due to a cold. Doris had bought some delicious fish and chips, and also had an Esky of ice water, which was really really welcome, as we had all drained a lot of our onboard supplies in the heat.
Call us woosses, but the thought of leaving the shade to drift around in the heat didn't appeal, so our lunch hour kept getting extended. I had walked into the water fully clothed to cool down, but my gear dried out in no time.
Ian tested his MOB recovery system, which was a rope loop with a soft foam "step", and was easily able to climb back onto his TI.
A yum yum yellow AI appeared, and the owner was pleased to see four other Islands alongside his 2007 AI.
In due course, the wind arrived again, so we sailed off again, with Ian joining us before sailing back to his accommodation site in Lemon Tree Passage. So the three of us had a great sail, eventually finding Fame Cove as a possible overnight stop. This cove was perfect shelter (and had been used many years ago by sailing ships), although there were a few gin palaces making nuisances of themselves (do you really need a 42" TV on your boat with mega volume speakers? I don't think so), trying their best to destroy the otherwise lovely serenity of the cove surrounded by national park.
Mark set up his brilliant onboard accommodation, which consists of FOUR hakas which come together completely covering the AI hull, then erecting a bimini (like many powerboats use these days), and THEN erected a tent beneath the bimini! He then fired up his butane stove and began a flow of fresh coffee for everyone during our outing. Classy!
Of course, Russ, who had earlier apologised when he discovered the pavlova shell had turned to sugar the night before the trip - (bugger, but full points for the intention mate!), set up his awesome hammock system, which needs a photo to explain, but works like a charm.
Meanwhile, I set up on the shore, where there was no beach at high tide, so I erected my small tent over 15 inch high grass, hoping there were no rocks under the grass. Soon all three of us had our butane stoves going ($12 a pop at Kmart - how good is that, with 4 cans of butane for only $6) cooking dinner.
By the time the others were ready to turn in, the tide had come is so much that water was up to their waists by the time they waded out to their AIs!
The night was so hot that I had to sleep with my tent opened, partly reassured by Russ's words that the only animals likely to be around were bush rats, but I had no trouble sleeping.
In the morning, I felt something between my eye and my sunnies, and brushed it aside. Can you imagine my concern when a few minutes later, something crawled across my other eyeball! I could see its shape as it blocked the light. YUCK!!! I flicked it off, and Russ identified it as a 10-15mm black spider. It took me a while to stop shuddering at the memory of its little feet literally walking on my naked eyeball...
The guys headed off exploring (and frankly I misheard them), so when I had packed up, I headed out to look for them. In fact they had headed UP the creek looking for potential campsites, but I had headed out into Port Stephens. By now we had plenty of wind, so it was fun whether alone of in company. In due course they appeared from Fame Cove, and we sailed off in great weather.
Around lunch time we came ashore near the Soldiers Point Sailing Club, and once again, Mark produced some lovely coffees. The day kept getting better!
Russ decided to call it a day and head back to his car, Mark decided to camp out another night and explore more, while I decided to head off too, as my ancient bones were feeling a bit tender from all the physical effort.
Not surprisingly, my destination was to windward, and by now a nasty chop had developed, 2-3 feet high but only about 10 feet between peaks. With half the sail furled, I was able to average about 5 knots, but it was REALLY wet, as it was impossible to avoid plowing through waves, bringing over a foot over water past the mast. I headed across to the northern side where the waves were slightly less hectic, and so I tacked away when depth got less than 4 feet and again when it got more than 20 feet.
Soon I returned to my launch point (where soon is actually defined as two hours of wet sailing after lunch!) and by then the sand flat had less than 6 inches of water on it. I was unable to get closer than 50 yards from the dried out ramp, so grabbed some supplies and settled in under a tree for a long wait (expected to be about five hours until the tide came in).
After an hour or so, the residents of one of the local houses came out, and very kindly grabbed my dry bags and Esky, and then carried my TI onto its trailer. Wow, that was a nice end to a top two day outing!
I can hardly wait til the next overnighter...