Surfer's Paradise, Australia
 March 17, 2018     |      read entry >


Fishing trawler, Fleetwing, navigating the Iluka/Yamba bar crossing on April 4th, 2009

March 17, 2018 (day 3,943)
Quick Fix: 27° 57.0 S / 153° 25.4 E
Conditions:  Wind: 12/SE Sky: Clear

Crossing the Bar
For the last few days, while waiting for cyclone Linda to pass, we've sought refuge on the Clarence River and in the charming coastal towns of Iluka and Yamba - home to a fearless fleet of commercial fishermen and sailors, many of whom have stories of notorious bar crossings - the kind where vessels and crew, eager to reach the sanctuary of safe harbor, get rolled by giant seas while crossing the shallow entrance. We've heard terrifying tales of boats knocked-down, rolling 360 degrees and even pitch-poling (flipping end over end) while navigating these treacherous waters. According to one local, the Clarence River boasts 17 pubs, and photos of fishing trawler Fleetwing navigating the bar crossing in 2009, can even be seen printed on the side of a local bottle shop. It's a sobering image and perhaps a warning to mariners that if conditions are really that bad, the only bar that's worth crossing is the one that's serving beer!


Mar 15, 2018     |     Calming. A nice walk along Pippi Beach to check the surf conditions offshore.


March 13, 2018 (day 3,939)
Quick Fix: 29° 24.7 S / 153° 21.0 E
Conditions:  Wind: 14/SE Sky: Mostly clear

Lucky Thirteen
It's tropical storm season here in Australia and as luck would have it tropical storm number Thirteen, which has just been upgraded to cyclone Linda, is heading in our general direction. We began Leg 4 of our Sydney to Thailand voyage with hopes of sailing from Coffs Harbour direct to Southport in Queensland, but Linda kinda got in the way. For safety we ducked into the Clarence River - Australia's second largest river and the biggest on the eastern shoreline - where we'll hunker down for a few days to let Linda swing south before we venture back out to sea. She's forecast to deliver 10 - 15 foot swell to the area, and as the Clarence River entrance has a notorious bar crossing, where even gentle waves can unexpectedly rise-up and break along the entrance in terrifying hull-crushing tidal waves, we should be in for quite a show. Photos to follow...


Mar 9, 2018     |     A little santuary in Coffs Harbour.

March 9, 2018 (day 3,935)
Quick Fix: 30° 18.2 S / 153° 08.8 E
Conditions:  Wind: 20-33/SE Sky: Cloudy with rain

Solace in Shiraz
When locals sail up the coast of Australia, specifically from Sydney to Brisbane, they'll tell you, 'mate, keep your left foot in the sand', meaning sail as close to the shoreline as safety or courage will allow. The reason - the East Australian Current, or EAC, which can flow like a river, at times reaching up to 4 knots in speed, a delight when you're running south but a battle when heading north. Our passage yesterday, a mere 160 nautical miles, was an uphill slog, it felt like we were towing a sea anchor, I even checked to see if we were dragging a crab pot. With wind gusting to 33 knots from the south, surfing on waves reaching 10 feet and the engine running hard, we were still lucky to manage a measly 4 knots over ground. It was a tough, wet, bumpy, diesel sucking passage, all for just two latitudes gained climbing from Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour. We made it in just before dusk where I found solace in a bottle of Shiraz.


Mar 7, 2018     |     Standing on the top of Tomaree's Head, looking down to Dream Time's anchorage in Port Stephens.


March 5, 2018 (day 3,931)
Quick Fix: 32° 42.9 S / 152° 10.2 E
Conditions:  Wind: 20/SE Sky: Cloudy

41 Latitudes
Yesterday we began a 4,000 nautical mile journey, one that will ultimately carry us out of the southern hemisphere - a region we've called home for 10 years - and back into the northern, all the way up in to Thailand. We'll be crossing 41 latitudes, from 33 degrees south to 8 degrees north and, in keeping with tradition, Dream Time managed a very modest 20 miles on her first day sailing from Sydney Harbour to Pittwater. A wind warning brought a lively 30 knots of southerlies that carried us briskly along the coast, past the wild surf swept cliffs of North Head and, sadly, away from friends, a harbor, and a city that we will greatly miss. Our second day delivered a more civilized 20 knots of southeasterlies in conditions so sublime I just had to turn 'Lewie', our autopilot, off and hand steer. So that's what I did, all the way to Port Stephens, another 70 miles up the coast. We're now in latitude 32 south, only 40 more to go...





Day 3,929 - Sydney, Australia
17:03hrs - March 3, 2018
Farewell Sydney, Till We Meet Again

It’s gradually coming to the end of summer here, and that means it’s time for us to leave Sydney Harbour and head north, so I’ve been trying to write a little something down to help me remember the things that have been important and special to me while we’ve been here. But it’s been frustrating because I was having trouble finding the right words and I’ve basically been going around in circles not getting anything down, but I’ve finally figured out why - I am just not ready to leave Sydney!  It’s actually that simple, I’ve fallen in love with Sydney and I’m not ready to say goodbye. 

We have had such an epic time here and met such a lot of very groovy people and it seems like there is still so much left to do, and because it seems unlikely we’ll be here again any time soon (although, never say never) it feels like we can’t leave yet. I feel like I need one more of everything, just one more! One more Manly ferry ride, one more sunny day wandering around aimlessly in the botanic gardens, one more day watching the crazy 18-footers race around while dodging the Sunday afternoon harbor traffic.

I have fallen head over heels for Sydney. It’s now absolutely my favorite city, apart from New York of course! And there are so many things to love about it, but I do have a top three:

1. All the Sydney ferries, but particularly the four Manly Ferries because they brilliantly never have to go backwards. I have an especially soft spot for the Collaroy because I got the chance to sail from the circular quay to Manly and back to circular quay again on the bridge deck in the company of the a very obliging £10.00 Pom (a British migrant to Australia who came after the 2nd World War, they only had to pay £10 to migrate and the government paid the rest) Captain Chris McDonald. So silly, I think I have actually become the ferry equivalent of a train spotter! 

2. Every green and beautiful inch of the full 74 acres of the spectacular Royal Botanic Gardens, but in particular, every single tree and the very cool still to be occupied newly constructed micro bat residence!

3. And all the many many wildly enthusiastic very impressive never say die racing yachts that make Sydney HarboUr their chaotic and hair raising racetrack whatever the day whatever the weather.

So there it is, I’m not ready to leave yet. But as the season shifts so must we, and I can already feel my heart breaking just a little bit.