Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: Broken Bay and beyond

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Broken Bay and beyond

When places are named after Governors, locations can be confusing. Governor Brisbane is best remembered by the capital of Queensland, but he also has a mountain range near Geelong in Victoria and a waterway on the Central Coast of New South Wales named after him, and the latter is where we have been this week.
A most confusing, serpentine channel!
The Rip bridge
Leaving American Bay at 6am on Monday, we cruised back into Broken Bay, passing Lion Island, a penguin rookery, on our way. As we entered the serpentine channel up towards Brisbane Waters with waves breaking on the shallow sandbars on one side and rocky shores close by on the other, the first mate was a little nervous, but the captain steered a steady course and we cruised into the calm waters of Hardy Bay for breakfast. A walk around the foreshore to Pretty Beach followed before we cast off the mooring and continued north. We passed under the Rip Bridge, where currents run at up to 6 knots, then followed the channels between oyster leases into the Gosford Broadwater. We pulled up a courtesy mooring and took the dinghy ashore to  enjoy a seafood lunch at the Gosford Sailing Club overlooking the calm Brisbane Waters and Manookatoo.
Pelican guarding The Entrance
With swells rising in the Tasman Sea for the next few days, we decided to stay moored at Gosford on Tuesday and enjoy an "on land" day. After breakfast we went ashore and took the bus to Erina Fair for some shopping, then continued on the bus to The Entrance. The day was warm and sunny and the views over Tuggerah Lake and along the seaside walk were quite lovely; we could see waves breaking out to sea so we were very glad to be ashore! We enjoyed fish and chips and salt and pepper squid for lunch at the lovely old seaside pub, then returned to Gosford and Manookatoo on the afternoon bus.
Beautiful Hardy's Bay
On Wednesday we enjoyed a morning walk along the shore and over to Caroline Bay, returning for breakfast aboard before casting off the mooring. We cruised around the Gosford Broadwater and into Lintern Channel, venturing up the Cockle Channel as far as Empire Bay, where a shallow sandbar across the channel encouraged us to turn back downstream, cruising under The Rip bridge and around into Hardy's Bay again. There we pulled up a courtesy mooring and enjoyed a lazy afternoon in the quiet harbour.
Palm Beach from Barrenjoey Head
Thursday was another beautiful morning and after breakfast we cast off the mooring and headed out along the channel and across Broken Bay. There was a bit of a swell to make the journey interesting, but once we were past Barrenjoey Head we were back into the calm waters of Pittwater. We anchored between the moorings and met the first mate's parents for a fish and chip lunch on the shores at Palm Beach before cruising back to Barrenjoey and picking up a mooring under the headland. Ashore again, we hiked up the steep track to the lighthouse, with sweeping views up and down the coast, before returning to prepare Manookatoo for continuing our journey north in the morning.
Looking down on Pittwater and Manookatoo
 The captain was up early on Friday, waiting for the sky to lighten up enough for us to depart. We cast off just after 6am, passing the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and making a track north east. The seas were "chunky" (as described by another sailor on VHF radio) so we stayed downstairs for the journey, managing to balance cups of coffee or toast as we cruised along. There was a favourable current so we cruised at between 7 and 8 knots, entering the Hunter River at The Nobbies before 12:30, happy to be in smooth waters again. We had booked a berth at the Newcastle Yacht Club Marina, where we tied up, organized our laundry and enjoyed a leisurely lunch before a walk along the waterfront into town and back. A seafood dinner with a Pinot Noir at the Yacht Club overlooking the water capped off the day.
Entering Newcastle harbour
We didn't rush leaving Newcastle on Saturday morning, but we were casting off our lines by 7am, heading back down the Hunter River and into the Tasman Sea. It was much smoother today, to everyone's relief and we cruised along the Stockton Sandhills and past Fingal and Point Stephens, turning to port and heading in between Tomaree and Yacaaba Heads to one of our favourite destinations, Nelson Bay. We anchored just off Jimmy's Beach for prawn rolls while reliving many lovely memories - we intend reliving many memories while exploring the waterways around here in the next couple of weeks.
Tomaree and Yacaaba Headlands
Captain's Log
Distance from Pittwater to Port Stephens: 77 nautical miles
Duration of journey: 10 hours, 55 minutes
Fuel used: 122.4 litres
We're going to have a lot of fun in Port Stephens!!

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