Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: A passage to Port Macquarie

Monday, 12 June 2017

A passage to Port Macquarie

Sunset at Port Macquarie
Tuncurry local
With winter upon us, we started to feel the cool of the days and the early sunsets gave way to chilly nights. It was time to continue north! Our first chance came on Sunday, when the winds and swells abated, although continuing rain had us wondering about whether it would be a pleasant trip. Casting off our mooring at Shoal Bay just after 6:30am, we headed past fog-covered  Yaccaba Head and turned north-east. The drizzle prevented us from seeing much and the 1.5m swell had us rocking and rolling, but once we passed Broughton Island the seas settled enough that we felt we had made the right decision to go. Passing Seal Rocks and turning more northerly, the swell was working with us rather than across us. The rain stopped and the sun even threatened to peek out from the clouds! We cruised into Cape Hawke Bay just after 1:00, tying up at the Forster launching ramp jetty for lunch, then heading over to the Tuncurry Seafood Co-Op where we enjoyed a walk around both towns and sea walls, returning to take Manookatoo to a courtesy mooring for the night. 
Friendly dolphins!
Monday morning was fine and clear as we dropped the mooring and cruised out across the bar, heading north again. The journey up the mid north coast is spectacular, with the great dividing range rising just beyond the seashore. We passed Hallidays Point, Crowdy Head and Diamond Head, bypassing Laurieton (even though we'd heard it is a lovely place to visit), as we were keen to get to Port Macquarie in this weather "window". As we entered the Port Macquarie bar, Dolphins greeted us, diving through the waves on the bow. We tied up at the Port Marina just after 2:00, then took a walk into town to check out the sights and get some local information. Port Macquarie was a convict settlement, so there are many historical things to see, and with the weather not looking good for the next few days we are keen to explore all the options.
We followed the Koolonbung Creek walk on Tuesday morning, enjoying the stroll through the mangroves before returning to Manookatoo for a late breakfast. Later that morning Bill the Marina manager kindly lent us his car, so we took the opportunity to stock up on groceries (and alcohol!). We had a relaxing afternoon with a walk to check out Settlement City shopping centre before returning to Manookatoo to enjoy a lovely roast chicken dinner.
"Old" friends catching up
On Wednesday it dawned bright and sunny (but quite cool), so we took the early bus to Laurieton. We went for our morning walk, following the Camden Haven Inlet all the way to the entrance - a pretty walk past the small villages of Camden Haven and North Haven, with oyster leases lining the banks and a few keen fishermen on the rock wall. This was a place we had thought we might come to in Manookatoo - and maybe we will on our return journey south. Returning to Laurieton we enjoyed lunch at the United Services Club before returning on the bus for a (wet!) walk along the Port Macquarie breakwater and back to Manookatoo. 
Port entry looking calm
On Thursday we took our bikes and rode out to the Hibbard car ferry, crossing the Hastings River then cycling along the North Shore area and out along a bumpy track to the northern break wall. We returned on the Settlement Point car ferry just as the rain started, sheltering in a picnic area before returning to the boat for lunch. In the afternoon the first mate caught up with an ""old" friend while the captain rode into town, then we tried out the lovely local bowls club, overlooking the river, for an afternoon drink.
Hastings River, Wauchope
Friday dawned wet but not windy, so we decided to try heading north to hopefully better weather. However, just after crossing the bar, and as the sideways swell was rolling us about, a strong wind warning was issued for the Macquarie coast, so we made a prudent decision to return to Port!! After regrouping and having breakfast, we caught the bus to Wauchope, making the most of a break in the rain for a walk along the Hastings River, then enjoying a leisurely lunch at the Hastings Hotel before buying a couple of steaks from the local butcher and catching the bus back to Port Macquarie again, just as the rain returned with a vengeance!
The wet weather cancelled the local foreshore markets on Saturday, so the first mate spent a lazy morning pottering about while the captain caught the bus to Bunnings to buy some maintenance supplies, then returned to do a couple of small jobs on Manookatoo. A lazy afternoon followed, with sunset drinks at the Bowling Club and dinner at home. 
Port entry looking rough!
Sunday dawned cloudy but dry, so we took a walk into town and followed the historical trail, seeing where the remnants of the original convict settlement were located. It was interesting - but a little daunting when we read about the number of ships wrecked on the bar! We returned to Manookatoo for a late breakfast, then took a walk to Settlement City to buy snags for a sausage sizzle lunch and to book dinner at the bowling club. As the weather bureau issued their updated forecasts we decided that tomorrow would be a better day to travel north so we readied Manookatoo for the journey north in the afternoon before enjoying a Seafood Platter dinner and having an early night, as tomorrow will be a long trip.
Farewell Port, we're moving north!
The captain's log:
Port Stephens to Port Macquarie
Distance: 99 nautical miles
Cruising time: 14 hours 35 minutes
Fuel consumption: 127.9 litres

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