|We love seeing the kangaroo crossing sign...even in the water! |
We saw this as we were leaving Coomera Waters Marina where we had kept the boat over Christmas
|Saying farewell to the Gold Coast|
We had originally thought of doing the trip in one go, which would have taken 2 days and 2 nights, but after our rough start, we decided to stop for the first night (and, as it turned out, we stopped each night, enjoying experiencing a bit of this coast). Our first stop was Ballina, and once again, we had to negotiate a bar entrance. The section in the Cruising Guide that talks about the Ballina bar is as follows: "...the navigator being warned that breaking waves can carry onto the end of both breakwaters, catching a vessel on her beam if conditions are not ideal" (ref: Cruising the New South Wales Coast by Alan Lucas pg 318). Hmmm...great....oh well...we didn't feel like sailing through the night, so we radioed Marine Rescue Ballina, and asked about the condition of the bar. The kind voice on the radio told us that the entrance was not too bad, and the swell was coming in at 10 second intervals, and that a vessel of our size should not have a problem entering. We decided to cross, and Dave had fun surfing the swell into the river and it was not a problem getting across the bar!
|Sunrise in Ballina|
|Coffs Harbor at sunset. View from Muttonbird Island.|
|Gaby on one of the new concrete blocks they are placing along the breakwater. The marina was destroyed a few years ago by a storm and is only just getting back on its feet|
|The Lighthouse at Crowdy Head|
|Gaby and Dave in the tiny Crowdy Head harbor. Cool Runnings is on the right|
We left Crowdy Head by 5:30am on the morning of December 29th, and as usual, spent the morning motoring. Once the wind came through at about 11:00am, we were able to put up the spinnaker, and sailed the rest of the way. Our stop this evening was in Newcastle, where we arrived at around 6:30pm. Newcastle is the largest coal exporting harbor in the world, and from the sea, it looked terrible. We saw a big, industrial port, and were not thrilled to pull in here for the night. However, we were most pleasantly surprised, and, after tying up the visitor jetty, we found a delightful waterfront area with restaurants, bars and hotels.
|Our floating home peacefully tied up in Newcastle|
|Leaving Newcastle at dawn|
|One of our first views of the bridge, Sydney Opera House and a ferry! |
This was pretty much our view for New Years Eve celebrations
A few hours after anchoring, JoliFou arrived with Lyn's parents, Keith and Merle, and Bruce's mom, Joliet on board. JoliFou rafted up to Cool Runnings, and a little while later, Joe and Belinda arrived and tied up to the other side. The kids were thrilled to finally have a raft up! Around lunchtime, Clynton and Lisa arrived on "the Turtle", their beautiful, old wooden sailing boat. In all the time they had owned it, they had never raised the sails, but decided that this was a good time to do it, so we were very privileged to be a part of the momentous occasion of the raising of Turtle's sails! Ben and Gaby also got a chance to go for a sail around Sydney Harbor in the Turtle, impressing Ben so much, that he has asked if he and Dave could build a boat like it when we get back home!
|The Turtle's sails go up...|
|And she's off!!|
|Benjamin LOVED his sail on the Turtle!|
|Dave climbed the mast to get this view of our 3 boat raft up!|
|Raft up from the front...see those dark skies?!!|
The grey day continued and it looked threatening, but it never did rain! The first show of fireworks came on at 9:00pm, and was spectacular in itself. Then just before midnight, you could see the count down projected on the stone columns on the bridge ....10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1.....HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! We watched in amazement as one of the most spectacular fireworks shows played out in front of us. The show payed tribute to David Bowie, Gene Wilder and Prince as Purple Rain flowed down from Sydney Harbor Bridge. The display used 7 tons of fireworks, 100,000 pyrotechnic effects and took 500 hours to prepare. Not only did the fireworks erupt from the bridge itself, but also from 7 barges around the harbor. It was truly spectacular, a "once in a lifetime" experience for the Hibberds!!
|Our beautiful Dancing Queen, Lyn Savage and Dave (excuse the hair), enjoying the festivities|
|Gaby and Ben get into the spirit of the evening!!|
|Pictures were difficult to take and you can't capture the amazing fireworks, but here are some attempts!|
|More fireworks...I also took some video...please see the short clip below|
Once it was all over, it was a sight to see many of the estimated 4,000 boats on the water head back to their respective homes, marinas and anchorages, and the ferries carried hundreds of passengers back to their points of origin. The water was alive and for us, it marked a new chapter in our journey...a whole new ocean to cross and more places to see! What adventures lie ahead of us in 2017?!