Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Sailing to Broken Bay, Xmas 2014 to New Year 2015
Friday 26 December 2014 - Yowie Bay to Port Hacking
Our original plan for today was to head out to Catlypso in the early morning and then set sail for Broken Bay which is on the northern side of Sydney. As we are located in Port Hacking, this is not a huge sail, about 30 nm once in the ocean. However, the forecast for today was not good, with very strong southerly winds forecast from early morning. We decided on Christmas night to sleep in and go tomorrow.
|An satellite photo of the Sydney coast. Below "A" is Port Hacking and "B" is in Broken Bay
The wind did not pick up as bad as forecast, so we decide around noon that we will have lunch at home and then head out to the boat. We will still not head north till the next day, but we will be able to get aboard and get things ready.
At 1315 we go over to the boat from the boat ramp. It is now a lot windier than earlier, but not too bad. Once on Catlypso, Michael takes Thunderbird 2 (our tender) back to the ramp with our little tender in tow. He deflates the smaller one and puts it in our Toyota Prado. He then loads some more things into the larger tender and parks the car up the road for the next week.
At 1415 we drop the mooring and head down into Port Hacking proper. The wind is now 25 knots south-easterly. We spot a vacant public mooring to the west of Darks Bay so we head for it. When we are about 50 metres away a smaller boat goes to grab it. However, they then ask us if we were going to use it and when we said yes, they head further west to an emergency mooring. Nice of them, although it was obvious for a long time we were aiming for it.
|Catlypso looking east towards Darks Bay, Port Hacking
|Catlypso west of Darks Bay, Port Hacking
By now the southerly winds have picked up a lot more and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which started at 1300, is now slamming straight into it. It is a bit protected where we are, the wind is more like an easterly as it bends around the hills. We later see on the AIS some of the yachts as they sail past Port Hacking.
At 1745 we have drinks and nibblies. At 1800 we watch the news on television, especially the start of the Sydney Hobart and also the Boxing Day cricket test from Melbourne. Dinner is a simple meal of two minute noodles with turkey in it and a bread roll. We really have eaten too much the past few days.
At 2000 Michael takes Veto in Thunderbird 2 to the shore so she can have a wee and poo. This is something he will do a couple of times every day till we return. By now the wind has abated a lot, it is mostly 10 to 15 knots but some 20 knot gusts. We go to bed at 2130.
Saturday 27 December 2014 - Port Hacking to America Bay, Broken Bay
The wind dropped during the night and there is virtually nothing when we get up at 0700. Michael takes Veto to ashore again and then puts the tender back on the davits. We have breakfast and then drop the mooring and head out towards the ocean. At 0815 we log on with Marine Rescue Solander (after trying MR Sydney for ages). We give an ETA at Broken Bay of 1400 and a check in of 1000.
We put out the screecher and then raise the main (the first time the new sail has been used). There is only 4 to 5 knots from the east. Later there is a bit more, perhaps 6 knots. At 0950 when east of Cape Baily we furl the screecher and turn one engine on at 2000 rpm. This is giving us 4.1 knots (there is a current from the north). We check in with MR Solander at 1000 and are advised to check in with MR Sydney at 1200.
As we pass the northern headland of Botany Bay, Cape Banks, we again pull out the screecher. We are now doing 5.5 knots with one engine at 2200 rpm. There is definitely a one knot current against us and we later pull down the main sail as it is just flopping around. At 1200 we are off Bondi Beach, so we check in and extend our ETA to 1600. The seas are very choppy and it is quite uncomfortable on the boat. We do not have any lunch, not that we really need it anyway.
|Approaching Long Bay, seas are rough
|Kokomo II passes us off Whale Beach
We continue at about 5.5 knots and at 1440 we pass Whale Beach. There are lots of boats around us, many heading to Broken Bay like us. Soon a huge boat comes up behind us. It is called Kokomo II. It is 37.5 metres long and 307 tonnes and owned by property developer Lang Walker. It was built in 1987 but refitted in 2000.
At 1520 we round Barrenjoey Headland and enter Broken Bay. We log off with MR Sydney. We furl the screecher about now as well. At 1645 we moor in America Bay, a fantastic double bay (with Refuge Bay) that is one of the most protected anchorages you will ever see.
We grab a mooring that we at first think is a RMYC (Royal Motor Yacht Club of which we are members of the Port Hacking club) but later realise it was KMYC (Kuring-Gai Motor Yacht Club). We figure (like most do) that if someone turns up and claims it we will move to another mooring. By the way, most KMYC moorings in the two bays were empty the whole time we were there.
|Catlypso in America Bay looking up the bay
|Kelly and Veto relaxing
Michael later takes Veto for a ride to the waterfall in Refuge Bay. She has a great time running around and playing with the kids there. He also looks for the RMYC moorings there, finding four of the five. They are red with yellow tops, so now we know what to look for. When he gets back to Catlypso, he hauls the tender back on the davits in case we need to move off the mooring during the evening. We have hot showers and then drinks. It has been overcast all day and only 24ÂșC. The wind here is easterly, very slight.
Yesterday and today we ran the engines for 11 hours and used about 25 litres of diesel. This is 2.27 litres per engine hour.
Kelly cooks creamy garlic prawns and rice. There are boats still coming into the bay till 1930. We head to bed at 2130.
Sunday 28 December 2014 - America Bay, Broken Bay
Michael gets up at 0745 and listens to the ABC Radio News (which he tries to do most days, even when sailing or camping). He then takes Veto to shore for a pee, there is a tiny beach to the north-east of us at low tide. After Kelly has breakfast, we go for a run in Thunderbird 2 to Refuge Bay. We find all the other RMYC moorings, all are occupied.
|An satellite photo of the Broken Bay/Pittwater area. 1 - just under is our mooring for most of the time in America Bay
2 - Fishermens Beach, 3 - Hallets Beach, 4 - the beach in Refuge Bay where we took Veto a few times,
5 - where we sailed to on New Year's Day, Cottage Point is obvious bottom left
When we return to Catlypso, we notice that one of the public moorings (there are only two here) is now vacant. At 0925 we move to the mooring. We then go for a run around the south-eastern corner of America Bay and discover that one of the RMYC moorings is now vacant. We rush back to Catlypso and move to the vacant mooring. It is much better that we are here as it means someone else can use the public mooring.
Michael then decides to wash the decks as they have a lot of bird shit on them. A lot of scrubbing and hosing goes on and the decks (including the cockpit) are soon the cleanest they have been in over six months. After lunch, he starts polishing the smooth sections of the upper decks with cut and polish. He completes probably 80% of it.
The boat certainly looks a lot cleaner now. It is quite hot work, so we both go for a swim off the back of the boat. A freshwater shower on the back steps cleans us up for the night.
At 1730 we have drinks and nibblies on the bow. There is a bit of wind from the south-east at times. Dinner is chicken fajitas. Today has been overcast most of the day, so we have stayed power neutral via the solar panels. We go to bed about 2140.
Monday 29 December 2014 - America Bay, Broken Bay
Michael takes Veto to shore for a pee at 0700 to the same small beach as yesterday. Back at the boat he has breakfast and listens to the ABC News. It is sunny today and not much wind at first, but after lunch it is a lot stronger.
Michael does some more polishing, finishing off most of the exposed smooth surfaces. Meanwhile, Kelly updates her spreadsheet of the food etc on the boat. Michael then decides to check the solar panels as he suspects that one or more is not working. To do this he takes a newspaper and places it on each panel (there are six) in turn and checks the amps being generated. If you cover even a small section of a panel, it will drop the output to almost zero.
This investigation shows that the third panel from the left on the davits is not working. He decides to do more investigations later.
|Kelly in front of the
waterfall on Refuge Bay Beach
|The Krait plaque on Refuge Bay Beach
At 1100 we take Veto to Refuge Bay Beach. This is a small beach which is only exposed at less than high tide. There is also a waterfall that drops onto the rocks behind the beach. There used to be a pipe that fed the water to a spot where it could be collected. This has now rusted away, but you could are still able to collect water. Veto again goes for a play and a swim. After her swim, Veto rolls in the sand, totally covering herself. What a mess!
We also have a swim and then wash all the sand off Veto. There is also a plaque here commemorating the fact that MV Krait departed Refuge Bay on 26 September 1943 and sailed to Singapore where the Australian commandos on board attacked Japanese shipping in a very successful raid.
|Michael and Veto in front of
Catlypso, America Bay
|Sunset in America Bay
On the way back to Catlypso, we see a huge sea eagle in a tree. Over the next few days we see lots of whistling kites, a few sea eagles, some red-tailed cockatoos and more around the boat. We also hear kookaburras and what we think is a lyrebird.
After lunch, we both investigate the solar panel problem. The panel was definitely putting out its full voltage, so the problem is elsewhere. After checking the solar regulator and back-tracking, a broken connector is found under the rear seat near the davit. Unfortunately, during the testing, Michael blows the fuse in the regulator and we have no spare ones, so he cannot fix it. Michael sends an SMS to our friend Greg who is coming on Wednesday and arranges for him to get some fuses.
|Michael relaxing on the bow with a sparkling wine after dinner
|Kelly and Veto enjoying the sunset
Today was very hot, 31ÂșC but later there is a nice breeze from the east. Michael later takes Veto for another pee, this time to the head of the bay. At 1800 we have drinks and nibblies on the bow. Kelly puts a roast pork in the oven at 1730 and vegies later. We have an excellent dinner, washed down with some very nice sparkling wine. We went to bed at 2205.
Tuesday 30 December 2014 - America Bay, Broken Bay
Last night was quite cool and no wind at all. Michael again gets up at 0745 and listens to the ABC news before taking Veto to shore. After that it is breakfast. We buy a Sydney Morning Herald from the small boat that goes around the bays each morning selling things like bread, milk, coffee etc. It is expensive at $5, but considering his overheads, not too bad.
On Sunday Kelly had found a tarp in one of the port bilges that she was cleaning. We knew it was there, but not what it was for. Today we take it out to the foredeck and open it up. It is a sun shade, tailor made to fit this area, with a loop in the middle to attach to the spinnaker halyard. There are grommets right along the front edge of the tarp and the left and right sides. These are for attaching the shade to the safety line stanchions.
|The "new" sun shade in place
|Another shot of the sun shade
However, the existing ropes attached have totally fallen apart, in fact, some are just a mass of fibres. Michael finds an piece of rope which he cuts into eight pieces. We try a few different setups, but finally have it worked out. This gives shade to nearly the whole of the front half of the boat, including the two main cabins. Fantastic for when we stay in the one place for a few days. Over the next few days we remove and reinstall it a few times for practice as well as because strong southerly changes were forecast.
We spend most of the rest of the day on the foredeck, there is a nice breeze and, of course, the new shade. At 1330 we go to the beach at the head of Refuge Bay. This has very shallow water and you can only access right to the beach at a highish or mid-tide. We motor all the way to just off the beach where we anchor. Veto has another great time on the beach, rolling in the sand and having a splash in the water.
|Kelly and Veto on the large beach
at the head of Refuge Bay
|Looking at Thunderbird 2 in the estuary
While we are at the beach, the wind comes up from the north-east, quite strong. Around 1530 it turns to the west and is very strong, at least 20 knots. The temperature rises dramatically to at least 34ÂșC. At 1630 it drops a little to 31ÂșC. After taking Veto to shore, we have drinks and nibblies. At 1720 the westerly wind stops and a nice cool easterly/north-easterly comes in. Much better.
Michael cooks sausages and smoky BBQ American ribs for dinner while Kelly makes a beetroot salad. By 2000 the wind has dropped to zero. We go to bed at 2125.
Wednesday 31 December 2014 - America Bay, Broken Bay
A strong southerly hits about midnight, but it is not too bad in the bay. Today Greg and Shelley, our long time dive buddy friends (Michael has known Greg since 1988) are coming to spend a few days. Michael gets up as usual and listens to the news and takes Veto to shore. We have just finished breakfast at 0900 when Kelly gets an SMS from Shelley saying they have entered Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
|The Kuring-gai Motor Yacht Club at Cottage Point
|Cottage Point Kiosk and wharf
Michael heads off at 0905 in Thunderbird 2 for Cottage Point. This is about 3.25 nm from us. The first part of the trip is within the 4 knot limit in the bay, so it takes about 20 minutes for Michael to get to Cottage Point. He has not been there for over 30 years, so it takes him a while to work out where the Kiosk Wharf is located (it is to the south of the KMYC club and wharf).
He has taken the portable VHF radio with him and reports back to Kelly that he has arrived safely (this is the tender's longest run since we purchased Catlypso). Unlike a few days time when Michael takes them back, the wharf is virtually empty. Michael takes all the rubbish and recycling with him and Greg and Shelley dispose of the rubbish and put the recycling in their car.
They head back. The tender can only just get on the plane with three and gear on board but it goes well enough at a few hundred rpm under the maximum throttle. It takes about 25 minutes to get back. After Greg and Shelley settled into their cabin, Michael fixes solar panel 3 and inserts the new fuse. Voila! It is now working.
After lunch we go around to Refuge Bay again and have a swim in the shallows. The tide is a lot lower than yesterday so we have to leave the tender out further from the shore. We walk up the creek a bit till it becomes too muddy to go further. No secret water holes!
|Sundowners on New Year's Eve 2014
|Kelly, Shelly and Greg and our great dinner
New Year's Eve 2014
Back at Catlypso it becomes very windy from the south-east. We start New Year's Eve early at 1630 with drinks and nibblies. Kelly is cooking a turkey roll with vegies (potato, carrots, turnips and pumpkin). This takes almost two hours as she has not yet got the hang of the boat's oven settings. We eat about 2100. Excellent, washed down with some more very good Australian sparkling wine.
Kelly also made some sticky date puddings and butterscotch sauce. We have these with double cream. Not as good as her efforts in the camp oven when out camping, the oven still needs to be conquered.
We have a few dances on the foredeck, with Kelly and I recreating our wedding dance to Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers. Later we have Grant Burge sparkling as midnight approaches. At 2400 there is a very good fireworks display from over the ridge in Hallets Beach. Later some are set off on the other side of Cowan Creek. We go to bed at 0020.
Thursday 1 January 2015 - America Bay, Broken Bay
Today we are up late, as you would imagine, after a very late night. Michael is up at 0830 and takes Veto for a run to the shore since it was early last night that she last had a wee break. She has been very good, only peeing once so far on the boat on this trip (and that was on the way up). Even then she has always done her business on the cockpit floor and near the steps.
Breakfast today is ham and eggs, really good after quite a few drinks. At 1015 we leave the mooring and motor out towards the ocean. Our plan is to head out a bit, dump our toilet holding tank and then sail back. It is quite a rough passage approaching Pittwater as the outgoing tide and the large swell create very steep waves. We decide to head over more towards Lion Island and it is better.
We go out as far as we think is okay (since the tide is going to run out for three hours) and turn back in. Michael dumps the holding tank. It is interesting to note that the amount that came out is about one third of what we dumped on the trip up. This gives us a better idea of how quick it will fill given the number of people on board (we had not dumped before 27 December since June).
At 1110 we pull out the new genoa. The wind is about 11 knots from behind us. We decide to just use this sail as we are in no rush. We are doing about 3.1 knots with a tide against us of 0.8 knots. At 1210 the wind drops off so we turn on an engine and pull in the genoa. We motor to Fishermens Beach which is opposite the entrance to America/Refuge Bays.
We drop anchor off the beach and swim to shore, taking Veto on her new puppy floating pool lounge. She has a great run around and we end up speaking to some people who are picnicking on the beach. One is a tourist from Aberdeen, Scotland. When Michael asks how he found it here over Christmas, he said "everything can kill you". We laugh. We tell him we went diving in 2013 with Aberdeen University BSAC in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, Scotland.
|The first use of our new genoa on New Year's Day
|Kelly at helm as we sail along the
Hawkesbury River on New Year's Day 2015
There is also a medium sized goanna (large reptile for non-Aussies) on the beach when we arrive but it disappears behind some rocks. After swimming back out to Catlypso, at 1330 we pull up the anchor and motor over to Refuge Bay. We take a club mooring as all the RMYC ones are still full. Michael decides to take the tender and go into America Bay and see if there are any public moorings available.
He takes the VHF radio and soon calls Kelly and tells her that the RMYC mooring was still vacent from when we left this morning. He ties Thunderbird 2 up to the mooring and about 10 minutes later Kelly arrives with the boat. Very lucky! It was now 1400 so we have lunch and laze around for the rest of the afternoon. At 1710 Michael takes Veto ashore and when he comes back we have drinks and nibblies.
Dinner is veal schnitzel so Michael crumbs it all and later cooks it. We have it with some great potato mash that Kelly makes. At 2115 there is a lot of lightning to the east. Michael looks at the weather radar app on his iPhone and it shows that the storm has formed off Broken Bay and is heading east away from us. At 2230 there is more lightning to the north but again it is moving to the east. We go to bed at 2250.
Friday 2 January 2015 - America Bay, Broken Bay
Michael does his normal thing after getting up at 0745, but this time he listens to the ABC Radio news via HF radio. This will be his preferred way of doing it from now on as the HF radio is right next to our cabin and can be heard very clearly. When he later takes Veto to shore, he slips and falls in the water while climbing over the rocks on the way back to the tender. He cuts each of his feet, luckily only small cuts. The tide is much higher than any time before and the rocks very slippery.
We have breakfast and Michael starts his third book of the trip, a very old Clive Cussler book that he has not read before. At 1130 Michael takes Greg and Shelly back to Cottage Point. The trip takes longer than last time as there are so many large boats on the water, he has to keep slowing down to cross over their huge wakes.
|The larger goanna on Hallets Beach
On returning back to Catlypso the weather is now sunny and very warm (31ÂșC). Michael has another look at the solar array and thinks that at least part of it is not working. However, after a while he comes to the conclusion that once the batteries near 700 AH (full is 800 AH), the charge rate drops down from over 20 A to 14 A or so. If the fridge or freezer turns on, the charge rate stays the same as the system compensates for the increased demand by upping the input. This also happens if the 240 volt invertor is turned on.
At 1400 we take Thunderbird 2 and motor to Hallets Beach in Cowan Creek. This is about 1.25 nm away. The beach has a few moorings off it and there are plenty of boats moored and anchored. It is a nice beach, but the water is very dirty with lots of weed and suspended dirt. There are two goannas on the beach when we arrive, one a fairly large one. Veto has a run around and Michael goes for a swim.
We then go to the next beach south, Cottage Rock Beach. This is very small, but a much nicer spot. There is a waterfall at the back of the beach and it seems there is a pipe that directs water to a spot where it can be collected. We will have to come back here sometime. We go back to Catlypso and have hot showers for the first time in almost a week. Luxury!
|Cottage Rock Beach
|A fantastic sunset tonight
After taking Veto to shore, Michael adds 40 litres of water to both the port and forward starboard water tanks. Dinner is prawn saganaki and noodles. Tonight America Bay is almost full, with hardly any vacant moorings and quite a few boats anchored as well. The sunset is spectacular tonight, the best of the trip. We go to bed at 0930.
Saturday 3 January 2015 - America Bay, Broken Bay to Yowie Bay, Port Hacking
We decided last night that we would head home today. Originally we were thinking of Sunday, but we decided that it will be better to go now and then have time to ready everything before Kelly has to go back to work on Monday.
|A photo of America Bay from the head of the bay
|The flat seas off Palm Beach
The forecast for today is north-easterly winds of 10 to 15 knots in the morning and getting up to 25 knots by 1100. We are up at 0600 as we want to get as far down the coast as we can before the strong winds hit. We depart at 0620 after making tea and coffee.
As we head out under one engine, there is a 1.7 to 2.0 knot incoming tidal current. We log on with MR Sydney at 0710 with an ETA of 1300 at Port Hacking. We exit Broken Bay at 0725. The wind is only 2 knots from the north-east, far less than the forecast. We motor with one engine at 2400 rpm giving a speed of 5.5 knots (there appears to be a current of 1 knot from the south). The wind later increases to 5.5 knots but by 0845 there is none. We are off Turimetta Headland and the seas are glassy with a slight swell. We are doing 5.9 knots and have a 1.1 knot current against us.
|Passing Sydney Harbour, North Head at right
|The new sails are up together for the first time
At 0945 we put up the main sail but gain no speed. At 1000 we are off North Head, the northern headland of Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). Here there is about 1.7 knots current but we are still doing 5.7 knots using one engine at 2400 rpm. At 1025 we pull out the genoa in 8 knots of wind which soon drops to 5 knots. We still have one engine running at 2000 rpm and are making 6.1 knots into a 1.1 knot current.
At 1215 we are off Botany Bay and we jibe and head towards Cape Solander, the southern headland of the bay. We turn off the engine and are doing 3.4 knots. At 1245 we head back towards the south and then later back to the south-west towards Cronulla. A couple of dolphins come and play of the bow for about five minutes. At 1340 the wind picks up to 12 to 17 knots north-east. We are now doing over 6 knots using both sails.
|Two dolphins in front of the bow off Cronulla
|Another photo of the dolphins
Just before 1400 Michael attempts many times to contact MR Sydney but they do not answer and then finally, he is asked to change channels. However, another boat also did this at the same time and they are spoken to first. Kelly decides we need to tack again as we are getting too close to the beach for her liking.
Michael abandons his attempt to contact MR and goes up to assist with the tack. As we go around, a very strong gust of over 25 knots hits, forcing the boat right around. It was impossible to furl the genoa so Kelly starts the engines. By now the sheets are all messed up and it takes a while to fix and furl the sail. He then drops the main.
Once back motoring, Michael manages to contact MR Sydney and logs off. A few lessons are learnt here, tack before trying to log off, even if this means doing it a bit later than the notified ETA. We motor into Port Hacking and are amazed by the number of boats on the water. There are far more boats and people on the sand spit off Shiprock than we have ever seen before and the sand spit at Lilli Pilli has dozens of boats and perhaps a hundred people on it.
|The starboard bow of Catlypso
|Look at all the boats at Lilli Pilli
It is a really low tide and as we cross the entrance to Burraneer Bay approaching Shiprock we hit bottom. We scrape for perhaps 3 metres stirring up the sand. Michael has not seen this section of Port Hacking so shallow for 15 to 20 years. The water is very clean and it appears that it is slightly deeper out of the channel to the south. We motor into Yowie Bay and tie up at our old mooring at 1500.
We decide that we will use the old mooring as we are not sure of the exact one which is ours (we need to check numbers) and also we want to dive on it and check it first. In any case, we are committed to January for this one, so we may as well use it.
We gather together all the things we need to take off (food, dirty linen and clothes etc) and load up Thunderbird 2. The ramp and wharf are extremely crowded, but we get a spot to tie up. Michael walks up to the Prado with Veto and brings it back down amongst the idiots waiting to launch and retrieve boats.
He inflates the small tender using a scuba bottle and attaches the engine. Kelly has meanwhile brought all the things from the larger tender to the car. Michael goes back out to Catlypso and puts Thunderbird 2 back on the davits before returning in the small tender. Kelly has good entertainment while he is gone with many very stupid and rude boat owners making fools of themselves.
Finally we head home after a great eight days away.
This was an easy little sail up and back, mostly using our engines due to lack of wind. The aim was to have a nice relaxing week away but also try out the new sails. Even though it was the peak summer period, we did not encounter any problems finding moorings. We will have to go back again in a quieter period as it would be magical.
One of the other things we were trying to determine on this trip was how much water we would use. A few days after we came back Michael went out to the boat with more water. He added another 80 litres which filled the port tank and appears to have almost filled the starboard forward tank, perhaps 10 to 20 litres still needed. This means that we used 70 litres from the port tank (this is only for showers and in bathroom sink). We used about 105 litres from the starboard forward tank. This is used for galley and deck shower. Total usage was therefore about 175 litres.
As we carry 455 litres in the three tanks, plus another 85 litres in the hot water tanks (not sure if this is accessible once main tanks are empty), it means we used about 38% of our cold water and 32% of the total. At this rate, if we consider that we did 20 person days on the boat, a usage of 8.75 litres a person a day. Rounding this up to 10 litres, it means we could spend 22 days on the boat without rewatering and still have the 100 litres we plan to carry in containers as backup. Of course, we also have a watermaker that we hope to have running after April 2015.
Distance covered: 105 nautical miles approx
Engine hours: 21.8 hours
Diesel used: 47 litres
Average fuel consumption: 2.16 litres per engine hour
Water used: 175 litres approximately