After a very early wakeup call, we departed Coffs Harbour for Port Macquarie. Our day was marked by intermittent periods of good sailing, blue skies and then cloudy periods. It was varied enough to keep us alert for the trip. Timing the approach and departure of these ports is very important, so we coordinated our departure from Coffs with the advised tide schedule issued by Marine Rescue NSW. There are strong currents, adverse tides and winds to consider when making it over the bars; the great big shifting sand bars that lay across the opening of most of the harbors. Some are of not much consequence, however, some are quite risky to cross causing a vessel to get thrashed at an entrance or exit. We have heard many horrifying stories of boats getting to the bar and then being tossed around helplessly when they hit it wrong. Port Macquarie's entrance is among the more hazardous ones. I am happy to report that my captain has thus far managed to navigate these bars masterfully. Arriving into this beautiful seaside town was an absolute pleasure.
Two large rock jetties flank the opening. We noticed they were very colorful and just alive with walkers, runners and people fishing. A narrow channel has been dredged leading into the marina and even in the little channel we noticed the depth was at times just 2 – ft. under our keel so it is a bit like threading a needle. The water was clear and very beautiful though. Dolphins came along to lead our way. We secured to our mooring and then retired early.
The next day we walked into town to discover great meandering walking/biking/running paths throughout. We chose one that led us along the river up past town. We crossed at a little footbridge and then followed it around toward the jetties, which took us to the main waterfront area where we found the most outstanding fish and chips kiosk. I had fresh grilled Barramundi, while Frank feasted on traditional fish'n chips. Afterward we discovered the ice cream parlor! We continued our walk up onto the south jetty where we discovered the most unusual art. The large boulders used to build the jetty were painted in brilliant varying colors. Most were personalized, marking someone's passing, an anniversary, a graduation, a family reunion, and other events. Many were signed with the Iron Man logo, giving us the impression that this was part of the course for a past Iron Man event. About us was the bustle of healthy people out doing healthy things and it was easy to get caught up in the fever. For the days that we spend there we enjoyed some great walks and hikes along trails that yielded to magnificent views and colorful flora. We enjoyed Port Macquarie very much and look forward to returning on our way back up the coast in the Fall.