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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nov 7 – 11, 2011 – Arrival at Port Stephens in a Raging Storm

November 7th
We are leaving Port this morning, heading south for Port Stephens. Because we have to await the outgoing tide to cross the bar we won't leave before 8:00 am. It is an approx 14-hour trip, so we will be arriving late tonight. The upside is that it is a beautiful day for a sail and forecast is 15-knot winds from the NE. We started out nicely, but soon lost the wind. Where is that 15-knot wind the weather gods promised us? Oh well, we are satisfied that the current is going with us.

We have arrived outside the Port Stephens Heads - it is 10:54 PM. Things got a little hairy the last few hours when a horrendous storm approached from the west (on land), coming our way throwing hail at us and bouts of severe lightening. We had been watching it on radar for some time and praying that we could avoid this ugly thing. As we neared the Heads it seemed to be marching toward us instead of turning south. Captain Frank took us back out to sea while we stayed in constant radio contact with Marine Rescue. The helpful VMR operator gave us updates of the path of the storm. We checked our speed and slowly crisscrossed the offshore coast until finally, and by the Grace of God, the storm passed by allowing us to turn back toward shore, through the Heads and into Port Stephens. God Bless those who were in the path of that thing - it was quite a light show from offshore. I don't think either of us has ever seen so much lightening activity in a concentrated cell like that. Tragically, we knew there were many strikes and almost more tragically it was really quite beautiful. After the storm passed we were left in complete and utter darkness to pick our way through to the anchorage at Nelson Bay.

Tuesday brought lovely blue skies. No one could have imagined the dramatic spectacle that was wrought the night before. We moved over to Shoal Bay, picked up a pink courtesy mooring and then ventured to shore for a long walk along the colorful trails down along the beach and then hiked to top of Tomaree Head. To our surprise there were remains of armament placements where a fort had been built in 1942 and fortified with big guns to protect the headlands from foreign invaders (Japanese I think). It was a very impressive and educational hike to the top. We meandered back down via the golf course, past the dive-bombing white parrots, rainbow lorikeets and cockatoos, the laughing Kookaburras and back to the boat. It truly is peaceful and pretty here, but rolly in the Shoal Beach anchorage. We moved back over to Nelson Bay before nightfall to get away from the rock and roll. Wednesday we went to shore again for a long hike in the direction of Salamander Bay. Thursday it was back to boat chores and an afternoon of television to watch the Australian Open.

Friday, Nov 11th we moved Destiny over to Jimmy's beach took the dinghy to shore there and set off on an hour-long walk along the beach across the isthmus to the ocean side at Providence Bay where the beach is covered in beautiful fine white sand. Although it was very nice on this side of Port Stephens, the winds made staying here too uncomfortable so we moved over to Bagnalls Beach at Nelson Bay, walked into town for dinner and on the way back got dive-bombed by hundreds of rainbow lorikeets, white macaws. At the end of the day, meanwhile back at the Australian Open, Tiger woods was in 1st place.

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