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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oct 21 – Nov 7, 2011 – Boat Maintenance and a little fun in Port Macquarie

On the 21st, we departed Gold Coast at 5:30 AM, during slack tide intending to sail overnight to Coffs Harbour.  The day was perfect for sailing south for Destiny was making great progress picking up a 2-2.5 knot current that literally pushed us through the night in relative comfort. At times we averaged 9 knots. Toward sunset the winds dropped but for the most part we made incredible mileage through the night.  At 5 AM we realized we would be arriving at Coffs Harbour and rather than sit about in the bay to wait for the marina office to open at 8:30, we pressed on knowing we could make Port Macquarie by mid – late afternoon.  What a great passage! We arrive at the entrance around 2:30 on Oct 22nd, noting the bar was totally flat thank goodness! Fortunately the marina had one available mooring left for us. We hooked up and then went for a long walk into town to stretch out our legs and pick up a few groceries.

Sunday, the 23rd was Rugby World Cup Day – we stayed glued to the TV while New Zealand's All Blacks gave us a thrilling victory over France. What a match! It kept us on the edge of our seats the entire game.

On Monday (24th), while it poured rain we enlisted a mechanic to assess a new little problem.  The house batteries are no longer charging from the engine and we keep blowing fuses. He determined that our regulator is shot and ordered a new one. What grieves me so much about this is that the cost is beyond outrageous. The price of a replacement ran approximately 4 times the cost of the one in West Marine's catalogue.  What's even more upsetting is it must be shipped from Sydney at an extra $200+. Had we been in a position obtain one from West Marine we would have, but we needed it now. Frank disconsolately instructed the mechanic to place the order. Our short stay in Port (as the locals call it) would be stretched to over 2 weeks. It is a darn good thing this is one of our favorite towns in NSW.

It rained and rained the next several days. We made short trips into town for provisions but otherwise amused ourselves tackling never ending boat chores. We played a lot of card games and watched a lot of television. What else is a retired couple expected to do?

On the prettier days we took lots of long walks up along the coast – eating at our favorite pub, Finnian's for lunch (best $10 steak on the east coast).  One of my favorite walks is down to Flynn's beach. Just across the street is a great second-hand bookstore/coffee shop.

October morphed into November as we continue to await arrival of our regulator. No matter the weather has not been conducive to moving south anyway and we are quite comfortable here. Tuesday, November 1 was Melbourne Cup Day (like our Kentucky Derby). I had a haircut appointment and didn't care much about the race, so while I set off for the beauty shop, Frank headed over to the local gaming club to watch the event. Sitting in the hair salon awaiting my appointment I amused myself watching all the ladies dressed to the 9's, heads adorned with extravagant hats and fascinators heading in the direction of the club. Frank was in for a real show.

Friday, November 4th we were all set with new regulator and a fistful of fuses. We stopped by the marina office to check out, intending to make a Saturday morning departure. The marina manager smiled as he said, "You won't be going anywhere Saturday morning, Mate. The entire anchorage is used as the Iron Man swim course." He further informed us that we should be up very early – say 5 a.m. – to assist the Maritime boat when he comes by to tie us off out of the way of the course. We were exited at the prospect of being up close and personal in the Iron Man Competition and happily agreed to awaken very early in cooperation.

We eagerly awoke at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Nov 6th brewed a pot of coffee and set ourselves at the ready. Surprisingly Maritime didn't show until nearly 6:20. One man hurriedly tried to push our stern around with the bow of the Maritime vessel in order to tie us out of the way of the racecourse. Just as he secured us to the stern buoy, along came an official yelling to cut us loose! He was the lead kayak directing the elite swimmers around Destiny. The poor Maritime official quickly dropped the line just in time for the lead swimmer to pass our starboard side. And this is how Destiny got to be smack dab in the middle of an Iron Man Triathlon swim course. We delighted sitting on our deck chairs, sipping coffee and cheering the swimmers on. We got some good photos of the participants and the safety officials. After the swim we jumped into the dinghy and made for shore to watch the rest of the events. It was a beautiful day and an exciting one to end our stay in Port.

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