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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March 2 – 6, 2012 - Port Stephens

We sailed fast and rough most of the way from Broken Bay. Weather was ugly making our ride a wet one. We pulled into Port Stephens' Nelson Bay in the pouring rain and finding no available mooring we dropped the hook. Eventually the rain lightened to intermittent, giving us a shot at going to shore. The boys found a great people-watching bar, and so that is just what we did. We sat, ate and watched all the people.

Saturday morning we could hear music wafting through the air from somewhere on shore. As the skies cleared we noted several small tents set up along the walkway at the local park. Frank and Scott decided to go in for an exploratory mission, leaving me on the boat. I really thought they were just going to see what was going on and would come back for me, but they were gone for several hours. I decided I could either be angry about this, feeling more than a little abandoned, or I could kick back with a good book and enjoy the solitude. I chose the latter.  Around mid-day, the Coast Guard stopped by to let me know that they would be clearing out the anchorage in the afternoon in order to move in the fire-works barge for a big show that night. I phoned Frank to let him know that we should move the boat. When he didn't answer I realized a rooster was "cock-a-doodling" from our study. Frank's cell phone ring is a rooster. Well so much for that. I climbed out on deck and craned my neck, searching the crowd but found no sign of Frank or Scott. I returned to my reading, counting to 100 first..
The sun made a big entrance at about mid afternoon and at that time Frank came out in the dinghy to tell me there is a BIG fishing tournament going on, a wine-tasting, music festival and market all happening together and that I should come to shore because I was missing all the fun! Now is this the best thing he could have said to me? I think not. I said that he initially was going to go check it out and get back to me...hours ago. He explained very innocently that he forgot his phone. Oh – I see, that explains it.  I then casually mentioned to him we had to move the boat. We began to weigh anchor just as storm clouds reappeared, blotted out the sun and threw wind into our faces, churning up the water. With great effort we managed to get Destiny moved over to the next cove and secured to a mooring. By now, the entire bay was filled with whitecaps. Frank wanted me to return to shore with him and I probably would have had he intended to go to shore at the beach where we were moored, and then walk over to the festival from this anchorage. He felt that would take too long and was worried about having left Scott alone to fend for himself. I told Frank with a wine festival and a beer booth at his disposal Scott would be just fine, nonetheless, he opted for the faster route across the cove around the point to Nelson Bay in the dinghy. I thought he was crazy because it was too nasty, and opted to stay onboard.  I watched Frank take off heading back with my heart in my throat. Several times he bashed into oncoming waves that literally stood the dinghy straight up on the stern. Only when he rounded the point into the protected waters of the marina did I exhale.  Eventually, Frank and Scott returned none the worse for the wear. They had a great time and carried commemorative wine glasses to prove it.

Sunday, Pauline phoned from her place at Boomerang. She was scheduled to drive home to Sydney that night and if she had time she planned to stop at Port Stephens to see us one last time. I tried to urge her to come early for the festival. She made no promises, having her hands full for the day. The weather had cleared to a nice sunny day. After breakfast Frank, Scott and I went to shore. There was plenty to see and do. They boys were done with wine. We strolled the waterfront tasting some of the food, checking out arts, gifts and other displays, then sat in the entertainment pavilion to enjoy some great live music.  Pauline phoned with the good news that she was on her way over. She joined us for part of the frivolity and then we watched the return of tournament fishing boats. We ended the day with a lovely dinner and then I tearfully saw Pauline to her car and on her way back to Sydney. I knew this was the last time I would get to say goodbye to my very dear friend. She above everyone else has gotten so close to me. She is my Aussie Gemini sista! I love her dearly. She hugged me hard and promised to come visit us when we get into Asia. I believe she will.

Frank and Scott had wanted to play golf at Port Stephens but with the crazy weather we experienced there they just couldn't get to it. We took Scott for some of our walks that we always enjoyed so much here, and then all too suddenly it was time to leave. Tuesday morning, Frank announced that we should be leaving around 9 or 10 AM so that we will hit the Port Macquarie Bar at incoming tide.  We braced ourselves for the rodeo ride out of beautiful Port Stephens and again, had a thriller of a sail all the way up the coast.

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