Passage: New Caledonia to Australia
We left New Caledonia on 12 Nov 2015. We sailed off of our mooring at Ilot Maitre with our friends aboard SV Dream Time sailing behind us to send us off in style. They broke off to head to another year of lovely gunkholing around Noumea, and we continued sailing out Dumbea Pass pointing at Sydney.
We knew we would hit a front around 28S and after that the weather was unpredictable but with nothing too scary in the forecast and the MJO was behaving itself. We hoped to sail to Sydney but we knew we wouldn’t know if that was possible until we started pulling weather forecasts after the front.
We started out in 10-15 knot winds, had a bit of light air sailing which over the course of a few days clocked around to the NW. Instead of a few hours of fickle wind while the front passed (as has been our experience in the past) the wind simply flipped 180 degrees to the SSE in the 20-25 knot range. We reefed down and pointed East until the winds slowly backed around to the ESE and we could continue sailing toward Sydney. After a day or so of this, the forecasts were showing the possibility of an East Coast Low forming over Sydney and so we turned for Coffs Harbour.
At this point we had a 24 hours spinnaker run with an eddy in the Australian current pushing us toward Coffs. Light wind, flat water, sunshine and a favorable current – a Pretorien owners dream! Note: This site gives an excellent visual of the current state of the current.
The clearance was easy peasy. They took our produce, eggs, cheese and milk and canned meat (poor pate gone) – all as we had anticipated. They examined our shells, took a few pictures, charged the stupidly expensive fee of $380AUD and were on their way. Nice guys.
Coffs Harbour was a surprising treat. It is a dirty, dusty, slightly run down port filled with a interesting, diverse, salty crowd of honest to goodness sailors. The staff were super friendly. The town was cute and we were picked up when hitch hiking immediately and even given a ride when we were just asking someone about the bus. The showers were hot, high pressure, and with shower heads taller than I am. As an aside, for whatever reason, even though I am only 5’8” most S Pacific shower heads are positioned at my neck requiring (on the few times we’ve been in ports or haul outs) me to crouch down to shampoo. If Coffs were closer to Sydney we would have stayed there for a while but the lure of Christmas and NYE in Sydney proved too difficult to resist.
We made it!