After returning from Tasmania last year life got busy. We renovated our little apartment, work responsibilities increased, study is on-going. Our wonderful Middle Harbour Yacht Club has a new Cruising Captain in Evan and I am now Secretary of the cruising division. Life is full and happy.
But now that we finished our first sailing adventure where to next? Lord Howe Island? lets do it!!
This little gem is about 420 nautical miles from Sydney (our furthest off shore trip) and can fit into a 2 week time frame. This island is a volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea. About 10km long and between 0.3 and 2km wide with the highest point being Mount Gower in the south rising to 875 meters.
Over the year we have planned, readied Nashira, planned some more etc. Evan worked hard to get others interested in coming and in the end we have 3 vessels coming along from MHYC. All brave souls willing to do something they haven’t done before. Along for this adventure is: Nashira, Arawai and Bundeena (more on these teams later).
“I had so many plans to get this Lord Howe trip blog up and running before we left but it didn’t get done. Then to make matters more complex there is NO reception on the way and very very limited and expensive internet reception on the island. Impossible to update Blog. So here goes… the FULL story from our side”
LORD HOWE ISLAND – Here we go…….
Thursday January 4th just before midnight Nashira, the last to head out, is ready to leave Sydney with Evan, Kelly and our 3rd crew mate Bruce. Bundeena with Frank & Peter left the day before about 4pm
“Bundeena, Frank and Peter”
Arawai with Adam, Richard, Cathy, David and Brad left about 10am on Thursday.
The trip would take 3 1/2 days and see Arawai and Nashira arriving Monday morning the 8th. Bundeena, the fastest of the vessels arrived on Saturday 6th.
To begin with the days seem long, running into each other as we go. Day, night, day night…. the first 56 hours the sea was so calm we motor sailed, We decided to do 3 hour watches and having a third person is fantastic for more and regular sleep. Not to mention help with chores (especially doing dishes!) and good conversation.
On the second day we played in water actually stopping we had a swim in 4000 meters of water! We put two lines out the back and always made sure one person stayed aboard, Just in Case……
We trailed a fishing line out the back as Bruce being an experienced fisherman we fully expect to finally learn how to humanely catch and dispatch a fish (not to mention eat)
We Hooked a fish!! but NO luck in our first attempt to pull it in. We only have 15 pound line and the fish looked liked a blue fin tuna. He got close to the yacht, took one look at us, snapped the line and was off.
Day three (Sunday 7th) the wind picked up and we had a glorious sail running up to 8.5 knots all night! We caught up to Arawai and together we arrived at Balls Pyramid by 5am Monday morning (8th) just in time for a glorious sunrise and circumnavigation of the worlds tallest sea stack (23nm south of Lord Howe).
We cannot enter the Lord Howe lagoon until high tide which is about 2pm so Evan motored from Balls Pyramid to Lord Howe while Bruce and I caught up on some much needed sleep.
Once at Lord Howe Evan called police chief Simon on VHF channel 12 to advise we are here. Simon lined us up to enter the Lagoon at 12noon and Arawai to enter at 12:45. It is a great service as Simon gets himself into visual contact and actually guides us into the lagoon, telling us how to miss the reefs and which mooring to grab. He is efficient, very clear and easy to understand. One thing I should mention; “before heading to Lord Howe you need to organise a mooring as there are only 18 available and your keel depth will determine where in the harbour you can be accommodated. You wouldn’t want to go there and find there are no available moorings.”
Our mooring is at the North end of the Lagoon, nearest the jetty. Once safely on our mooring we look in awe at our surroundings. The water is crystal clear and I mean crystal!! so beautiful. The mountains are stunning. The temperature is hot enough to feel overdressed in shorts and tee-shirts.
As soon as we get settled we got our dinghy off the front deck and into the water. The water is super warm. We motored over to the boat ramp and carried the dinghy up the slope to a grassy patch. We were told by Simon to head over to the Lord Howe Island board office and pay for our mooring. On the way we got waylaid in town by Frank and Peter from Bundeena and just had to stop for a beer and quick lunch. Poor Frank is battling the Flu!
After lunch we walked for what seemed like MILES to find this office. Simon said 600 meters from jetty. That is the LONGEST 600 meters I have ever known. Finally we found the office and got a key for the amenities block and let them know we are here!
On the way back to town Evan suggested hiring bikes as it was too hot to walk MILES. We picked up three bikes with Macca at ‘Wilsons’ Evan also organised to have our three 20 litre Jerry cans refilled with Diesel. Macca is a busy man!
The breeze is a welcome sensation while riding the bikes, great call Evan. We tootled around the town and checked out the amenities.
The amenities block has good clean showers and free laundry facilities! Nice!
We parked our bikes near the dinghy and headed back to Nashira for our first snorkelling. It felt so good to jump into the water, the temperature is refreshing but not cold at all. There is no shock or closing of the capillaries that we are used to in Sydney Harbour. We spend the rest of the afternoon snorkelling and Paddle boarding around Nashira looking at coral and curious friendly fish.
One of the first noticeable differences here is that you can leave anything about and it is still there the next day! Our bikes were always where we left them. We were told that no-one steals. There are only 400 permanent residents and 400 visitors allowed. Apparently around Xmas and New year an additional 200 people are here as family and friends of locals come from the mainland to visit. So we have a whopping 1000 people here. It is not crowded, most people travel by bicycle. There are several cars but no traffic really, more like a couple dozen or so.
The local people are friendly and proud with many coming from families that have been here several generations. Bruce asked one fellow if he was local and the response was “Oh goodness NO, I have only been here 9 years, you need to be here at least second generation before you are considered local!!”
TUESDAY 9th —(day 2 on the Island)——-
Great Night Sleep!!!
All communications for the island are done by radio. Mainly VHF Channel 12. We can contact most businesses via radio and we call our fellow vessels on channel 12 and change to another channel to continue communication. It is so simple and easy. Once onshore there is a free phone service allowing us to ring any business or service via complementary phones.
There is a new internet service, a couple actually which are very expensive. For example I paid 4.95 for 100MB of data over 3 days. I connected, my mail downloaded and I tried to messenger my daughter then was cut off. whoops that was my 100mb gone. I tried it again and it lasted about 5 minutes. I was able to Message my family but thats about it. There are Payphone’s around and they work well to call the mainland. Otherwise we are cut off! it is lovely.
Okay this mornings plan is to take the three 20 litre diesel jerry cans to Macca’s at Wilsons. He will have them delivered back to the jetty after filled. Then head to Neds Beach to go snorkelling.
We dinghy ashore, retrieved our bikes and on the way to Wilsons where we dropped off the jerry cans. We ran into Peter (Bundeena), he’s picked himself up a bike and has 3 small jerry cans that need filling with unleaded petrol. All of us joined him in his quest to find the top shop that sells petrol. There aren’t many roads but some of them quite steep. On the way to finding the “Top Shop” we stopped at a well stocked grocery and convenience store to look at what they stocked and buy ice-blocks to combat the heat. Then back on the road. We finally found the shop and as you could imagine it was the highest altitude street, giving its name more meaning. Peter handled his petrol needs and headed off to his dinghy with Bruce. All agreeing to meet at Neds beach in a little while.
Evan and I got a chance to cycle around and have a look at things. We missed the turnoff for Neds Beach and ended up seeing a bit more of the island than we bargained for before turning around.
Neds Beach is really cool, There is a long undercover area to store your gear or have picnics. On one side is a little honesty shop with all your snorkel gear, wet-suits, paddle boards etc. you leave money to pay for what you borrowed. There is no-one there policing or asking for money. So chilled out.
There is a little machine which dispenses fish food for a dollar. The fish have learned people feed them so there is NO fear of people at all. In fact you want to watch your fingers when feeding them two young kids patiently told us.
Peter and Bruce showed up, we all geared up with our snorkel equipment and headed for the warm, inviting, clear water and laughed at all the fish. The coral was colourful and so dense with wildlife. We tried to get some good photos. Evan had one little coloured fish follow him everywhere, it was his buddy.
See Part 2