Performance Boating Sales, the importers of Jeanneau yachts in Sydney organised a Jeanneau rally to Newcastle and Port Stephens from the 9th to 14th April 2016. We saw this as a good opportunity to stretch Esprit’s legs for a shake down cruise before we set off North in May.
Our friends Ron & Michelle Watson and Peter & Mandy McLean joined us for the sail up the coast. We departed Saturday at 9:30am from Barrenjoey light house in light Easterlies for the 48 nautical mile sail to Newcastle. We had to motor initially, but the wind freshened from the South-east, allowing us to hoist the asymmetrical spinnaker. We arrived at Newcastle Yacht Club around 5pm and after a few sundowners joined the rest of the Jeanneau sailors for dinner and a party on the floating “The Princess”
Sunday dawned with some serious headaches, but our new Aldi coffee machine produced some strong blacks to soothe the nerves. We departed at 10am for Port Stephens on a glassy sea with no wind. The 54 hp Yanmar iron genoa came to the rescue and we watched some dolphins as we motored up the coast. A Southerly breeze allowed us to sail the second half of this leg into Port Stephens where we tied up in the d’Albora marina.
After some sundowners, Peter and Mandy treated us to dinner at the local pub. We had an early night! The following day Annie and I did extensive walks around Port Stephens, which is a beautiful area just 3 hours North of Sydney. With our sailing companions bussing home, Annie and I sailed out of the heads on Tuesday at 8am, into a freshening South-easter.
The seas were rough and with the wind building to 25knots, we reefed the main and furled the headsail by 50% to make good headway at about 8.5 knots. One long tack out to sea allowed us to clear Newcastle by about 4 miles, to ease out and sail a straight beat into Lake Macquarie. We arrived after 7 hours at about 3pm, with enough depth before low tide to clear the bar at the entrance. We picked up a mooring just outside the draw bridge.
The rising tide meant we could sail out of Lake Macquarie at 9am into a moderate 13-18 knot South-easter. One long beat to Barrenjoey light house and we arrived at Royal Motor Yacht Club at 4pm after 7 hours of sailing. The boat performed very well, making a good and dry passage and promising excellent passage making come May. We look forward to this.