Yesterday, we had big plans to leave Newcastle at first light since Coffs Harbor was about 175 miles away and the East Australian Current is always a concern.Â Unfortunately, we slept in so soundly, and then suffered some separation anxiety with the marina’s cheap, fast, and reliable wifi.Â But we managed to shove off around 10:30 with a flexible plan of making landfall at Port Stephens (about 5 hours away), Coffs Harbour (about 30 hours away), or Gold Coast (about 55 hours away).
As we made our way through the channel, we noticed a lot of traffic.Â One tugboat was leading a container ship out, and another tugboat was leading another container ship in.Â Several container ships were loitering outside the breakwater waiting to be taken in.Â Since we usually see freighters from afar, seeing one up close is a weird reminder of how gigantic they actually are.Â
We made our way through the breakwaters and found a nice, calm, flat Tasman Sea … just like we like it!Â Andy went below to check our position, and then I heard a loud booming noise.Â I looked in the general direction of the noise, and having grown up within a couple of miles of an Air Force base, I knew that some kind of fighter jet was headed in our direction.Â
The trick to communicating on a boat is the delicate balance between notification with a sense of urgency and scaring someone to death with a tone of emergency or impending disaster.Â I leaned into the companion way, and as calmly as I could, I said “military plane” in a flat but loud voice.Â Andy shot up immediately to catch the show.Â It made a wide loop out over the ocean at fairly low altitude … deafeningly loud and very exciting.
About 10 minutes later, we had a humpback whale sighting!Â Again, I leaned into the companion way, and as calmly as I could, I said “whale” in a flat but loud voice.Â Again, you have to be careful not to communicate a message of panic or emergency, but rather just a really cool sightseeing opportunity.Â Anyway, it was a pod of at least three whales traveling up the coast together.Â We mostly saw their spouts and backs … no flukes or fins or full breeches this time, but very cool nonetheless.
The rest of the day was quite nice and uneventful.Â I’m reading a book called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.Â It won a Pulitzer Prize and I can definitely see why.Â Andy’s reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and constantly shaking his head at the disturbing tale.Â
Unfortunately, we downloaded some weather forecasts and a weather warning had just been issued for high winds for our area around Coffs Harbour the following night.Â As I mentioned, we had decided that if we didn’t make it to Coffs Harbour for a daytime arrival, we would try to press on to Gold Coast.Â This new weather warning killed that idea promptly, so we had to pick up the pace a little bit to make sure we made it to Coffs Harbor with daylight to spare.Â
And we just barely made it!Â Literally, we had minutes to spare as a huge, angry-looking storm chased us in to shelter.Â The slip was barely big enough to hold us and the neighboring boat already moored there, but, in his best performance yet, Andy perfectly threaded the needle.Â Oh, bowthruster, how do we love thee?Â Let me count the ways!
We grabbed the shower bag, stopped at the marina office, and per their instructions, opened the lockbox to obtain the keys.Â We had dinner at the closest restaurant, and it was actually pretty good.Â I had yellow fin tuna that was probably just a few hours fresh, although, I felt Andy’s brother, Erik, also known as the Seahadist (the seafood Jihadist), breathing down my neck for not eating something else (Artic Char?).Â His overwhelming knowledge about, and activism to stop, overfishing are really cutting into my enjoyment of seafood!