Well, during the passage from Coffs Harbour to Gold Coast, we passed two milestones.Â First, we said goodbye to New South Wales, and hello to Queensland.Â Second, we left the latitude of 30 and higher behind us.Â I am relieved to have re-entered the milder waters and warmer temperatures of the 20s … equator, here we come!
Our departure from Coffs Harbour was delayed by a couple of hours because of the tide.Â Low water was at 10:30 a.m. so we waited until noon to give ourselves some leeway.Â Plus,Â Coffs Harbour was hit hard by a recent storm that pounded the harbor and damaged the marina.Â Â The channel entrance was stillÂ undergoing some redredging as part of the recovery.Â
We went through the breakwater and headed offshore slightly, but only about 2-3 miles to try and avoid current.Â As night fell however, we started seeing more and more fishing vessels, and we were forced to go further out away from the coastline to stay out of traffic.Â The wind completely died and we were forced to motor as well.Â
At dawn, we passed by Byron’s Bay which is the eastern most point of Australia.Â By that time, I was heavily into my next book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is a plot driven page turner which is nice on long passages.Â Andy highly recommended it, as well as the sequel called The Girl Who Played with Fire.Â Evidently there’s a third in this Stieg Larsson trilogy, but we don’t have it onboard.Â
Anyway, I was totally engrossed when a humpback whale surfaced and blew its spout less than 50 yards away from the boat.Â It was startling, but so incredible.Â We’ve seen a lot of whales now, and it never gets old.Â It’s just amazing to experience such a rare and exotic animal in such natural way … no tour group, no whale-watching guides, no throwing food in the water … just observing a whale doing what whales do, and have instinctually done, forÂ millions of years.Â Being that close is like meeting a dinosaur or something.Â It’s awesome, in the truest definition of the word.
The sun was shining and as predicted, the weather was really warming up.Â I may be able to put away my Newcastle Knights hat and scarf for good shortly!Â Unfortunately, 20 knots of wind turned right on the nose, so it looked like motoring the rest of the way.Â Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise were quickly in view — it looks like Miami with sky rises and huge white sand beaches.Â
We located the channel entrance mostly by following the 30 or so boats heading in after a Sunday afternoon on the water.Â The currents going over the sandbar were weird enough, but the wakes of macho, speed demon, power boats bounced us around as well.Â Dinghies, jet skis, fishing boats, whale-watching power catamarans, party barges … it was pretty much total chaos.Â But, we turned the corner and followed the very distinct aids to navigation, easily found the marina, filled up with diesel, found our slip, and settled in.