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Old 09-01-2011, 17:44   #1
Mav
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Southport, Qld to Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

Hi All,

I will be taking our new cruiser down the coast from Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast to Port Stephens in NSW in a few weeks time. I have not done a trip like this before so I was wondering if there are any folk on here that may have experience with this stretch of coast line?

It is a 38' sports cruiser with twin mercruiser 454 magnum engines coupled to V shft drives. It has 540 litres of fuel capacity per engine with a cruise range at 20 knotts of around 200nm. Port Stephens is around 300nm so I will need to stop and fill up along the route. I am thinking the best place to fill up would be either Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarrie.

If anyone can give me some insights as to good overnight harbours along the route I would appreciat it. I will be self sufficient so I do not necessarily need a marina birth but if they don't cost too much I guess t would allow me to have a proper dinner along the way.

Also if you know this stretch of water well are there any places to be wary of?

I will most likely have one or two crew with me but they will probably have limited knowledge and will be for extra hands at birthing times etc.

Cheers

Mav
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Old 09-01-2011, 18:07   #2
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Can you go slower and save fuel? Say cruise at 7-8 knots. Every time you double your speed it takes 8 times the power (read fuel)...


Just a thought

Damien
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Old 09-01-2011, 18:19   #3
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G'Day Mav,

The first leg -- Alice to the Gold Coast -- is a hard one!

After that, the water is deeper and more easily navigated. My first and strongest suggestion is to get a copy of Alan Lucas's "Cruising the NSW Coast" (Southport to the NSW border is a no-brainer). Ann and I have done that stretch of coast countless times but always in a yacht, not a motorboat, and I doubt if our opinions about suitable conditions would match yours!

But even at 6 or 7 knots it can easily be done in daylight hops, so you shouldn't have problems there. Alan's book covers the available anchorages quite well -- he is a pretty conservative sort, and you can trust his info, 'cause he has done it all himself.

And yes, Coffs is a likely fuel stop for you, around 150 miles from the seaway, and enterable in nearly all conditions. The marina there is, IMO, a poor choice (physically decrepit) and the anchorage outside of it is dicey and often uncomfortable. Port Mac is a bit more difficult to enter at times, with a bar that can be "interesting". Further, as of 6 weeks ago, the leads were not useable, and the instructions for entering were quite vague. We made it in moderately rough conditions, but were not too happy about it. Once inside, there is excellent anchorage to be had just around the corner in the Hastings river, and fuel available at the marina.

From there it's not very far on to Pt. Stephens... a piece of cake!

But again, I have no knowledge of seamanship in boats like yours, so take this all with a grain of... petrol?

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Church Point NSW Oz
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Old 09-01-2011, 18:55   #4
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If you wish to save fuel head east from the sea way until you reach the 600ft/100fm/200M depth turn of motors sit back and enjoy the slow(can be 4 knots but free trip south,
when East Nelson bay head West and your home In about 8 days give of take some.

or get Alan Lucas's book.
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Old 09-01-2011, 19:06   #5
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Mav,

One other thing... another good stop is usually the Clarence River (Iluka and Yamba). The bar is usually placid and all facilities are available inside. Fuel at good prices at the Iluka Boat Shed or the fish co-op in Iluka (NOT the Yamba marina). However, if the current fad of flooding is still in vogue, the entrance may well be closed. Check on that before you leave Southport.

And a general query: have you any experience with similar boats at sea? That wasn't made clear in the OP.

Cheers again,

Jim
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Old 09-01-2011, 21:23   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dame.n.Jess View Post
Can you go slower and save fuel? Say cruise at 7-8 knots. Every time you double your speed it takes 8 times the power (read fuel)...


Just a thought

Damien
Yes I can go slower and will do if I need to save fuel, I was considering hoping on to a southerly current to help save on fuel.

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
G'Day Mav,

The first leg -- Alice to the Gold Coast -- is a hard one!

Yes but it sure takes the barnacles off.

After that, the water is deeper and more easily navigated. My first and strongest suggestion is to get a copy of Alan Lucas's "Cruising the NSW Coast" (Southport to the NSW border is a no-brainer). Ann and I have done that stretch of coast countless times but always in a yacht, not a motorboat, and I doubt if our opinions about suitable conditions would match yours!

Yes you would definitely be looking for more wind than myself. I will search for a copy of the book you suggest, thanks.

But even at 6 or 7 knots it can easily be done in daylight hops, so you shouldn't have problems there. Alan's book covers the available anchorages quite well -- he is a pretty conservative sort, and you can trust his info, 'cause he has done it all himself.

And yes, Coffs is a likely fuel stop for you, around 150 miles from the seaway, and enterable in nearly all conditions. The marina there is, IMO, a poor choice (physically decrepit) and the anchorage outside of it is dicey and often uncomfortable. Port Mac is a bit more difficult to enter at times, with a bar that can be "interesting". Further, as of 6 weeks ago, the leads were not useable, and the instructions for entering were quite vague. We made it in moderately rough conditions, but were not too happy about it. Once inside, there is excellent anchorage to be had just around the corner in the Hastings river, and fuel available at the marina.

From there it's not very far on to Pt. Stephens... a piece of cake!

But again, I have no knowledge of seamanship in boats like yours, so take this all with a grain of... petrol?

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Church Point NSW Oz
Thanks Jim, I was seriously considering Iluka as I have a friend who lives there. Looking at it on google earth it seems a good choice. I watch the entrance to Pt Mac quite a lot using the web cam and I have rarely seen it calm there, most afternoons the easterlies kick up and the sea is quite rough at the entrance.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonV View Post
If you wish to save fuel head east from the sea way until you reach the 600ft/100fm/200M depth turn of motors sit back and enjoy the slow(can be 4 knots but free trip south,
when East Nelson bay head West and your home In about 8 days give of take some.

or get Alan Lucas's book.
Thanks Simon, I was hoping to pick up a southerly current, about how far off shore do you need to go to reach the 600' mark? I think 8 days to get down to Nelson Bay is a bit long for me but the southerly current is of interest.


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Mav,

One other thing... another good stop is usually the Clarence River (Iluka and Yamba). The bar is usually placid and all facilities are available inside. Fuel at good prices at the Iluka Boat Shed or the fish co-op in Iluka (NOT the Yamba marina). However, if the current fad of flooding is still in vogue, the entrance may well be closed. Check on that before you leave Southport.

And a general query: have you any experience with similar boats at sea? That wasn't made clear in the OP.

Cheers again,

Jim
The flooding is a real worry for me at the moment, who knows what is floating just under the surface with all the debris being washed out to sea. I saw a report yesterday that said there was fresh water out to 17 km off shorein some parts.

Of course with rivers being swollen it will make navigation a bit tense if they have not closed the entrance. I still have a few weeks up my sleeve before I can do the trip so I am hoping that this rain will calm down and allow things to get back to some kind of normality.

As for boating experience, plenty with small trailer boats but not with this size vessel. I am spending a few days at Runaway Bay to get used to her and how she handles.

I grew up in Port Stephens so I know the waters there fairly well but I have never been up the coast from there in a boat. I go charter fishing quite a bit out of Port Stephens too.

This is of the sea trial I did on her the other day on the Broadwater.

Cheers

Mav
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Old 10-01-2011, 00:18   #7
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VHF, weather and bars...

You would be familiar with the excellent coastal weather forecasts available from the BOM. Do read them carefully as sometimes there is information "between the lines". It can be helpful to start reading them a few days before your planned departure.

I'm not sure how good the information is but the CSIRO has a page on ocean currents including the East Coast Current.

Once you get near NSW the Vounteer Marine Rescue has a chain of VHF stations. They will take your details and check that you arrive at each destination safely. I have never heard them ask questions about VHF licenses.

Marine Rescue should also be able to advise on the conditions on the various bars.
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Old 10-01-2011, 01:06   #8
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You would be familiar with the excellent coastal weather forecasts available from the BOM. Do read them carefully as sometimes there is information "between the lines". It can be helpful to start reading them a few days before your planned departure.

I'm not sure how good the information is but the CSIRO has a page on ocean currents including the East Coast Current.

Once you get near NSW the Vounteer Marine Rescue has a chain of VHF stations. They will take your details and check that you arrive at each destination safely. I have never heard them ask questions about VHF licenses.

Marine Rescue should also be able to advise on the conditions on the various bars.

Yes I am very familiar with the BOM reports plus if I am close enough to get 3G coverage I intend to use the iPad to display the weather RADAR on the way down the coast.

I have already had a discussion with the GC Seaway Coastal Patrol base and I will be lodging a trip schedule with them. They have advised me that they will keep in contact with me on the way down and hand me off to the next coastal patrol base as I pass them.

I tried to get to the CSIRO ocean current web page the other day but it would not come up for me.

Cheers

Mav
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Old 10-01-2011, 14:05   #9
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G'DAy again Mav,

Today's reports on the Clarence are not encouraging! But, in a few weeks the situation should (hopefully) be better. Once inside the river, the anchorage at Iluka is pretty well protected from flood debris, but getting there with flood conditions would be dicey to say the least.

Looking at the CSIRO current charts is most interesting. The big lessons for us were that the EAC isn't a big, broad, steady sort of river in the sea. Rather it is quite complex, with eddies, "whirlpools", counter currents and lots of fine detail. The result of this is that it changes, (on the micro scale that is important to the yottie) quite rapidly. What is experienced this week may be quite different next week. We've never had offshore internet access, but if one did, it would be quite interesting to try and find the best routing, either north or southbound. The former in particular would be useful to us slow-boats. We once spent what seemed like a week trying to get past Cape Byron, close inshore... we measured five knots adverse current at one point! I bet we could have found a better route with access to those charts!!!

Lacking such info, when southbound you will find little current until you clear Danger reefs (off Tweed heads). From there following the general shape of the coast, but out in 200+ feet depth or more you are likely to have from 1 to 2 knots favorable current until you reach Seal Rocks and turn in towards Pt Stephens. There you will very likely loose the current and be subject to tidal flow instead, and that isn't much until you get close to the entrance.

And finally, the CSIRO data is accessible via the BOM website.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 10-01-2011, 14:51   #10
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G'DAy again Mav,

Today's reports on the Clarence are not encouraging! But, in a few weeks the situation should (hopefully) be better. Once inside the river, the anchorage at Iluka is pretty well protected from flood debris, but getting there with flood conditions would be dicey to say the least.

Looking at the CSIRO current charts is most interesting. The big lessons for us were that the EAC isn't a big, broad, steady sort of river in the sea. Rather it is quite complex, with eddies, "whirlpools", counter currents and lots of fine detail. The result of this is that it changes, (on the micro scale that is important to the yottie) quite rapidly. What is experienced this week may be quite different next week. We've never had offshore internet access, but if one did, it would be quite interesting to try and find the best routing, either north or southbound. The former in particular would be useful to us slow-boats. We once spent what seemed like a week trying to get past Cape Byron, close inshore... we measured five knots adverse current at one point! I bet we could have found a better route with access to those charts!!!

Lacking such info, when southbound you will find little current until you clear Danger reefs (off Tweed heads). From there following the general shape of the coast, but out in 200+ feet depth or more you are likely to have from 1 to 2 knots favorable current until you reach Seal Rocks and turn in towards Pt Stephens. There you will very likely loose the current and be subject to tidal flow instead, and that isn't much until you get close to the entrance.

And finally, the CSIRO data is accessible via the BOM website.

Cheers,

Jim

Thanks for the insights Jim, much appreciated. I cannot believe this weather, who would have thought Toowoomba would have been hit the way it has been. Crazy stuff happening that is for sure, only 12 months ago and SE Qld was in the grip of one of the worst droughts it has seen and now this.
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Old 01-03-2011, 15:44   #11
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Re: Southport, Qld to Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

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G'DAy again Mav,

Today's reports on the Clarence are not encouraging! But, in a few weeks the situation should (hopefully) be better. Once inside the river, the anchorage at Iluka is pretty well protected from flood debris, but getting there with flood conditions would be dicey to say the least.

Looking at the CSIRO current charts is most interesting. The big lessons for us were that the EAC isn't a big, broad, steady sort of river in the sea. Rather it is quite complex, with eddies, "whirlpools", counter currents and lots of fine detail. The result of this is that it changes, (on the micro scale that is important to the yottie) quite rapidly. What is experienced this week may be quite different next week. We've never had offshore internet access, but if one did, it would be quite interesting to try and find the best routing, either north or southbound. The former in particular would be useful to us slow-boats. We once spent what seemed like a week trying to get past Cape Byron, close inshore... we measured five knots adverse current at one point! I bet we could have found a better route with access to those charts!!!

Lacking such info, when southbound you will find little current until you clear Danger reefs (off Tweed heads). From there following the general shape of the coast, but out in 200+ feet depth or more you are likely to have from 1 to 2 knots favorable current until you reach Seal Rocks and turn in towards Pt Stephens. There you will very likely loose the current and be subject to tidal flow instead, and that isn't much until you get close to the entrance.

And finally, the CSIRO data is accessible via the BOM website.

Cheers,

Jim
I delivered a yacht from Scarborough QLD to Port Stephens a few years ago and searched in vain for the elusive southern current. Reading Alan Lucas' book later revealed it can be sporadic. I was told (or maybe read somewhere) that the current is stronger after about a week of northerly winds. Perhaps someone on the forum can confirm if this is their experience.
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Old 01-03-2011, 16:00   #12
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Re: Southport, Qld to Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

Just to conclude this thread from my perspective. I have abandoned my effort to relocate the boat to Port Stephens and have placed the boat back on the market at Runaway Bay.

Unfortunately the survey and mechanical reports I had done failed to find the problems that I encountered whilst trying to get the boat ready. I have completed the repairs but they drained the funds for the relocation trip and I ran out of time there repairing the boat so there was no time left for motoring down the coast.

So that is it for this venture, a bit of a failed one at that.

Cheers

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Old 07-01-2012, 13:24   #13
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Heading off from Brisbane to Port Stephens later this week in a 44' cat. Plan to keep going, but can someone tell me if the Iluka entrance is safe for a night entrance- assuming low swell and second half of rising tide. This is just in case we get caught with a strong southerly heading our way and need to get out of it's way.
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Old 07-01-2012, 20:12   #14
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Re: Southport, Qld to Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

Hi Teeto,
It has been a few years since I sailed into Iluka. I recall having no problem as the weather was good and the swell about a metre. But a note of caution from the 2nd book on Circumnavigating Australia's Coastline by Jeff Toghill- "Entering the Clarence River from the sea can be an extremely dangerous exercise in bad conditions and the bar has claimed many victims... Although the leads provide good guidance, the bar may shift from time to time, and dangerous conditions may develop so that entry is restricted or even prohibited. The bar must always be crossed before the top of the tide, for the runout of ebb in the mouth of the river is often in excess of 3 knots. Once between the breakwater arms, the choice of destination determines the direction to take."

I had difficulty navigating the channel to Yamba due to the draught of our vessel so instead opted for the Iluka Basin which had 6 metres of water near the old jetty.

This info is dated so just confirm with local coast guard or air sea rescue on ch16
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Old 08-01-2012, 15:33   #15
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Re: Southport, Qld to Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

G'Day Teeto,

The Clarence bar is one of the easiest on the NSW coast. In extreme conditions it may be closed out, but this is fairly rare and will not happen without some advance notice if one pays attention to the weather.

But, the entrance should not usually be attempted by following the leads from out at sea, for they will lead you over the bar itself. The actual bar lies a few hundred metres to seaward of the ends of the breakwaters... position changes somewhat over time. So, the best route into the river is to sail about parallel with the beach, aimed more or less at the ends of the breakwaters. There are nav lights on the ends of the jetties. Give them something like 30-50 metres clearance and then turn in sharply. The entrance is usually at least 5 metres depth, often considerably deeper. The leads then take you near the south wall, but in fact the whole width of the stream is usable. Once inside there are secondary leads for entering the Yamba side and fixed lights defining the two entrances to the Iluka harbour. In most conditions it is possible to anchor at Moriarty's corner outside the Iluka harbour, or on the Yamba side just opposite the eastern entrance to Iluka... if you don't want to mess with getting into either protected area.

While it is always more conservative to cross bars as it nears high water slack, the Clarence is usually approachable in most tidal states. If large swells are present, that advice looses validity! Also remember that the tidal over run can last for up to three hours, and is usually at least 2 hours... plan your timing with this in mind!

We've spent a lot of time on the Clarence, and can recommend it as a recreational stop as well as for R&R or weather avoidance.

Cheers,

Jim
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