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Old 20-03-2018, 19:32   #1
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Lord Howe Island Cruise

Me and my crew of four just got back from our Port Stephens to Lord Howe Island cruise. Lord Howe Island is a wonderful place. It's physically beautiful with twin majestic peaks, has prolific birdlife, healthy reefs and excellent snorkelling/diving. There are several stunning walking trails including the famous Mount Gower 8-10 hour guided walk on fixed ropes part of the way. The island fully deserves its World Heritage status and reputation as one of the most beautiful islands of the Pacific. There were enough shore-side activities to keep us busy during our stay, including a small museum which hosts regular lectures.

It took us 70 hours to get out there and 58 hours to get back in our Lavezzi 40-foot catamaran. We ended up spending 10 days on a mooring in the lagoon just off Dawson's Point about 500 metres from the jetty. The mooring cost us about AUD 70 per day including admin fees and environmental levies. We felt this was acceptable given the location and the good facilities ashore. Bikes can be hired for $55 per week and basic provisioning is possible. Wifi is available with the best deal providing 1gb for $10. Remarkably, we were the only visiting yacht during our entire stay.

The main reason Lord Howe is not visited more often by yachts is that it is a true offshore destination and the northern Tasman Sea is one of the more challenging stretches of water. The area is subject to both tropical lows coming from the north as well as vigorous fronts from the south and the occasional but dreaded East Coast Lows which can develop rapidly off the coast of eastern Australia. There are also many currents including various eddies and branches of the East Australian Current. Of course these currents can be useful as they were to us on our return when we effortlessly averaged close to 10 knots SOG for several hours. On our way out, however, we had a difficult 24 hours battling a 25-33 knot southerly, 3-4 metre seas and a north-flowing current which threatened to push us away from Lord Howe. Careful passage planning, routing and a good crew are essential. One great feature of Lord Howe is that you can get a personal briefing from the resident Bureau of Meteorology officer at the airport - just give Amy a call on VHF 12 to arrange a visit.

I had heard bad stories of extreme discomfort in the lagoon at high tide. In reality it wasn't too bad at all but this was largely due to being on a catamaran. Conditions are also better during neap tides. The shallow draft of a catamaran was also very helpful giving us more options for mooring and getting in and out of the lagoon. We entered though North Passage almost at low tide with a 3-metre SSE swell running and it was fine. Likewise we departed at half-tide through a developed SW swell and the North Passage was also fine although big rollers were spectacularly breaking on either side of us. The main concern was depth inside the lagoon which is scattered with many coral heads and I wouldn't be so keen to visit Lord Howe on a monohull.

Overall, this was one of the best cruises, and indeed travel experiences, of my life.
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Old 20-03-2018, 20:36   #2
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

Great story and insight!! thanks for sharing!!
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Old 21-03-2018, 00:41   #3
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

Sounds like the place needs the attention of a developer, bulldoze an 18 hole golf course, whack a 40 story hotel on the beach front, blast one of the mountains for rock to enclose the bay and dredge out the corral for a decent marina and us big spending yachties will flood the place with visitors.

On a more serious note, sounds like you had a pretty good voyage.
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Old 21-03-2018, 02:47   #4
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

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Sounds like the place needs the attention of a developer, bulldoze an 18 hole golf course, whack a 40 story hotel on the beach front, blast one of the mountains for rock to enclose the bay and dredge out the corral for a decent marina and us big spending yachties will flood the place with visitors.

On a more serious note, sounds like you had a pretty good voyage.
Thankfully that's not likely to happen as the number of tourist beds is limited to 400, all the "resorts" are tiny and the board voted to block a proposal to put in a mobile phone tower. Incidentally, if you're not going there by yacht then it's also very expensive to stay there. It's unspoilt and long may it stay that way!
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Old 21-03-2018, 05:48   #5
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

What is the daily mooring/landing fee? You mention expensive?
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Old 21-03-2018, 13:27   #6
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

The daily mooring fee including admin fee and per person environmental levy for four people for 10 days came to $70 Australian per day or $17.50 a head.
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Old 21-03-2018, 13:59   #7
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

Thanks for the fantastic description of your trip. We are headed there in approximately 2 weeks time; weather window permitting.
Did you prearranged your permit “to attach to a public mooring”? Our permit took approximately 2 weeks to come through.
We’re you able to choose your mooring or are they allocated by the authorities?
Finally, what do you call “basic provisioning” as we are not returning to our home country of Australia after Lord Howe.
Thanks again.
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Old 21-03-2018, 16:58   #8
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

We didn't buy much there except fresh bread. There is a small supermarket called Joy's shop which had the basics but was quite expensive. Roughly equivalent to a mainland IGA. The supply ship comes in every two weeks. There is a farm where you could buy some fresh produce.

We prearranged our permit months in advance which turned out to be unnecessary as we were the only yacht there. We had NP1 which was good as it was close to the jetty but only suitable for shallow draft ie 1.2 metres or less. If you are deep draft you will be moored quite far away so a good tender is essential. Simon the harbour master will know which one is best.
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Old 21-03-2018, 19:45   #9
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

A fair number of folks live full time on the island. Must be a source of vittles somewhere!

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Old 21-03-2018, 21:05   #10
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

Thanks for sharing this story, Budawang!

I'm thinking of heading there as well in the next few weeks, albeit in a monohull.
My dinghy doesn't have an outboard at the moment, maybe I should get one?
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Old 21-03-2018, 21:12   #11
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

With a population of about 400 plus up to 400 visitors I wouldn't expect to store ship there for a long sea voyage. Chatham Islands had a pop of about 700 when I was there.... they had a brewery but flew in frozen bread from Unzud.... there was very little in 'the shop'.... as said much like a small town general store.

Lots of people in this sort of place have their own orders made up by a providore on the big island and shipped to them direct.
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Old 21-03-2018, 21:43   #12
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

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With a population of about 400 plus up to 400 visitors I wouldn't expect to store ship there for a long sea voyage.
True enough, Ping, but possibly top up stores consumed since leaving the big island a few day previously. Prices being what they are, I'd try to minimize on-island purchases myself!

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Old 21-03-2018, 21:50   #13
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukim Yu View Post
Thanks for the fantastic description of your trip. We are headed there in approximately 2 weeks time; weather window permitting.
Did you prearranged your permit “to attach to a public mooring”? Our permit took approximately 2 weeks to come through.
We’re you able to choose your mooring or are they allocated by the authorities?
Finally, what do you call “basic provisioning” as we are not returning to our home country of Australia after Lord Howe.
Thanks again.
Lord Howe island is a part of NSW, Australia and I was of the belief that it no longer had a customs office so how do you clear out if leaving Australia from there?
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Old 21-03-2018, 22:07   #14
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

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Originally Posted by hzcruiser View Post
Thanks for sharing this story, Budawang!

I'm thinking of heading there as well in the next few weeks, albeit in a monohull.
My dinghy doesn't have an outboard at the moment, maybe I should get one?
Yes, I would definitely invest in an outboard! It will be around 1 mile to get ashore and the lagoon can be quite choppy.
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Old 21-03-2018, 22:11   #15
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Re: Lord Howe Island Cruise

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Lord Howe island is a part of NSW, Australia and I was of the belief that it no longer had a customs office so how do you clear out if leaving Australia from there?
I think you can clear out on the mainland but still stop at Lord Howe and spend some time ashore. This was definitely the case two years ago. The island Police officer Simon (he's also the harbour master) can set you straight.
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