Lake Macquarie to Port Stevens
We returned from breakfast with Kev and Jodie, [thanks guys unexpected delight to spend some more time with you] with plenty of time to make the high tide. In the end, any trepidation about crossing the bar was miss placed. It was safe and uneventful with a minimum depth of three meters.
As we headed up the coast, the wind shifted to the north before dropping out to a couple of knots. We were forced to use the iron sail.
Thunder and lightning at sea can be beautiful, but only when it’s off in the distance and moving away from you. Lightning strikes are rare, but they do happen, for example, Wild Oats XI was hit be lightening in the leadup to this years Sydney to Hobart. The danger in a lightning storm is that a strike would fry the electronics; no radio, no depth sounder, no charts, the vessels would be dead in the water. I think we are ok because the boat would act as a Gaussian cage.
Nearing Port Stephens we encountered a huge thunderhead blocking our path. Can you believe it, one cloud in the sky and it’s in our way. Neither Bronwyn or I wanted to enter a new waterway in poor visibility, so we turned due east and headed out to sea running parallel to the storm for about half an hour while we studied its course.
We also wanted to make it through the headland before the moon set. At night once the moon sets, you lose all of the visual distance clues that you take for granted during daylight hours. It quickly becomes impossible to judge distances, everything seems to be so close.
Bronwyn's prior research confirmed that baring something stupid we had enough room so, despite the storm, we made a U-turn and steered a course for Port Stephens. Even though the moon had not entirely set, the sky was already inky black making it difficult to discern the headlands from the sea. Old eyes and dirty glasses also don't help. Fortunately, the lights from the far end of the bay provided a bit of silhouette of the headlands enabling us to navigate a course to Shoal Bay.
We anchored safety and logged off at 11:30 with the local VMR.