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The Port Stephens marina

Over the rainbow- fishing pole in action

Tony ready for another fish

Our next Benito eaten raw a new taste sensation

Brian after a hard stretch on the helm

Rain off Smokey Cape

Rain off Coffs Harbour

Ben our new best friend - our auto helm expert

I woke the crew at 5.00 am, it was cold and overcast by the time I had showered. After breakfast, a torrent of rain started to fall from the heavens. Seven o clock saw us filling the fuel tank. Almost a disaster when the wrong fuel was almost put in. Lucky for me Brian picked up the mistake. (Haste makes waste) Then we were off for a new adventure. Leaving Port Stephens was a fantastic feeling. The wind was coming from the South East and we made good time. Tony picked up a Benito, lucky for the fish I wasn't fast enough with the catch bucket and the fish slipped off the lure back into his watery home. Within 15 minutes a not so lucky Benito was being prepared for the fridge. Tony insisted that Benito is a great fish eaten raw. It took a little convincing for me to try it. A warm salty, clammy taste comes to mind. I am sure it's better with Soy sauce and Wasabi. Later that night our auto-helm stopped working again, this after being repaired in Port Stephens. The bolts had sheared again !!!! It looked like a night of hand steering and little sleep. By the time we reached South West Rocks the wind had moved to our beam and we were reaching along in a nice fashion. I called my friend Paul who runs the local tackle shop. I think he thinks I am crazy sailing around in the cold and wet conditions.

Brian had made the galley his own and supplied mugs of hot tea, fruit cake and other hearty snacks were never in short supply. In fact Tony and Brian turned out to be boon sailing companions. Catering to the sometimes lazy Skippers whims.

The next stop was Coffs Harbour, I had arranged to pick up my reserve crew member Bob. I also hoped to find a local agent for my Raymarine auto helm.

A large splash and some tail flapping was seen in the distance two whales were breaching and dare I say having a whale of a time.

On arrival in Coffs Harbour Bob was there, but no agent, the local agent is in Port Macquarie some few hours drive away and it was Saturday afternoon when we arrived. Tony mentioned he new an expert tool maker/mechanical engineer. Ben and his family had only just moved to Coffs from Sydney. Ben inspected the auto-helm fittings and declared to my surprise that the bolts replaced in Port Stephens were exactly the same type as the original bolts. He called the installer to discuss the situation stronger steel bolts were needed and some small adjustments here and there. Hopefully some technical help will fix the problem. It seems the auto-helm bracket keeps flexing eventually wearing and breaking the bolts. Ben proved a real nice fellow driving me around to buy bits and bobs much appreciated. Bob and his wife also were upholstery experts. I had a fuel sensor replaced before leaving Sydney and it hadn't been sealed correctly and fuel had leaked onto the cushions. We rescued the situation by doing the staples holding the covers on, washing them and putting back on with upholstery tacks.

In Coffs I met up with an old friend from a navigation course. We discussed the coming weather and he mentioned Ballina as a potential haven from bad weather. I advised him against Ballina because of it's unpredictable entrance (more on getting stuck in Ballina next).

We had a couple of nice dinners at the sailing club. Wasted more money in the ships Chandlers. What else is sailing about.

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