Sedate Lake Macquarie – or was it?

We had not intended to move inside Lake Macquarie after our provisioning in Swansea, but the change of forecast meant we had time to kill before heading out again.  Local catamaran sailors Phil and Deb Thompson came on board to pick our brains about Tasmania.  It was nice meeting them; they have been following us for a while and encouraged us to go in. “Pleasant and easy cruising with no tide”, as they said, so a sedate, restful spot to come to.

Southern Lake Macquarie

Southern part of Lake Macquarie

So we went through Swansea’s opening bascule bridge. We always feel oversized when we pass through the narrow gap with the tide running fast, but all went well and we turned south at the end of the Swansea channel to find one of the rare quiet spots.

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9G5A7527The lake is large, 110km2, but the shores are populated, particularly in the northern part. With an enticing balmy water temperature of 240 we thought “warm, flat, safe waters, we will be able to finish what we started at Broughton Island and wipe the hulls clean.”

Shark!

That is until we saw the rather large shark swimming around just past Wangi Wangi Point, on our way to Myuna Bay! A bit of a check of the sea fish book and local news confirmed a Great White lurks around! So much for sedate Lake Macquarie! Scaredy pants Wadie is no longer jumping in the water to scrub the hulls! I went for a paddle, keeping an eye out for a dorsal fin, but only found a turtle sticking its head out to check me out – a much safer encounter.

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Midnight move

As if this was not enough unexpected happenings, the wind shifted in the middle of the night, making our anchorage bouncy and noisy in the short chop and we decided to move to Pulbah Island at midnight, and grab one of the two courtesy moorings. We don’t like moving at night, but it was straight forward. As you can see from the map, that anchorage is on the opposite side of the bay from Wangi Wangi Point, close to the big shark! The balmy water did not beckon, but the sound of forest birds was rather lovely.

Boat maintenance

There is always something to fix on board, so we did a few chores. A long self-taper had snapped on one of the fixing points for the bracket that supports the wind generator, solar panels and barbecue… just a minor inconvenience! We managed to get the broken bit off and Wade replaced it with a much heavier coach screw. A good job done!

I then winched Wade up the mast, well I belayed him and he climbed, to straighten our data aerial that was sitting at a funny angle, probably hit by a shearwater! The view from the top of the mast is always impressive!

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After a few days of heat and no sign of sharks, I could not convince Wade to scrub the hulls but was desperate for something to do, so decided to be brave and get on with the job. Afterwards, I came out covered with tiny little wiggly worms, requiring a scrubbing of my own body at the back of the sugar scoops. Oh yuk! I used a whole camp shower bag and plenty of paranoid scrubbing to get rid of those wigglies!

Thunder and lightning, very very frightening!

Lightning Dissipator

Hocus Pocus, the lightning deflector, otherwise known as the dunny brush!

And then the weather went from balmy to nasty, with severe thunderstorms in the middle of the night. We were ready for them with clears over the cockpit, rain collection system plugged in, sitting snug on a big fat courtesy mooring, and Wade hoping his bit of copper in the water at the back and the dunny brush at the top of the mast would do their magic and we would dodge the lightning bolts! Have we ever told you we don’t like thunderstorms?

Well this one was serious, one of the most frightening we have ever been through. For several hours, fork lightning as thick as tree trunks, and sheet lightning criss crossing like nets lit up the sky, accompanied by deafening thunder and heavy rain. We were counting the seconds between lightning bolt and thunder clap, and it got down to one second a few times, coming right on top of us then moving away, only to return again. Nothing we could do except hope. The following images are not ours, but show you exactly what we saw.

Fork Lightning

Sheet Lightning

Sedate Lake Macquarie – not quite! But as we left Pulbah Island, our last two images from the Lake are a beautiful White-bellied Sea Eagle and sunset at the Swansea bridge.

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With the return of the northerlies, we are now heading off to Broken Bay to meet up with our friend Sue again!

16 thoughts on “Sedate Lake Macquarie – or was it?

  1. Wow. You are having quite a series of adventures, Chris. Stay safe out there and hopefully, despite all of the chores and challenges, you are still having fun.

  2. Great pictures as always! Let me tell you…how can you sleep at night after all these tension charged experiences? You have nerves of steel and are the coolest couple I know, really. 🙂

    • We’ll actually HJ we haven’t been sleeping so well… not so cool at all! The night of the storm it was impossible anyway with all that thunder and the lightning show! You can’t help but think of the consequences of something going wrong. But these last few days were not your typical time, so let’s hope we get some shuteye tonight!

  3. If you’d had a list of things to experience on this trip I think you would have ticked all the boxes by now!

  4. Thanks for the afternoon tea and pearls of wisdom on Tassie. I am chagrined that my advice was so obviously wrong, never listen to a local. The lake used to have no sharks at all but now it is cleaner and there is no commercial fishing we have a few every now and then. In 2014 we sailed all the way from the lake to Hinchinbrook and back again and only saw reefies, until our first sail back in the lake where we saw a great white.

    Thanks for saying the lake is a grim place to sail. Now no-one will come and visit and it will stay nice and clear of boats. Can you put this post on the jetski and Riviera pages so they get the message extra loud?

    Thanks again

    Phil

    • We have a pet hate for jet skis as well!
      We talked to a few locals after seeing the shark and they did not seem surprised… even got asked whether we saw the white pointer or the hammerhead!

      We hope your right turn at Moon Island brings you lots of discoveries and great sails! Have fun down south!

  5. Great photos! How does the dunny brush work? Does it stay up the mast all the time or do you hoist it when there is a chance of a storm? What is it connected to?

    • It is a lightning deflector that supposedly sends out negative ions and deflects lightning. It is stainless steel and permanently bolted to he mast

    • Oops hit send too early! It sits higher than the aerials. We think it’s a bit of hocus pocus but for a couple of hundred dollars, if it helps, why not! You should be able google “”Forespar Lightning Master Static Dissipator” and get the info.

  6. Yikes!
    I had a similar experience in Singapore during a thunderstorm. Had my hand on the boom and felt tingling through my hand and arm, realized a leader was forming, dived down in the cockpit and then boom. Instant light and sound. Close call.

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