There is no port more distinctive than Coffs Harbour along the East Coast of Australia: this is not your average rocky wall protecting its entrance, but a fortress looking breakwater both to the South and now to the North of the harbour. We stayed inside for a few days with the northerlies blowing.
You might recall this photo taken on our last visit, as we arrived at sunset. The breakwater really looked like a parapet, especially in that light!
Last year the Northern wall and the marina got seriously damaged by a violent storm, but a year later the Northern breakwater is rebuilt, using the same cement blocks with the same profile as the Southern wall, and providing a lot more protection to the fishing harbour and marina.
We did not stay in the marina, choosing instead to anchor Take It Easy on the left of the long jetty. In northerly conditions Coffs is very pleasant, with a gentle subtropical climate – still chilly at night, but shorts weather during the day – at least for those that have come from cold climes! The locals don’t seem to partake in this crazy behaviour in winter.
But we are on a mission to get north and even though this is a nice place, we needed to move on. So bright and early on Monday morning we headed off with a strong SW change, bound for Yamba-Iluka. Brilliant sunrise, but with only 2 degrees temperature the morning was very cold, even biting, demanding the full Musto catastrophe to be worn, complete with beanie and gloves to keep warm!
With the SW forecast to strengthen during the day, we sailed quite close to the coast to stay in flat water. We wove our way through the Solitary Islands.
We made good time to the Clarence River mouth, arriving at 2.30pm after an 8 hour sail. There is a large moon shaped sandbank outside which can generate breaking waves, but the bar was calm so we aimed for the southern corner of the sandbank and snuck inside the breakwater. Once inside you can go either to the southern side of the river where the town of Yamba is, or to the northern side where the quieter village of Iluka is.
We chose to shelter behind another breakwater wall at Iluka. Although not as striking as the one in Coffs, this other little fortress is normally a rookery for crested terns but being winter, we haven’t seen any birdies! So much for bird photography!
We are staying put here and waiting for the worst of the southerly to pass before we get on our way again to Byron Bay and beyond. The wind is picking up and gale warnings are forecast for the next two days, together with big swell, which is likely to make the bar impassable. Only a short time ago a yacht tried to cross the bar at Yamba in serious swell, got pooped (wave over the back) and sustained some damage with the dinghy filling up with water and getting torn off the davits. They had to call for Marine Rescue’s help. We really don’t need that kind of stress!
Here is a chart of where we are at… nearly out of New South Wales!