Pittwater to Newcastle Blue Water

Rating: 5.00/5 (3 Votes)

Well what a weekend we had - great sailing, good fun, dolphins, burgers, nightclubbing.  On the way home storms, with pouring rain and 35 knt winds and with decent size waves on the nose all the way. We have put the best bits into a video for you to enjoy.... (dont forget to turn up the music and go full screen!)

Now back to the beginning!  

We got the green light to compete after passing our Category 3 safety certificate on the Monday. Dave finished renewing his First Aid Certificate on Thursday and so we were all good to go. 

The weather forecast had been dicey all week, 20-30 knots, 6-10 knots, and 15-20 knots at different stages of the week. We really didnt know what to plan for until the morning. We woke up to a beautiful day as you can see in the video and ended up with around a 12 knot south westerly that turned south which was looking good!

Next on the list was getting to the club early and meeting the crew, numbering the lifejackets and ensuring they fit properly and everyone knew their number. Running through the new safety gear and revising the offshore safety induction, along with revising the safety booklet for Newcastle harbour with the crew.  

Crew shot web

Its of course very important that everyone knows what they are doing in an emergency but at the same time its alot of information for a first year sailor to absorb, in thier first Blue Water Cat 3 race. There is alot of talk about "...and if this disaster occurs this is what happens, and if this disaster happens..then do this..." and I could see a few nervous faces looking round. Time for a famous pre-race pep talk and it was time to go!

Allanna PFD web  Leaving RPAYC web

We shook off the nerves with the normal pre-race routine heading up Pittwater and got the sails up ready to go. The start was a headsail for manourvering and then instantly once accross the line an assymetrical spinnaker hoist and head up the coast. 

start PNR

We got a great start as you would have seen in the vid and were about 4th or 5th over the line behind Swish and Tailwind and quite close to Occassional Course Language.

We sailed our angles up the coast but sailed into a couple of holes as the wind shifted and got caught on the wrong gybe once the wind shifted. We lost a little bit of time through coming back inshore through the middle of the race.  

The race was quite uneventful for the most part....the keen sailors will notice the boom riding a bit high for the downwind leg as we blew up the spit pin and as a result it let go of the mast for a little while. Matt and Morag got that sorted out pretty quickly with some wire and a bit of swearing. 

The only other issue was the white R2 spinnaker got caught on one of the forward facing stays which meant a small tear and another larger one getting it down. We just seem to have no luck with this spinnaker, it is the only one we seem to constantly get caught up so I think a visit from Toby or Heath for some driving and crew tips might be in order. 

At just after 5pm we crossed the line just ahead of "Sticky", 5th on handicap and 14th over the line.


We were welcomed at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club by the Harbourmaster and a bottle of rum! Everyone got a nip as the stepped onto the dock. 

Welcome Run

We enjoyed the hospitality at the club before heading back to our hotel to get changed and head out for some dinner, gourmet burgers at the Queens Wharf Brewery. Quite a few drinks later we stumbled back to our room to find there was a nightclub going on downstairs in the pub we were staying at which was vibrating the whole front of the building......very interesting and consumate with what we were paying to stay there I suppose! 

The way up to Newcastle was around 2 hours prep and 7 hours sailing, if only it was that easy on the way home the next day!

weather PNR

Sporting some terrific hangovers we headed to the boat to get organised for the trip home, the wind was up significantly at around 25-30 knots and it was quite heavy rain. We ran the motor up the harbour which looked significantly different to the day before, get and wet and windy! The boats for the Newcastle to Port Stephens race were lining up for their start, and we got ourselves together with 2 reefs in the main and a small #4 headsail to start heading home. 

We didnt get alot of pictures as it is not that easy to move around with the boat banging into the waves and the rain coming down but we did get a couple in one of the few calm periods during the day. 

Morag Marcus PNR Gareth PNR

For many of the crew the cold wet and rough conditions, combined with their hangovers was all a little bit much and there were quite a few struck with seasickness over the course of the day. Having said that it was quite tough conditions as night fell and the wind peaked at 35 knots, the rain pelted down and the waves were quite big at around 4 meters according to the wave bouys.

Having said all that, it was quite tame compared to what you can get further out to sea or in a big storm so its very good for our relatively inexperienced crew to get a mild taste of what its like on those long wet stormy days. I know there has been alot of the guys looking at their gear and the priority of getting stuff that is really going to keep them dry and warm. 

We got home around 10.30/11pm Sunday night. Dock to Dock was around 14 hours with about 12 hours of sailing into the wind, which contrasts with the nice easy sail we had up there! On a happy note the boat stayed together and we didn't break anything - persoanlly I can't wait to do it all again!