Shortly after we left, Iluka Marine Rescue made an announcement on the radio that they were going off the air. They were evacuating because the flames were getting a little close to the town. That particular fire was the only one in New South Wales that was still being classified as out of control. They got light winds and a little rain in the next couple of days and with exhaustive efforts from the local (mostly volunteer) firefighters were able to keep it from reaching the town.
We had a fast spinnaker run down the coast, which was good, because Coff’s is a long way from Iluka. We even got a huge boost of up to three knots from the East Australia Current to help make sure we made it there before dark.
Just after we hoisted the sail, Maryanne spotted a Humpback whale. We tried to go see it, but it outran us. Then it started to snow in big, fluffy flakes. That was weird. It was baking out there.
The flakes turned out to be ash from the fires. It fell so gently that some were still identifiable as former blades of grass or pieces of bark.
Around the harbour
and from atop Mutton Bird Island Kyle gets a view of the marina
and a sighting of this cute 'Superb Fairybird Wren'
At Coff’s, we took one of the two free public mooring balls, alongside a Catamaran flying a Swiss flag. You don’t see too many Swiss flags out there and I had the vague feeling I had seen this one before. After a while, the owner came over in his dinghy and said he had recognized us. It was Hans Pieter. He had last seen us in Suwarrow in 2017 when we were the only two boats there. He lives in Coff’s now with his girlfriend Suzanne. Well, we have a lot of catching up to do! We promised to keep in touch so we could meet up before we leave.
Headwinds were in the forecast tor the next few days, so we decided to splash out and move to the marina.
We went grocery shopping and did a big load of laundry. We also managed to rent a car for the day from a local company. The proprietress was named Donna and she called us “Darling” every other sentence. That started as quaint, but quickly wore thin.
We had the usual car day of driving as far as we could get in the available daylight. Our first stop, because it was on the way, was the Big Banana. The Big Banana at Coff’s Harbour is the very first Big Thing that started the whole trend in Australia, so we had to see it.
From the 'big banana' in Coff's Harbour - to Dangar Falls in Dorrigo
From there, we went to several parks. Most of our time was spent in the impressive Dorrigo National Rainforest walking through giant gum trees dangling thick vines. We also stopped at Bongil Bongil National Park in the last hour before the gates were shut for the night. There is supposed to be a population of koalas there of which we were hoping to catch a glimpse. We didn’t.
Our next day was a lot less fun. Someone spilled wine on our PC laptop. We acted quickly, but were not able to save it. Maryanne spent the morning dealing with a repair guy who seemed enthusiastic where Maryanne had given up hope - while I bought a couple of jugs of fuel, washed all of the ash off of the boat and filled the water tanks.
Once the guy determined that he could not help us after all, Maryanne went to work on the internet finding a replacement. She found cheap one in a local store and even managed to get the computer guy to drive us when he brought us back our old one.
We then had a miserable afternoon of spending a lot of money we hadn’t planned on almost what we needed and then having to spend even more time and money to get it the way we want it. We were weary and sooo sick of the mall when we headed off on the long walk home.
Hans Pieter and Suzanne were coming over later, so we wanted to get ready. Maryanne went for a shower and I tidied up a little. I got done first, so I poured half a cup of wine and sat down at the Mac to check the weather for the next day’s departure.
You knew where this was going. Yep, I knocked the glass over, right on the keyboard.
This time, I moved so fast that I almost beat the wine to the computer. We have a silicone keyboard cover for the Mac and I managed to get the thing flipped over and the cover off before any wine ran into the keyboard. Whew!
Then the thing started acting twitchy. After the third reboot, it wouldn’t start at all. Some wine had made it in through the trackpad.
We have several spare Macs, which we now use for parts. It only took Maryanne about half an hour to remove the hard drive (fortunately undamaged) and create a FrankenMac that works normally.
I can’t believe it. Two in one day! We have learned our lesson now, I hope. Our new rule is that no beverages are allowed to occupy the same surface as a computer and cannot be any closer than the furthest part of that surface that can be reached with a fully extended arm, whichever is further. We’d much rather stain our salon cushions than short out another computer.
Anyway, we were able to enjoy a nice evening with Hans Pieter and Suzanne, all sat out at the cockpit table, far from anything electronic. After leaving Suwarrow, while we were doing the big Chile loop, Hans Pieter sailed to New Zealand, then did a loop through the tropics to Australia along about the same path we did this year. Since then, he has spent a year sailing up and down the coast from his base in Coff’s Harbour. He has citizenship here, so he can stay as long as he likes. He is a fount of good information about cruising in Australia, which we were able to use to firm up some of our plans going ahead.