Upon arrival at Trial Bay 35 nautical miles (nm) north, an updated weather forecast showed northerlies heading our way. Instead of visiting Trial Bay we decided to continue motor sailing through the night in light southerlies to Coffs Harbour.
Tired we arrived in the middle of the night at Coffs Harbour, anchored in the main harbour, shared a #9 Stout and headed for bed. We only spent a day in Coffs Harbour where one of us (not naming any names) came up with the bright idea of spending a few days exploring the Solitary Islands. With this in mind we planned our departure for early the following morning. We travelled out to Split Solitary and onto South Solitary where we picked up a courtesy mooring.
Once settled in, out came the fishing gear and after a few hours of very successful fishing, a small boat approached. The run abouts occupants informed us that he believed we could be fishing inside the marine sanctuary. Mmm, that may explain why we've been so successful at hauling them in. To be on the safe side we decided it would be a good idea to put the fishing gear away and settle down for a nice fish dinner. The fridge was full anyway.
After a fairly rocky nights sleep, we travelled to North Solitary 18nm up the coast, 8nm offshore.The wind had increased during the morning and by the time we arrived there was a stiff breeze and considerable swell. Despite the difficulty even walking around in this swell we decided to stay there the night and while being tossed from side to side in bed discussed whether in fact sailing was for us.
Our calculations showed if we left North Solitary Island at 3am we would make the next incoming tide during daylight at Yamba / Iluka, the bar to the Clarence River. By the time 3am rolled around we were more than keen to leave.
Simon manned the helm during the night dodging rain squalls and reaching Yamba at the planned time we entered the safest NSW bar - surprisingly the roughest bar to date given the big swell. We dropped anchor at Iluka, enjoyed a fry up and went to bed for the rest of day. Upon awakening, the water was calm, the sun was out and all thoughts of chucking in the sailing life had disappeared and plans for a venture up the Clarence are taking hold.