We arrived at Lord Howe Island on Sunday night ( Feb 12th) right before sunset at 7pm after a few days cruising along in the wild blue living “life on the lean” as Andy put it, heeled over at 20 to 30 degrees and moving along at 6-7.5 knots. Thankfully, we ducked in to the lagoon when there was still light as it is not possible to get into the moorings at lord howe after dark. We dropped the sails, but had a bit of a drama with the mule sail getting unwound and wrapping around one of the back stays. This little sail used in light wind conditions and decorated with the southern cross had to be cut down at one of the ropes and quickly chucked downstairs so we could turn and get the leads in our sights so we could safely get into the channel between the outer reef. Leads are markers on the land that need to be lined up so the boat moves in the correct direction between any obstacles.
We may have tried to pick up the mooring when we were in the lagoon about 12 to 15 times as the wind was coming directly at us through a saddle in some hills at the north end of the island and funneling at us at who knows how fast maybe 30+ knots. It was frustrating to say the least, but we finally got our deck lines secured to the mooring line and was finally time for some food and sleep. We had a very rolly night with high tide causing the ocean swell to crash on the outer reef and continue over to us with lots of waves and noises keeping us awake including some kind of jingle bell in the mooring ball itself.
On monday morning we woke up and checked in with the jovial policeman, Simon and he looked over our customs documents and gave us some information about where things are and what we should do first. He seemed pretty excited as our yacht along with a catamaran were checking in that morning. Two boats at the same time! How exciting!
Although Andy visited the island a few years ago, it was great to get a little briefing from super excited Simon and then we immediately went off to rent bikes from Wilson’s. There are some cars on the island and the population is very small, but most people get along by bicycle. Cycling along the roads in the shade created by all the palm trees gave us a definite sense of being on an island along with the beautiful clear water and the soft clean sand.
After biking around for most of Monday, we went back to the yacht for low tide when the ocean swell is kept out by the reef so we could start getting some things fixed while the water was calm. I went for a snorkel around the boat and checked out the mooring chain and rope and saw quite a few fish while I was down there.
Yesterday, we went on a long and steep walk up a small mountain theb down to a beach that was strangely covered in dead birds. There were probably about 40 birds washed up on the beach. Andy’s thought was they could’ve been migrating and got tired and then washed up there with the swell..Who knows for sure, but definitely not a beach we stayed at for too long. After the beach we walked back up a million stairs and then another 500 meters of stairs to get to “Kim’s lookout”. This lookout was a great 360 degree view of the island and I definitely think all walks that long and steep should culminate in a beautiful lookout because why else would anyone want to walk uphill for that long?
After the lookout, we went to Settler’s beach and I tried to find some sea turtles. A sign near this beach suggested this was a good place to see them, but the tide working against the swell created pretty poor visibility so I got out after about 30 min.
Then we went back to the boat at low tide to repair some minor deck leaks when the boat wasn’t rolling too much and we had the best night’s sleep so far.
Overall impression: beautiful, quaint island populated by friendly locals and the tourists are 90% retirement age. I guess retired peole are the only ones who can afford a $1000 flight to get here.
Looks like wind direction will keep us here until at least Friday and then hopefully we will be starting our voyage onwards to NZ by the weekend.