Lord Howe Island & Balls Pyramid
The Trip: Gold Coast - Lord Howe Island - Sydney, May 2022
The Yacht: 70' Custom steel ketch
I'm sure most of us have a bucket list destination and for me, Lord Howe Island was certainly on mine. So when I was offered the chance to join the expedition yacht SV Salt Lines as co-skipper, I jumped at the chance. Salt Lines is a very well proven steel ketch that's been just about everywhere around the globe. Onboard we had Matt who is the owner and skipper of the boat, five paying crew plus myself.
Leaving Southport, Queensland, we sailed east for 3 days to reach Lord Howe which was about 350Nm off the coast of NSW. We had a number of crew aboard who had never sailed offshore or spent a night at sea so it was a pretty special occasion for them.
Luckily we had a brilliant full moon lighting up our first two nights and pleasant sailing conditions so they thought it was Christmas. Things got a bit more challenging on Day 3 and the various sea sickness potions and remedies got a workout. Hats off to Rachel who in real life is a chef and she worked magic in the galley despite feeling quite ordinary at times.
Closing in on Lord Howe was pretty special as it's mountains loomed up ever closer on the horizon. The western side of the island offers the only real anchorages and because of the deep draft of Salt Lines, we had go to the more isolated and exposed anchorage at the southern end of the lagoon.
There were mooring buoys there but it was not a manouvre you'd take lightly. Basically the boat had to be threaded through a narrow passage in the reef with surf crashing either side. Once 'inside', there was very little room to manouvre picking up the mooring buoy. Either get it first time or run the risk of running out of room to turn around and end up on some nasty rocks. Suffice to say we got it right but there were big sighs of relief once we safely tied up.
The highlight perhaps was the local policeman/harbour master/guide parking his car on the hill above the anchorage, using his headlights to guide us through the passage!
We spent two days on the island exploring what can only be described as little bit of paradise on earth. It's a World Heritage area and it's easy to understand why. Quite pristine and 'relatively' untouched by man. There's a multitude of walks to do ranging from easy to quite challenging, including the climbing of Mount xxxx. Superb views and magnificent beaches everywhere. If you get a chance, you should make the effort to go.
One of real highlights of this voyage was the chance to sail around Ball's Pyramid. If you don't about this incredible natural phenonomon, please have a look at the photos before reading on.
Located 12Nm south of Lord Howe, Balls Pyramid is 550 metres of solid rock that rises up out of the ocean in the middle of nowhere. It's truly spectacular and when we approached it from a distance, it looked like some mystic cathedral rising up out of the ocean on the horizon.
So after our flyby, we headed west again towards Sydney and our final destination in Pittwater. We had it pretty lucky with the ride home for 2 and half days with a nice south easterly giving us a broad reach home. Things got a little messy as we neared the coast with a few squalls coming through to keep us on our toes. And as swe got near the coast, of course being Sydney weather, it started pouring rain. At least the boat got a good fresh water wash before docked.
All in all, a brilliant trip. Just not sure about those night watches anymore....
Here's some images from the trip - enjoy :-)