Hawkesbury 2009: Dose 5: J-Bay & finale

It was Greek feast night last night so we were sleeping like Gods. It’s 3:30am. Not a creature is stirring. Suddenly out of the inky blackness…screaming, yelling! Piper races past me, “Get up dude, we’ve hit another boat!”. I’m still mostly asleep, and I stumble out onto the bow. Holy crap where are we? We’ve drifted heaps and have rammed another houseboat. The party boys on the other boat are still awake and nicely toasted. “Are we moving or are they moving?” They push us back with a mooring pole. “Where’s your lights?!” they’re yelling at us. Shit, did we forget to turn on the anchor light? No, it’s turned on. Hmm, no it isn’t. The penny drops. We’re out of power and drifting blind towards the flotilla of yachts moored 200m east of us.

Okay, don’t panic. The tide has come in and the anchor has pulled, no problem, we’ll just let more chain out. Click. Nothing. The anchor winch isn’t going to work without power. Motors on. I keep her pointed into the strong gusty breeze which has kicked up while we wait for the alternator the charge the batteries. After five minutes or so we try again. Three links of chain go down. Hmm. Time for a more aggressive approach.

Erik and Glenn start fiddling with the anchor winch. Amazingly they figure how to unweight it, unclutch it and get it in freespool. Smash! Well, we’ve just dropped ALL our chain. If that ain’t doing it nothing is. Has it caught? Are we swinging? Yes…yes…! Okay back to bed everyone, party’s over. We’ll figure out what to do in the morning. I was so blitzed on adrenaline it took me an hour to get back to sleep.

Sleeping. Gradual awareness. Please be good weather, please be good weather, please be good weather. Open eyes, squint. Sunlight. Yes! Up we get. Go outside. Man we drifted last night, how crazy was that?! Still no power, so commence the manual winching operation. Good training for Erik and Glenn. We motor back up to prime position in front of the main wall of J-Bay, scene of our climbing for the day, and drop anchor manually yet again.

We awaken to perfect weather at J-Bay © J Piper 2009

After a great bacon and eggs, cereal, milk, toast, fruit and juice breakfast on the top deck (just like Andrew Gaze taught us – remember Gazie?), it was time to start filling the chalkbags. Piper’s plastic DWS chalkbags are the bomb. And they can handle a bomb from a great height. Piper played taxi and dropped us off at the wall with a little grade 17 climb to gain a ledge.

Sam, Glenn and Sheree are in the line-up © L Cujes 2009

I headed out the obvious traverse line of Neptune 21 and slithered back down a tree. Wet Dreams 21 was next and I psyched Erik up to go for it – which he did and just barely managed to slap his way through without falling. Killer!

Erik and I scope Wet Dreams 21 © S Cujes 2009

Glenn had two shots – bombing down into the clear water both times. I never told him there was a little stingray in the landing zone. Sam did the first few moves before chickening out back to the ledge. I did Hiding Three Fingers 23 with its sinker pocket, and then scoped out a project which is essentially the direct on Neptune. The way I’d envisioned it was a huge campus move and I gave it a good lash, but fell about a foot short on latching the top hold. Not even close! Splash!

Sheree chills on the ledge © L Cujes 2009

Our airport pickup at Brooklyn was due just after lunch, so it was time to get a move on. Would have liked to stay longer and work a few more things (especially that proj) but that’ll have to wait for next time. We cruised back and rung Mark who was to pilot the boat back into the marina. I think I could have done as good a job, because he crashed it pretty solidly into another houseboat during the docking process. She’ll be right Mark!

We said our goodbyes and dropped Piper at the train station (which curiously just happened to be opposite the pub) and headed to the airport. Upon check-in I convinced everyone to come with me so we could check in together at oversize baggage. I did my best to sweet talk the girl into giving us all a sporting goods allowance and share our overall allowance. We weighed all our bags and they came to 142kg. “So sir, that’s 2kg overweight. Would you like to remove the 2kg and put it in your carry-on or pay $16?”. Yeah, I think we’ll remove the 2kg. We scrape through without paying any excess. Gold!

So now we’re home. We learnt heaps about the area. There’s projects we all want to go back for, there’s things I want to bolt, and there’s fish I want to catch. Glenn said he’d never climbed that hard for that many days and said “Fretted Pom and Sea Monsters were the best climbing experiences I have had ever”. I’d call that a win.

Well I hope you enjoyed following along on our adventures. We’re always looking for keen climbers for our upcoming trips. Check out the trips page to see what's coming up.

Until next time...