Pendana heads back to Newcastle for some R&R

Pendana heads back to Newcastle for some R&R

As you will have read in an earlier blog (, Claire and I were so impressed with Newcastle we decided to head back there and once again venture off in Pendana to explore more of the city, its waters and what it had to offer. 

Newcastle lies approx. 62 nm to our north (172klm from Sydney) which makes it an ideal run and something we can manage easily as a family. With Pendana’s engines started it was time to leave and make our way north into what can only be described as the perfect sea. Both Claire and I commented at the time on how smooth conditions were and how much we love being out to sea in calm conditions. There is little doubt that the more boating we do the more we realise the importance of getting the forecasts right as it does have a direct impact on our enjoyment factor.

Newcastle Yacht Club once again provided us with a t-end and with one of their staff (Dudley) on hand to catch the lines it wasn’t long before we were tied up, on shore power and relaxing after what was an eight hour run. Howard, who is the marina manager dropped by to say hello and is truly a nice bloke who is always too happy to help with a bit of local knowledge or in making sure our stay was comfortable and that we had all that we needed.

Pendana at newcastle
Pendana coming into berth on the end of E arm.

As I have said before, Newcastle really is a city of contradictions with one side of the harbour being a working port and the other, a city that is trying to shake its past and become a cosmopolitan town. There is no doubt that Newcastle’s history has, I believe, added to its charm of today. Very much a working class city, this is a city where folks say it as it is and don’t throw on the airs and graces for anyone. I must admit, I always find that very refreshing!

Newcastle was built on its abundance of coal which was later used to produce steel in huge steel works which were owned and operated by BHP now the world’s largest mining company due to a recent merger. Today, much of Newcastle’s past remains present in the buildings and infrastructure that scatters the town and its pièce de résistance, its port.

Port of Newcastle

One of the massive port terminals – this has to be the size of four football fields.

As the days came and went and more exploring was done we came across, on our tender, a small marina tucked well out of the way of any tourists which was somewhat depressing. This little marina had two rows of boats with hardly enough turning room for our tender let alone the craft that were tied up there. It had an eerie feel to it and two of the approx. twenty boats there had come to meet their maker and were no more. There is something very sad about seeing any vessel at the end of its life.


end of life for boat
One of two boats that were no more.


end of life for boat

Very sad, once much loved boat is no more.

Later that day and with time on our hands we decided to visit the Maritime Museum and I must say that we were all glad we did. Newcastle was (and still is) an incredibly busy port and in the mid 1800s steamships came from far and wide to collect coal, soap, copper and of course coal. It was also a port with an infamous reputation and one with a somewhat tragic past, with many ships coming to their end in the port entrance in heavy weather. One storm alone claimed as many as fourteen ships with the loss of life of most of those on board. The modern Port of Newcastle is a far cry from what it was in the mid 1800s but I can only imagine that it would have taken nerves of steel to enter the port in anything but the best of conditions. 

Today, Newcastle continues to have its share of maritime mishaps due to the strong sea conditions that form around it’s perimeter. The MV Pasha Bulker slipped its anchor and ran aground in a typical storm for this area in 2007. Thankfully she was able to be re-floated sustaining comparatively little damage.


boat crash

The MV Pasha Bulker run aground.

I might note that today (Sunday 20/04/13) there is yet another storm raging off the coast with 20ft-25ft combined sea/swell with 40kts of wind and as I look at I can see that all the container and bulk carriers (some 20 in all) waiting to enter the Port of Newcastle have moved further out to sea and re-anchored, allowing more time for the crew to take action if the same situation that occurred to the MV Pasha Bulker happened to them. Good to see lessons have been learned.

Another ship to come to a nasty end was the MV Sygna loaded with some 50,000 tonnes of coal. This Norwegian carrier had lost its anchor in 17meter/56ft seas and was tossed like a toy onto the beach. Unlike the MV Pasha Bulker the MV Sygna was not so lucky and to this day, almost forty years later, part of her still remains.


Sygna lost at sea
All that’s left today of the MV Sygna

One of the most remarkable wrecks was the Adolphe. The Adolphe was a sailing ship that was wrecked at the mouth of the Hunter River – now the Port of Newcastle entrance – in 1904. The ship is now the most prominent of several wrecks on what is now the Stockton break-wall (the entry into the port), which helps to protect Newcastle Harbour. The rescue of the ship’s crew has gone down in local maritime history as one of the most remarkable in local waters.

On 30 September 1904, the Adolphe was being towed through the entrance of Newcastle Harbour by the tugs Hero and Victoria after a 85-day voyage from Antwerp under the command of Captain Lucas. Heavy seas prevented the tugs from holding her, and after the tug hawser parted she was swept first on to the wreck of the Colonist then battered by waves that forced her on top of other submerged wrecks on what was then called the Oyster Bank. A lifeboat hurried to the scene and within two hours all 32 of the crew had been taken off and were saved.

When the northern breakwater of the entrance to the port of Newcastle was extended in 1906 it reached the remains of the Adolphe which are visisble to this day. In fact, a local told me that she is actually resting across the remains of SS Wendouree, wrecked in 1898, and SS Lindus, lost in 1899. All very sad.


Adolphe lost at sea

Remains of the Adolphe lost in 1904.

Below is a sonar image just off the entrance of the Port of Newcastle clearly showing yet another ship that has come to grief trying to navigate the ports entrance. In all, the Newcastle area is littered with some 200 wrecks in total and which due to poor visibility and strong currents in the area remain basically untouched to this day.


sonar image of vessel lost at sea

Sonar image showing the outline of a once graceful ship.

Sorry this blog has ended up a bit like an ode to shipping disasters rather than talking about the great vessel Pendana. That being said, other than a little bit of rubber coming away from the main alternator belt and ending up on the engine room floor (and we are talking about a speck not a huge chunk) Pendana ran without incident and without any issue whatsoever. Basically she didn’t miss a beat. I am, as I have said, a firm believer in preventative maintenance and as such, we have had no issue and no lost days boating due to mechanical failure which is after all how it should be.

In November this year we will take Pendana out of the water as there are a few things that are needed to be checked and a few small items requiring repair. We are planning to have the hull of Pendana re-antifouled and for this job we will be using the brilliant Seahawk antifoul product called Biocop TF ( Currently we have Seahawk CuKote on our hull and it has lasted well over three years. Seahawk bottom antifouls are truly amazing! 

While Pendana is out of the water we will also be thoroughly checking all through hulls and checking all hosing connecting to them and replacing where necessary. Needless to say the cutlass bearing will be checked and the shaft packing box re-stuffed. We will also have het seals on our Trac-Stabilzers replaced and given the once over and we will be replacing the coolant in both generators and main engine. Other than that a few small internal jobs will also be done while out of the water so that we can continue having hassle-free boating for the years ahead. I am a big believer in preventative maintenance and I guess that is driven by my own serious lack of mechanical/electrical knowledge however, I have found that being proactive works and as such, shall continue down this path.

In closing, during our time going both to Newcastle and coming home I took a number of time lapse movies these can all be found via my YouTube channel or at the addresses provided below.

Heading into the Port of Newcastle – time lapse including berthing.

Departing Port of Newcastle – time lapse including getting out of the way of tanker

Heading to our home marina – time lapse including berthing at our beautiful marina

I also took a 360 degree image of Pendana at NCYC which can be found at this link

360 degree photo of Pendana


 ….and finally, in an act of shameless self-promotion, I have finished writing a book about our first twelve months with Pendana. The book’s Foreward has been written by master mariner and general all round nice guy Mr Ken Williams ( and is jam-packed with some 150 colour photos and has over 300 pages of text in all. “From family to Crew” will be printed in full colour and is expected this ship in around 10 days. So if you want to pre-order a copy now, please go to

From Family to Crew


Safe travels


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