Reviewed Jan 2017
Unfortunately the first review of the Camden Haven Inlet is full of errors.
My home port of Camden Haven Inlet is situated one days sail north of Port Stephens and one days sail south of Coffs Harbour is a very popular stop over with cruising yachties and at times over a dozen yachts can be in the river at one time. Whether you visit the slip, anchor off Laurieton, moor at the Laurieton United Services Club [LUSC] wharf or moor at the Dunbogan Boatshed remember to sign the Visiting Yachties Book at the front desk of the Laurieton United Services Club [LUSC].
On approach to the Camden Haven Inlet you must NOT use the leads on the southern break wall as this will lead you over the shallowest roughest part of the bar. The RMS is aware the leads are incorrect but has done nothing to correct them or issue a navigation warning. They in fact date back to 1979 before the south training wall was put in. The bar should not be attempted [in or outwards] in a large easterly swell, as typically with all east coast bars in that condition it is too dangerous to cross. This happens very rarely at the Camden Haven Bar.
To correctly approach the Camden Haven Bar draw on your chart or chart plotter a line due east west from the middle of the training walls. Now approach the entrance from south of this line and join it just outside the first breaking waves or at a minimum of 100 metres out, if it’s flat, before entering along the line into the river. Be aware that the river can run up to 5 knots so it is advantageous to arrive on a flood or leave on an ebbing tide. By staying mid channel you should have no trouble with depth unless you draw more than 3 meters, then extra care and a high tide will be necessary, but only up to Dunbogan. Watch your depth sounder at the first port buoy inbound and do not move over to port until you are closer to the next starboard buoy as the reef extends upriver from the port buoy. Once past Gogleys Creek there is sufficient depth for all vessels in the channel. While the Camden Haven River entrance is the safest on the NSW coast, this author takes no responsibility for the above information and it is up to each Captain to make any decisions on how they enter the river.
The first facility upriver is the Dunbogan Boat Shed which is also a popular coffee shop. Contact the Shed on phone (02) 6559 9713. Commercial moorings are available which include the use of a shower, toilet, washing and dryer faculties. Charges for the ten moorings are; overnight $30, weekly $75, monthly $220. The seven berth charges are; overnight $35; weekly $100; monthly $270.
Please Note: No fuel is available at the Dunbogan Boat Shed.
Once past the Dunbogan Boat Shed and the next port buoy you must stay in the channel as there is extensive shallow water to your port as you travel upstream.
Your next item of interest is the Camden Haven Marine Rescue Shed [phone (02) 6559 7356 or VHF 16, operates 24/7] on your starboard side. Nearby you will notice a high public wharf which is available for drop off and pick up only. It is not suitable for use by yachts.
In the stream off Laurieton there are two public moorings [pink] and one emergency mooring [blue] which belongs to the Camden Haven Marine Rescue. If it is necessary to use the emergency mooring contact should be made with the Camden Haven Marine Rescue to arrange use. There is a 24 hour limit. From what I’ve seen it’s very flexible, just ask.
The Laurieton United Services Club [LUSC] wharf was constructed by local yachtsmen with help from the LUSC. At the moment there is a drop off zone on the wharf brought about by a commercial boat which is no longer operating [January 2017]. It is hoped to remove this restriction very soon. Behind the wharf on the boat ramp side is a dinghy wharf. Water for drinking purposes only is available on the wharf. There is no power. Obtain a key [$50 deposit, no other charge] for the showers and toilets from the LUSC front desk. Maximum stay is 5 days [or so] and if you overdo it the locals will hunt you off.
In the immediate area of the LUSC Wharf the ground holding is good, but be aware not to foul your own anchor with the change of tide. South of the moorings is the Laurieton Fish Co-op and you should be aware that the holding directly opposite is not very good and limited by the Dunbogan Bridge to the south.
At the Laurieton Fishermen’s Co-op you will find the local slip and the Co-ops pile yacht berths. Water and power is available. Phone the manager on (02) 6559 9219 for bookings. The slip will accommodate catamarans up to 8 meters in width and vessels up to 35 tonnes, maximum draft 2 meters. Cost $275 up and down including the first 24 hours, $110 per day after that, cost is for all vessels regardless of size. Water jet hire and with due notice some marine supplies [anti-fouling] are available. There is no other source of marine supplies in the Laurieton area except limited supplies at Port Macquarie 30 km to the north by road. The public wharf adjacent to the slip has the local pump out facility. Mooring here is subject to the whims of council staff but can be used for up to 24 hours before going up on the slip. Overnight is possible.
There is a local sailmaker, Rohan Nosworthy of Mid Coast Sails [email@example.com] Mobile phone 0419 211 660. Do leave a message if no reply.
In Laurieton there are several restaurants including the LUSC. Proceed up past the LUSC to Bold Street [the main street]. Straight ahead is a launderette and a motor part supplier. To your left are a couple of banks, newsagent and picture theatre. Diagonally opposite the theatre is the local museum. The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday 0900 to 1300. To your right on Bold Street there is a Mitre 10, with supplies of marine paint and stainless steel screws and bolts. Opposite is the Laurieton Hotel and Coles. Next to Coles is a petrol station for those needing fuel, bring your own containers. Local buses operate out to Dunbogan and up to Port Macquarie from a bus stop in Laurieton near Coles, ring Busways on (02) 6559 7712 for timetables.
The local yachties welcome visiting crews and regularly greet those who come ashore at the LUSC wharf or moor at Dunbogan where they have their yachts moored. They can also help facilitate minor repairs for those that may need them.