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 [firstname.lastname@example.org] 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.
If you can get in, Camden Haven is the best anchorage on the NSW Coast
Reviewed Jan 2017
In Feb 2016, we hid in Camden Haven whilst ex TC Winston whipped up the Coral Sea. We were there for 8 days, as we were north bound - and restricted by headwinds, when the ex TC wasn't lingering about.
We laid alongside the LUSC wharf. Good, inexpensive food and entertainment in the LUSC. Good coffee shops on the main street. Supermarkets, gas and fuel nearby. Great morning walk up to the top of North Brother, for stunning views.
Even joined the local library (modest fee) to borrow some DVDs / read the newspapers etc.
The LUSC became the centre of our social life. Played snooker, had access to their wi-fi.
Delightful are deco cinema, just up from the LUSC wharf.
Didn't use the water at the wharf - it seemed to have an 'unusual' taste / smell when we were there.
Not sure what it would be like in a massive flood.
Its a fantastic spot.
Would rate it 6+ stars if this rating was available!
Some senior citizens on their go-go mobiles - watch out!!
First in here in 85 while I was on the slip , been in a dozen times since, including this year, united services club is brilliant, wind against tide in river would be more bearable if rms swapped to the new soft mooring bouys, I'd say it is on a par with the very best spots on the coast!
The old plaza theatre is a real gem
Rms could lay more free moorings
Terrific place to stay between Coffs and Port Stephens.
Reviewed Dec 2017
I stopped in at Laurieton on a winter 2017 delivery trip. The entrance can be tricky if the conditions are not good, same as pretty much all bar entrances on the NSW coast. If the swells are safe and the tide is close to full high tide it can be a very easy entrance. A big Easterly can get the swells up though, and the tide in full flood is very fast in the entrance.
There are lots of good points when you get in. The fisho Co-op has a great cafe. I got some very fresh uncooked fish fillets there for my first meal there, along with a salad. Superb. Fuel is available from the Co-op wharf. Two pink mooring buoys are in the river opposite the Services Club wharf for short stays and if you can get onto the wharf there it's the best place to stay, in my opinion. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get onto the wharf, but it's a short dinghy ride from the moorings, and the wharf is a good spot to tie a tender to. There is water available there, and a fish cleaning station, so if you get friendly with the local fishers you might, like me, get a free fillet of Tailor, which is a great eating fish when fresh.
Laurieton has every convenience. The Services Club allows free access to the yachty's shower and toilet so long as you put down a refundable key deposit. The Camden Haven Steel Fabricator is excellent and not expensive, and a brisk walk for a fit sailor. The guys at the hardware store were vey helpful indeed for me with advice and gear. I can't speak highly enough of the locals.
All the conveniences
Very friendly place
The bar entrance can be dangerous if the conditions are poor
Good anchorage in the Charm Haven River
Reviewed Jan 2017
The approach yo the Charm Haven river is via the leads situated back from the entrance on the southern break wall. The river has navigation markers and particular attention needs to be had as there are numerous shallow areas within the river. My favourite spot to try for is the jetty at Laurieton which is owned and maintained by The Laurieton RSL. The jetty is used by a small ferry service but there is roo for two 38' yachts. There is water on the jetty but not to be used for washdowns etc. A $50 returnable deposit will get you a key access to the shower and toilet area specifically for yachties st the RSL. Maximum stay on the jetty is 5 days.
If the jetty is not available then there are two public moorings and an emergency mooring. The holding in the river is good and plenty of room for catamarans as well. It is an easy walk into Laurieton which has a launderette, hotels, a Coles supermarket, hardware stores
Armstrong Oysters are an easy stroll away. Yum.
Convenience of facilities and good anchoring.