Our stay in Ballina was again a successful one, with 5700 people looking over the ship. Ballina itself is a town that seems to be growing fast, with the many other communities in the northern rivers area it made for a steady flow of visitors. As always it is good to be able to pull into a port where the ship hasn’t been before, for it allows for a certain level of excitement from the locals. A function was held onboard by the Ballina shire council on Friday night. This was a great opportunity for those who had helped organise our stay to get a chance to chat with the crew. No doubt many stories were told of the adventures that sailing a ship like Duyfken enables. A second function was held onboard on Sunday night. This was to thank Ramada serviced apartments, who had been most generous in donating an apartment for use during our stay. We were due to leave Ballina on Monday the 23rd, and the weather was perfect for crossing the bar. It could not have been a calmer day. However, a Dutch film company was due to come and visit the ship. So we missed high water and had to wait until the Tuesday tide. I was just hoping that the swell was going to stay small, for with the tides on neaps, our margin over the bar was reasonable small. Although the wind had increased from a south easterly direction, the swell had not built by Tuesday morning. So on Tuesday afternoon we slipped the lines and proceeded down the Richmond River towards its entrance. Quite a crowd had gathered to watch our departure, as we headed down past the coastguard tower and out over the bar. This crowd was joined by a large pod of dolphins that swam around us as we crossed over the shallow line of sand at the entrance to the river. As soon as we were clear, the lower sails were set, and then topsails. The southerly wind was a godsend for our passage north, with the crew all enjoying the feeling of being back at sea, gently sailing along in the right direction.