Newcastle, despite the loss of the State Dockyard and the BHP steelworks, continues to be a busy port. Many people will have seen historic photos of a forest of masts and spars as scores of sailing vessels were berthed 2 and 3 abreast waiting for their turn under the coal tips, coal being exported all over the world out of Newcastle. That scene has given way to the 15 bulk carriers that we passed at anchor off the port waiting for the Dyke or Kooragang coal loaders. I remember being aboard the BHP bulk carrier "Iron Newcastle" some years back when we lifted what was then a record cargo of coal for the port from the Kooragang loader. I forget the exact tonnage , but somwhere in the vicinity of 140000 tonnes. Another of my old ships, "Iron Carpentaria" also arrived today, heading up to a berth at Kooragang Island. To help handle these ships, there are a number of big tugs here, all very modern and fitted with azimuth drives to give them exceptional power and manoeuvrability. They are quite remarkable vessels, with equal performance ahead or astern, I have even seen them show off a bit and steam sideways. A sizeable fishing fleet works out of Newcastle, small prawn trawlers in the harbour and bigger deep sea vessels ranging offshore. Many of them are berthed near to where we are currently tied up. Across from us is the big Forgacs floating dock, able to take quite sizeable ships for maintenance and repair. At the moment the RAN supply ship HMAS Westralia is up in the dock for a refit, more RAN vessels a little further down with what looks like 2 of the new minehunters, not sure of their names although HMAS Hawkesbury may be one. Berthed astern of us is another big warship that I did not recognize when we arrived here. It turns out to be an ex US guided missile cruiser that has been paid off and stripped down. It was towed here from Honolulu a few weeks back and is planned to be sunk a few hundred miles of the coast during joint RAN/USN exercises. Sad in a way to see a ship just sitting there waiting for her death. I spoke the other briefly of the "William the Fourth", whose berth we are using at the moment. Always interesting to see another replica, in this case from an era some hundreds of years after Duyfken. She is a replica of Australias first coastal steamer, a little sidewheel paddle steamer also rigged as a 2 masted topsail schooner. The original ship was built in 1831 at Clarencetown and traded on the east coast for 30 years before heading up to Hong Kong and being put in the Chinese river trade. This replica was built in 1987 at Raymond Terrace and is operated entirely by volunteer crew, mainly doing cruises on the river but occasionally voyaging to Sydney or Port Maquarie. They have helped us with the berth, use of their office and workshop and even with some yellow paint when we were running short. If anyone is in Newcastle, go and have a look at her, do a cruise and help them to keep running as well, if all of us historic ships and replicas help each other then all will benefit. Of course there is the usual small vessels around the place, pilot boats, lines launches (that help the bigger ships run their mooring lines) and a wide range of private craft, both power and sail. The Stockton ferry, like a small version of a Sydney Harbour First Fleet class catamaran, riuns back and forth through the day between Stockton and the City, across the famous Horseshoe bend in the river. A strange day for weather, beginning with high cloud and light airs, heating up to a hot steamy day and then sea mist rolling in with the easterly breeze later in the afternoon. Throughout, Andrea keeps the crew at the paintwork, smartening the ship up for our arrival into Sydney on the weekend.