Strong and relentless – that’s how most marine-tourism operators have described the nor-east winds along the coast this holiday season.
Ron Hunter, who has been running dive boats for more than 30 years out of his Forster-based business, Dive Forster, believes the winds have been unprecedented.
"It’s just been 24 hour nor-easters, seven days a week,” he said.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of fishermen and they’ve never seen anything like it.”
Mr Hunter said the dive charter business has always been a weather-dependent game, but that this season has been particularly difficult.
“We’ve had an unlucky two months,” he admitted.
“We’ve rarely got out to sea. It’s just been too rough.”
It’s a position shared by Phil Gonagle of Forster fishing charter business, Reel Ocean Adventures, who said the blustery conditions have hit his business hard.
“It’s been shocking,” he said.
“We were booked out almost every day of the holidays but were only able to get nine trips in.”
Mr Gonagle said that not only have the strong winds negatively impacted the area’s charter boat industry at their busiest time of year, it’s also significantly effected ocean conditions at large.
“The nor-easters stir up cold water and dirt and muck off the bottom,” he said.
“The fish hate it. We haven’t seen dolphin fish like we did last year – we haven’t seen a lot of species.”
Closer to shore, the nor-easters have also brought in some of the ocean’s less popular marine life.
“There was a week and a half or two weeks there where there were a lot of bluebottles,” President of Forster Surf Life Saving Club, John Quinn, said.
Mr Quinn said the consistently rough conditions had also changed the bottom contours at Main Beach, with a number of rips forming at what is ordinarily a safe and stable stretch.
Further down the coast, surf school operator Gary Hughes of Surface Surf School said that while the winds haven’t impacted on his ability to conduct lessons around the Pacific Palms area, it’s been a strange couple of months.
“I’ve never seen it so relentless,” he said.
“Usually you get a southerly change come through, but we haven’t had those.”
Mr Hughes said that he’s been forced to wear a steamer (full suit) almost all summer due to the cold water and that from a surfer’s perspective, it’s been a pretty lacklustre season for waves.
We need a good south-east weather system to break up the effects of all these nor-easters.Phil Gonagle
Interestingly, a spokesperson from meteorology site Weatherzone said that average wind speeds of a morning around Forster for the month of January haven’t been any stronger than the average for previous years, and only slightly above average in the afternoon.
He did point out that the winds have been predominantly from the north-east, however.
“Winds were largely from the NNE/NE, in part due to high pressure being sat over the Tasman for much of the month,” he said.
“This high pressure also acted to block any frontal systems, keeping them much further to the south.”
To local business operators like Mr Hunter and Mr Gonagle, this information brings little consolation.
Both men said they’ve just got to move forward, take comfort in the fact they acted in the best interest of their customers, and hope for a better season next year.
“You roll with the punches but you hope they don’t keep throwing them,’ joked Mr Howard.