Thursday, 29 May 2014

Lollygagging around the Gippsland Lakes - Part 1

A gorgeous heron at twilight standing on the dock right outside the porthole.

The night sail from Refuge Cove to Lake's Entrance, apart from being smooth and relatively gentle, also felt huge and lonely and silent. On my watches I played music and played games and tried to take my mind off of the cloying darkness. We sailed the entire way and I was so happy about that because we didn't have diesel smell and noise for the first time in a while. Yet even without the noise and smell we slept fitfully and couldn't wait to arrive at our destination. The next thing we had to worry about was... THE BAR at the entrance!

We had heard tales about the dangers of the bar and Dave had had experiences with sand bars on the way back from Queensland when he initially picked Venture up. No one took them lightly. They sounded scary and dangerous and being the less-than-heroic person that I am, I was anxious long before we got there. Luckily they had a live video feed of the entrance, so we could see it in real time on the laptop, which was actually pretty awesome. It looked okay but we'd have to see when we got there.

Approaching the bar, there seemed to be no discernible danger with low waves and no swell, but still we advanced with caution as we knew there would be a rip or undertow. Sails down and engine on, we made sure that we had lined up the leads correctly and then made up our minds to just go. Fortunately, apart from a gentle sideways push, we had not a single problem with it, which was a huge relief. I'll be happy if they're all as easy. Because of the caution we had to take, we didn't take any photos of the bar.

Inside Cunninghame Arm

Just inside the entrance we turned right and headed up the Cunninghame Arm to the Cunninghame Marina. The piers are all colour coded within the river system, red, blue, yellow, white and. Red are private moorings generally with power and water that need to be pre-booked, blue is for 4 hours between 8am and 8pm, or overnight after 8pm (unpowered), yellow are loading zones and white are 48 hours (some powered with a small fee). By 10am we were tied up at a red berth at Lakes and putting the kettle on. Paying for just one night initially, all we wanted right then was a nice, hot shower as there'd been none at Refuge Cove. Though we were hoping it was close by, Mel, the lovely woman who ran the pier and ran Eco Tours from it with her husband, had bad news. The nearest hot showers were almost 2 kilometres away, were public and mainly used by fishermen and were 'hopefully okay because they'd been vandalised recently'. Oh.... joy. At least the way there was right along the esplanade so that was okay.

Dave figured that he should do a full engine oil change before having a shower and whilst we're hooked up to power. It's not his favourite job and for some reason this particular oil change came with difficult nuts and stubborn filters, and lots of grunts and grumbles and swearing but eventually, after several hours, he arose triumphant, grimy, oily, sweaty and more than ready for a shower. 

You see the strangest things...Dog in a doggy bag
Luckily the weather was nice, if a bit chilly, so we decided to walk it (plus I was scared to ride as my tail-bone still smarted and I was still using the blow up cushion) and have a little look about at the same time. Lakes, we discovered, is a beautiful little town with a manicured foreshore, spotlessly clean streets, smiling, friendly people and fishing boats galore, some of which sold their catches directly from their vessels. It is, in a word, quaint. The added fact that it has a McDonald's, KFC, awesome fish and chip shops and a Target, along with loads of interesting little shops within walking distance of the berth is just a bonus.

On the way to the showers we dropped into the large tourist information centre, where we were looked after by a really grumpy middle aged guy who didn't seem to want to be there. Suffice to say that, although I would have liked to buy some locally made jams or pickles, I just wanted out of there away from the grouchy man.

Finally at the public showers in the toilet block, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only had they been repaired but they were really very nice. Ah, I couldn't wait to feel that hot water. The air was quite brisk, so the warmth would be wonderful.

At the perfect temperature I stepped in and washed my hair but as I rinsed it felt as though the water was a tad cooler. Nah.... couldn't be. I'd been in less than a minute and a half. It must just be the cool air. I turned the hot water up a bit, the cold water down a bit and added conditioner to my hair as the water temperature crept slowly south despite turning the cold water down even more. No, no, no.... not already! Where I would normally keep the conditioner in for a short time, I began to scrub at my head and rapidly wash while the water became tepid then cool, then cold, then glacial. Bloody hell! I could hear Dave and asked if his was wasn't. I was not happy. We decided that, because it was a public shower and obviously had a storage hot water service rather than an instant one, the best time to come again might be in the morning.

The following day, after finding the laundrette and doing some shopping, Dave decided to move the boat from the more expensive red dock around to the free blue ones on the other side of the jetty. It was all good until we were backing out. I was pulling in ropes while Dave backed us away from the berth when I felt an almighty lurch and almost fell over as he suddenly threw the engine into forward. After my initial shock, I looked at Dave and he was uncustomarily rattled. It seems that he had inadvertently reversed into a huge separation pole that sat approximately 10' behind the boat, hitting it with the dinghy and davits. BIG OOPS! Expletives flew around like flakes in a snow storm and continued until we had properly backed out and moved around to the other side where damage could be assessed. Luckily, we could see NO damage at all, despite the thump we'd had. It took a while before Dave placated himself but it became another valuable lesson. ALWAYS look around!!

The Shell Museum - I just loved the octopus
The night view from the boat at Cunninghame Marine Pier

The Bicentennial Clock Tower
It looked to be another quiet day on the boat just doing a few bits and pieces, cleaning... the usual. The day was beautiful but we had no plans except staying aboard, but who'd have thought that the Mad Hatter would visit town? 'Not I.' said Alice! I was in the bowels of the boat and Dave was tapping away on his keyboard up in the cockpit when he alerted me to some rather unusual goings on along the esplanade. When I popped my head out I could see a procession of brightly coloured children led by gigantic butterfly-fairy thingys. I grabbed the camera and trotted up to where they were, snapping away. One of the butterfly-fairy ladies pose for photos, which was very obliging of her, before striding off and leading the procession to its destination. It was totally cute! That was the thrill of the whole day. :)

The Mad Hatter's Picnic/ Tea Party.
First sunset at Lakes.
Monday June 2nd
I know that Dave has already put up a post about going to Metung (pronounced meee-tung) so I won't linger on it and besides, there's really not a lot to say. The journey itself was quite interesting, with islands either side of us on the way and lots of shallow bits to avoid but all in all, it was pretty okay. However, when we got there it was cold, raining, miserable, the pub was empty and we had no power at the jetty so the next day we went back to Lakes. 

Heading to Metung. It was a soggy old day

Such and empty pub!!
I think we're going to need a bigger umbrella Cap'n
I think Dave's put on weight!! Metung Pub carving  :)

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