Friday, 2 May 2014

Our remaining time in Port Phillip Bay.... trying to catch up

FRIDAY May 2nd – THURSDAY 8th – 2014 - GEELONG

We stuck around Geelong for a few days while we waited for the new heat exchanger for the engine to arrive in the mail. The weather was really miserable and so the sightseeing I was really hoping to do never eventuated, so here are some of the photos I took in Geelong before my bike went kaput. Oh, maybe I didn't mention that earlier. My bike went kaput!!

Coolest Kombi Ute!!
There are almost 100 of these. I wish I'd taken more photos before my bike broke
A colourful Geelong welcome.

 When we were in Geelong just prior to going back to Adelaide, we had completed the post office runs a few days prior and were then just enjoying our time doing the whole bike riding/sightseeing/touristy thing. You know the thing... oooh ahhhh snappity snap. We had been cycling down the very interesting foreshore, with the intention of going to the Cunningham Pier on the way back, when suddenly I was peddling like a sprint racer and not actually moving, much to the mirth of a couple of bystanders. The more I pedalled the less I moved and it turned out that I only had one semi-working gear out of a possible 3 and nothing else and so the judgement was made to go back to the boat and see if it could be fixed. Alas, it was beyond even Dave's capabilities and so he took the geared wheel to a cycle shop for possible repairs or replacement. Uh... yeah. Cost to replace the wheel...$250! Thanks but no thanks! The old bike had done its job and was now going to be permanently retired due to a bad case of chronic rust and being totally buggered. In Adelaide I bought a brand new 20”, 7 speed Dahon (same brand as the old one) folding bike for $350. No brainer.

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A party atmosphere for March in March

Geelong's very colourful Mayor, Darryn Lyons, being interviewed

Tourist chopper that flew over the boat a dozen times a day.
So anyway, when we came back with the new bike we didn't see anywhere near as much of Geelong as I'd hoped and the time had come where we had to move on. I had an art class coming up in Docklands on May 17th so we made the decision to move to Limeburner's again, which was a little closer. 


The trip to Limeburner's was uneventful and we were now fairly at ease with going through the shallow approach into the lagoon. Due to the weather, we pretty much stayed on the boat for the first couple of days but then the time had come, with a sunny break, to take all of the diesel containers and two empty gas bottles to be refilled. Normally this wouldn't be too difficult but on the bikes, and with the nearest petrol station being a couple of kilometres away, it would be interesting. We took the bikes ashore along with four 20 litre diesel cans and a large and small gas bottle and pondered the best way to do this. As it is, we didn't have to worry because one of the club members, Vivian and his lovely wife, immediately offered the use of their car. We couldn't have been more grateful. This lovely offer saved us so much work and time and considerable effort. I may have mentioned it before but it's worth mentioning again....the people in the Limeburner's Lagoon Boat Club are the absolute salt-of-the-earth. 

Getting ready for warmer weather.

TUESDAY May 13th

It's amazing how one small event, like hitting a bump in the road, can change one's outlook and seating position. We had taken a ride to the shopping centre about 3km away to stock up and collect some mail. On the way back it was smooth going until suddenly a bloody great hole jumped out in front of me and before I knew what was happening, my rear wheel hit it, jarring the seat and forcing it into my tail-bone where, in one agonising moment, I felt a crack. FFFUUUUUU......Ouchies! Now I know that in these situations swearing doesn't really help but right at that moment a few choice expletives came flying from my grimacing lips as the pain radiated to my brain and made it fizz. Poor Dave didn't know what to do to help.

I gingerly rode the rest of the way back to the boat club with my butt lifted off the seat, We went back to the boat where I found that even sitting on a cushion didn't help the pain. Luckily lying down did, so sleeping wasn't an issue. The next day Dave, bless his cotton jocks, rode back to the shopping centre and bought me a rubber, blow up ring cushion and some lovely strong (well as strong as he could get without a prescription) painkillers. It's been a most wonderful investment!

THURSDAY 15th May – 2014 – ST HELENS

We waved a temporary farewell to the LLBC as we made our way to St Helens, a small docking point on our way back to Docklands. We weren't at all familiar with St Helens but thought we were clever enough to figure out where we had to go. Turns out we weren't s we tried to pull in to a dock that had no stanchions to tie up to. Uh...hmmm. That can't be right. We slowly circled around and around while we desperately looked at charts and books. I was, as usual, beginning to lose my cool because just once I wanted to land somewhere and have everything just go right (it doesn't happen a lot). Further north there seemed a likely spot that may be the correct landing point and so we turned towards it and slowly made our approach. After much negotiating and decision making, the call was made to tie up to a floating dock, which would be fine except that I knew I'd have to jump off, which meant pain in the bum-bone region, which made me reluctant to jump. I hate having to make choices that mean it's going to hurt but choose I did and yep... ayeeeee! Luckily the pain only lasted a short time and I was able to choke down a desire to kick something.

We took a little wander to check out the all important bathroom facilities before it got dark, chatted to a few fisher-folk, had dinner. Dave had a chat with a top bloke named Shane, who was launching his trailer sailer in readiness for a trip around the bay.

Later, Dave and I watched telly and retired to bed.... but not for long (cue creepy music). I lay awake for a while, unable to entirely relax, when I suddenly heard noises on the deck, skittering noises. At first I tried to fool my brain into believing it was just a seagull but my smart-arse brain knew better. “Rat” it whispered at me. “Noooooo” the ever hopeful sensible part of the brain cried back. I listened again and I knew that the smart-arse was right, especially when I heard loud chewing-on-plastic noises coming from the cockpit. The Lock'n'Lock biscuit barrel! Noooooo!

Dave, in the meantime had heard nothing and when I sat up and told him what I thought it was, he didn't really believe me so I went to investigate while he went back to sleep. Creeping slowly towards the open main hatch (we never put the hatch covers over at night) I spied the little sod sitting there bold as brass in the back of the cockpit. I banged on the hatch step and it took off under the cockpit clears and onto the deck where I lost track of it in the dark. I sat in the gloom of the cockpit for over half an hour waiting to see if it would come back again when, from the corner of my eye, I saw movement on the dock and watched as a rat slunk off up the walkway to the main path above the dock. Good riddance I thought as I retrieved the slightly chewed biscuit tin and, for the first time, put the hatch covers in. I went back to bed in the vain hope that the curious rat was a once of thing, but no.... it came back later on and Dave finally conceded that I hadn't been imagining things because he heard it too. This time however, I knew that there was nothing it could get into. Everything was secure, there was no lure of food about and so there was nothing I could do but try to sleep. It didn't make a difference though. I dozed fitfully until dawn, listening to it skittering and creeping and then cursing the rat for keeping my smart-arse brain alert all night. I couldn't wait to leave and get to Docklands where I could catch up on some kip.

The dawn on our way to Melbourne from St Helens.


We expected our arrival at Docklands to go without a hitch. We had been sent the dock plan, knew where we were supposed to be and set up the fenders and ropes on the port side in anticipation. This was going to be easy peasy. As we approached however, I could see something was amiss. Another boat was in the pen where we were supposed to be. Oh seriously, you HAVE to be kidding!

We puddled about, trying to figure out what to do and eventually turned around and tied up at the dock we had tied to on our previous sojourn to Docklands. Dave rang the marina office to complain only to be told that an email had been sent with a change of plans and docking arrangements. Dave mentioned to them that no such email had been received and that we had already landed and weren't moving. Lo and behold, ten minutes AFTER we had tied up, the email came through. It seems that someone must have forgotten to actually send it. Luckily none of the docks were busy at that time so we were able to stay put. By then we didn't care and simply gathered up our washing and toiletries and went to the marina lounge to do the laundry, have showers and relax for a while before I did a final check of arrangements for my drawing tutelage tomorrow morning.


At 9.45, and loaded up to the armpits with my art gear, Dave and I meandered over to the Foodcourt Art Space, which was literally a two minute walk away and situated directly below the marine lounge. The day looked set to be an absolute cracker.

I was to meet Nico, the lovely girl who not only ran the space, but also a small coffee cart within, at 9.50 but when I got there it was still closed. We sat outside to wait and one by one my students showed up, which was a nice way to get to meet them before the workshop began. At some minutes after 10, Nico sped towards us across the plaza on her bicycle, full of apologies and saying that she hoped I got her text. Text? I checked my phone and sure enough, there was a text telling me she was running a bit late. I have no idea why I ever turn my volume down.... it gets me into so much trouble.

The class itself went brilliantly, with 5 super enthusiastic and attentive people eager to learn my techniques. No one wanted to break for lunch so, whilst I was doing my thing, dear Dave went shopping and then went upstairs to prepare a big platter of cheeses, chopped vegetables, cold meats and dips, and brought it all downstairs along with crackers, garlic bread, orange juice, paper plates, plastic cups and napkins. What a wonderguy!

There was only one small problem that occurred after I had had to walk back to the boat for some bits and pieces... I had a major attack of the Oh-My-God-Why-Is-It-So-Friggin'-Hot?'s. It seems that a combination of massive hot flush (alas yes, I'm that senior-ish) and just being hot had grabbed me and was now squeezing all of the moisture out of me through my head, causing me to unintentionally watermark everyone's work as I wandered around. The dewy beads rolled down my face and occasionally dripped off of my hair like rain from a leaf during a storm. Luckily it was only my face but it was awful. I went and stood outside for five minutes and allowed the cool breeze to do its job but bleuuurgh, it was atrocious, especially considering that it was the first time in I-can't-remember-when that I'd worn a touch of makeup. Luckily it finally passed and I could wander the room, leaning over the artworks without sharing droplets of my DNA.

By the time 5pm came around, I had 5 terrific, happy and talented people heading off home, 3 of them to Warrnambool, 3 hours away! It was a really lovely day. For me, it was also a painful one as I couldn't sit down properly for the 7 hours the class went for. I was in my favourite comfy boots which, I have discovered, are not comfy at all after all that time. I'm not sure which hurt worse, my coccyx or my feet but really, it was totally worth it. My only regret is that I didn't take any photos. A huge oversight on my part. I can't wait to hopefully do another class in Sydney.

SUNDAY 18th MAY – 2014

We were planning on heading back to Limeburner's but had a change of mind after I mentioned that, after changing to winter sheets on the bed, the other ones needed washing, so one more night in Docklands was arranged. It actually turned into a pleasant day during which we visited two other boats and socialised with the denizens, two of whom we already knew from Limeburner's (and, as it turned out, were the ones in our spot at the dock).

The first boat we visited was one owned by Peter, a man we met in the marine lounge. He had a Fastback 43' catamaran and was actually heading back to the boat club that's right next door to the Garden Island Yacht Club, our home base. He had bought the cat' with the plan to fix it up and use it to help returned servicemen from Afghanistan find a way, via sailing, to overcome some of the stresses they had been through. He was a brilliantly insightful, interesting and thoughtful man and I wish him every success and happiness. There should be more like him.

As we stood in the cockpit of Peter's catamaran, the Limeburner's couple (I WILL remember their names!!) stopped and chatted and invited us to their boat which was moored a couple of spaces down. Gad! Are we popular or what?! Sitting in their spacious salon, we chatted and polished off a nice bottle of red and chatted some more until it became obvious that sunset was nearing and if I drank any more I may just fall in the water on the way back to Venture. It had been a great weekend but time was moving on.


Dwarfed by a container ship going past us through Williamstown Harbour on its way to Melbourne.
Over the past days, Dave had arranged with Shane (from St Helens) to catch up along the way back to Limeburner's Lagoon as Shane was going to be kind enough to take photos of Venture under sail, something we didn't have yet. We caught up with him at Williamstown where he fell in behind us, at least until the water police drew alongside him and pulled him over (well as best as someone can be pulled over in water) . We watched and wondered what was going on. After a few minutes they left Shane and headed after us. Oh no! Da fuzz!! You'll never catch me alive copper!! Quick, throw all the contraband overboard! Actually all they wanted was to make sure we had a licensed skipper and that the Epirb in the ditch bag was in date but it was still a little exciting. 
Shane pulled over by the Police.
Shane getting out of the way of an oncoming freight ship
Shane : A very confident sailor.

Our turn : A-OK with the water police.

Venture in almost full sail in the early morning light

Another shot of Venture in full sail.

And yet another front on. She needs a bit of a clean.

After that we played photo tag with Shane until we reached Limeburner's Lagoon. Shane followed us in and rafted up to us so that he and Dave could exchange their photos but as time went by it was decided that he'd stay for dinner, especially since he had a whole casserole dish full of curry that just needed rice to make it perfect... rice that I could make. Between us it was a great meal, complete with Naan bread, loads of conversation and just a touch of the old boozy stuff.

It turned out that Shane was leading the life we will aspire to after our sea journey comes to an end. Living off the grid on several acres of land, he and his wife grew organic tomatoes and lived in a home and lifestyle they built themselves. Just idyllic.

The photos were excellent and it wasn't the last we saw of Shane. He rang the following morning asking if Dave could meet him at the club and get another copy of some of the photos as he had misplaced them. Dave went ashore and found Shane and his wife waiting for him with a box of their absolutely delicious tomatoes. I'd forgotten how different fresh ones tasted and I wish I'd been able to thank them in person. Again, we have been so lucky to meet the most wonderful people.

Our last sunrise photo at Limeburner's Lagoon. We'll miss you guys.

Location: Victoria, Australia
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