Friday, 27 June 2014

Early morning in Paynesville

A big bunch of birds went by the end of the dock this morning.  This is a short clip off the end of the video I took as they headed out into Lake King. 

I'd post a whole lot more but we're bandwidth poor :-( 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

An update from Paynesville

Venture in Paynesville. 
You can see the Motor Yacht club in the background which
houses the great facilities.  The marina was built and is managed by the
Gippslands Lakes Shire Council and they are doing a brilliant job. 
Thanks Leasa!

We managed to find a nice spot to hang in Paynesville at the Slip Bight Marina while I worked on the vulnerability assessment (VA) for CQR.  While I was doing that I also took time to work on the engine a bit more..

I did an oil change (including the oil filter) at Lakes just after we arrived.  That all seemed to go well but when we moved to Paynesville, we found that we had a major oil leak (like around 2 litres per hour).  I could see a lot of oil on the starboard side of the motor but couldn't locate the spot the oil was coming from so I got in contact with a local marine diesel mechanic (Mat Henery), recommended by another sailor here, and had him come down to take a look. He also had trouble locating the leak so we decided together that we needed to remove some bits so we could see what was happening.

So the next day, I took the exhaust manifold off and removed the oil cooler.  Sounds easy eh..  Anyway, I could see lots of oil around the oil cooler and it was starting to look like we'd found the leak.  It turns out that when I changed the oil filter in Lakes, I had damaged the oil cooler..   Also, the mechanic found a blanking plate on the motor behind the oil cooler that was loose and also weeping.

It's a design flaw IMHO.  The oil cooler sits unsupported except for some hoses above the oil filter and below the exhaust manifold.  The gap is small and the oil cooler actually rests on the oil filter.  To spin the filter off, I've always had to lever the oil cooler up a bit with a screw driver while with my other two hands, spin the filter off.  This time I'd managed to damage a brazed joint on the oil cooler with the screw driver.  

Damaged oil cooler jammed in above the filter.
You can't see the damage in this view as it's behind the cooler.

When I took the manifold off, I also found that the weld at the back had failed again and it was leaking exhaust gas into the boat.  Luckily, that break must be quite new as I've been keeping an eye on it since it failed in Pittwater last year.  I even put new batteries in the carbon monoxide detector a few months ago!

Mat took the oil cooler and manifold away to get them fixed and I carried on with the pen test.

A few days later, I had finished the VA and Mat was back with the parts.  The oil cooler had been completely rebuilt with both end caps removed, the leaks fixed and brazed back on.  The manifold also had a nice new weld with some substantial filletting this time to add some strength.

New weld on the back of the exhaust manifold. 
The fillet is a lot bigger this time so I'm hoping it will last a bit longer.

He also brought a remote oil filter kit.  This is a fitting that screws onto the housing on the engine that normally takes the oil filter with some pipes that carry the oil to a new housing attached to the starboard bulkhead instead of the motor.  So now, I can use standard Ford oil filters (a whole lot cheaper than the westerbeke ones) and I don't have to prise the oil cooler up to change the filter anymore!  Bonus!

The remote oil filter mounted on the Starboard bulkhead.
The next job was cleaning the oil out of the bilge.  Not a nice job at all.  We ended up (including the pump out, rinse and repeat cycles) giving Mat something like 20 litres of horrible brown sludgy stuff to take away and dispose of.  The bilge is now quite clean (relatively speaking) and we won't be leaving a film of oil everywhere we go!  Another bonus!

Anyhow, we put it all together yesterday and fired the motor up again.  After some hiccups with air locks in the fresh water side, it ran up to temp nicely and sounds pretty sweet with no leaks that we can see!
Repaired oil cooler in place.  You can see a piece of rubber placed between the
cooler and the oil filter housing to prevent wear on the cooler (Mat's idea)
And the filter has been replaced with the remote filter kit.

The last job was to replace the old oil soaker pillows under the motor with some new ones so we can see if it is still leaking in the future.

All in all, a most productive couple of weeks.  I can't recommend Mat (the mechanic) too highly.  He went above and beyond to help us out and really came through with the welding, the oil cooler re-build and finding the remote oil filter kit.

Mat Henery of Henerys Automotive, Truck and Marine.  Give him a ring if you're in the Gippsland Lakes area with engine trouble!

Stop press:  I just got another call from CQR and there's another little job I have to do before we can leave.  It works out pretty well though as we don't have a weather window to leave until after Tuesday next week so as long as I can finish it over the weekend, it won't hold us up at all.  In fact, we might just hire a car and check out the snow up in the mountains before we leave :-)

Terry is in the middle of a much bigger (and probably better) post about our adventures in the lakes too BTW..

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Lollygagging no more - Last days in the Gippsland Lakes

JUNE 8th..

Today was to be our last day in Lakes (for now) before we moved further along the lake system to Paynesville and so, because the weather was nice, another bike ride was on the cards, this time on the other side of town just to see what we could see. Cycling around Lakes is easy if nothing else. Flat with relatively wide roads, some bike lanes and bike/pedestrian paths it was easy to get around and by the time we got back to the boat, we'd ridden about 12 kilometres. Ah …. doesn't the distance fly when you're having fun? Yet although interesting, with a lot of little jetties and hire boats, it wasn't quite as interesting as the main drag. 

Welcome to a really beautiful part of the country.
Round round wheels goin' round round round, down up peddalin' down up down......
Hey Jason.... they say hello from Lakes
There are heaps of small hire boats on this side of town as well as foot pedal boats.
We took a little rest at the halfway mark at Lion's Park
Beach fishing along 90 mile beach.
Almost all of the bottle brush trees are of the golden variety.
Yet another of those silly pelicans.
Just some of the birds we have met around Lakes

By the time we stepped onto the boat and put the bikes away it was starting to drizzle and so, to end another energetic day, the obligatory Nana Nap came into effect.

Tomorrow we leave for Paynesville.

JUNE 9th...

The weather this time was fairly nice as we made our way further into the Lakes system past Metung and towards Paynesville. 
Past the Metung Hotel, this time in better weather.
On the way to Paynesville, everything was dull and in shadow except for this solitary little island.
The lakes are actually very expansive. We only saw such a small part of them.
Because it was in the lakes, and there were fairly shallow bits at times we motored the four hours to Paynesville, but part way through we found there was a big problem with the engine (go here for reference as Dave's already written about it... )

Dave had a week's work to do and Paynesville had good facilities without having to worry about showers that froze the wobbly and sticky out bits. They also had free washers and dryers, a kitchen with free tea and coffee, a microwave and a lounge area. Okay, I say free but it wasn't really. The berth still had to be paid for but at this stage it was worth it.

When we eventually got to Paynesville Slip Bight Marina, which is actually located on Burrabogie Island, we knew we had been relegated to Finger 5 but had no real idea where on that finger we were supposed to be so we just picked an empty berth that was absolutely covered in gigantic piles of bird muck, thus giving a subtle indication that it was likely not being used at the time, and tied up. Luckily staying at this berth was not a problem and, after we'd hosed off the bird goop, it remained our 'home base' for the next couple of weeks. 

Our noisy neighbours and poop machines.

The town itself was a couple of kilometres away and so we had to ride in each time we needed something (although Dave did make an almost daily trip to buy warm, fresh bread from the awesome bakery). We also went to town a few times via the waterways, which gave a completely different aspect of the dock areas. It was easier to do this when groceries were needed simply because we could fit more into the dinghy than onto the small bike racks.

For the next few days the weather came in very ordinary, cold, drizzly and pretty much downright icky and since Dave had work to do anyway and since we didn't have a complete engine in the boat, I spent my time doing the mundane and boring stuff like cleaning, and spent a lot of time doing pretty much not-a-lot. I was beginning to feel quite hemmed in and the chilly weather was starting to get to both of us. Mind you, it would have been a whole lot worse if we didn't have such an awesome air conditioner.

JUNE 19th

On this particularly nice day we loaded the bikes into the dinghy and puttered across the river to Raymond Island, a small conservation island that apparently has more than 200 koalas living on it. The koalas were introduced to the island in 1953 and it is considered a very safe environment for them. 

A Little History


Raymond Island was established and named after William Odell Raymond, originally a magistrate from New South Wales who established himself as a squatter in Gippsland in the 1840s The island is 6km long by 2km wide, and is just 200 metres off the coast and has a population of around 500 people. **
Seriously.... there are just SO many way to die in Victoria.
Land care and conservation is an ongoing project on Raymond Island.
Someone's train signals, but not a train in sight. :)
For the most part, we kept off of the main roads and opted for the more rural, rutted variety that makes your teeth rattle and your voice sound funny as you're riding along. We had intended riding around the entire perimeter of the small island but unfortunately our navigational skills were somewhere east of Mars that day and so we ended up going straight through the guts, and also somehow ending up riding a couple of kilometres along a no through road that was clearly marked on the street sign, but which we somehow both entirely missed. The compensation of taking the dead end though, was that we saw the only 2 koalas that we were going to see that day.

In parts, towards the centre of the island, the gums had died off. There seemed to be a big effort to stop the spread of whatever may be killing them
The rutted roads along which we rode, and jarred every bone in our bodies.
One of only 2 koalas we saw that day, but still it was worth it.
We did see a bonus kookaburra just hanging around.
Signposts. Many of them were hand written.
No Through Road.... there in red and white and yet we missed it completely. D'oh.
After cutting through the back roads, we made it back to the small town area and the ferry that shunted back and forth all day long. We hopped the Raymond Island chain ferry which, apart from boat, is the only way to access Raymond Island . We went across to Paynesville for a coffee and a bit of a sit (oh and cake... big, fat, sweet, gooey lemon meringue pie and awesome cheesecake.... droooool!) and then had to hop the ferry back again as the dinghy was still tied up on that side.
We'd ridden a long, long way overall.
Ferry between Raymond Island and Paynesville.
The flap was closed!!!! What was the emergency? Tell meeeeee!!
A poor little one legged seagull waiting for his fair share of chips.

Looking across towards the northern tip of Paynesville from Raymond Island
The view from the Raymond Island Ferry looking towards Paynesville.
Flocking birds. This was a regular thing. We think they were following schools of bait fish.

Dolphins frolicking near the ferry
JUNE 22nd >> JULY 2nd

Our meanderings on this day were a little different as we left the bikes behind, hopped the dinghy and tootled around the various waterways to take a look at how the other half lives. 

Just one of the beautiful waterways around the many islands that dot the Gippsland Lakes
One of the houses that juts out over the waterway.
How the other half live
Footbridge between islands
Well, I have to say, they live pretty darned well. We puttered up and down and around the islands looking at the oversized boats at their private jetties, marvelling at the size of some of the houses, playing chicken with swans and ducking around ducks until eventually we came to a low bridge. In fact a VERY low bridge. So low that the only way we could get beneath it was to hunker down on the floor of the dinghy. We emerged from beneath the bridge with a big 'aaaarrrrrr me hearties!!!' along with a big high 5 and a couple of funny looks from the locals.

There are swans all over the place, and they love to play chicken with the dinghy.
Low bridge coming up!!!
The view of the underside of the bridge.
The rest of our time in Paynesville was spent waiting for the engine parts to be ready, washing the brown gunk off of the sides of the hull, Dave did even more extra work that was given to him and we filled in the days as best we could. Towards our last weekend at Paynesville, we discussed either catching the bus or hiring a car and going to the snow for a day or two, but in the end that plan fell apart as Dave's work had him revising reports etc. In the end the engine was fixed and running sweet, Dave's work was done and we left once again returned to Lakes for just a couple of nights until the weather window was open. It had been a nice stay even if we didn't end up seeing even a fraction of what the Gippsland Lakes has to offer. We'll be back one day.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

It looks like we'll be in Lakes for a bit longer after all.

I got a call last night and it looks like I've got a couple of weeks work to do later this month so we'll be staying on in the lakes for another two or three weeks at least.

We're currently in the Cunninghame arm at Lakes Entrance on a pay-by-the-day berth so I'll be spending today trying to find somewhere a bit more affordable in the lakes somewhere (probably Paynesville I think).

Venture at Cunninghame Quay

It's a bugger because it's getting pretty cold and we were looking forward to warming up as we go north but such is life eh :-)

Anyone know of a short term berth we can rent for a couple of weeks in Lakes or Paynesville BTW?

And here's another test track (opens with google earth) from our trip back from Metung yesterday.  I'm using a couple of scripts to take the images from both camera's and geotag them then create the kmz file which includes the track, thumbnails and reasonably scaled images.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Lollygagging part 2

Part 2 -
TUESDAY June 3rd
Back at Lakes we berthed once again at a red dock for a day. Dave had some work coming so we figured we could afford it for a few days, then we'd turn around to the white docks instead. Because there were very few visitors at the moment, we could stay on the white docks for more than the allotted 48 hours, so that was great, and only $12 a day with power. Again, not a lot was doing. The following day the weather had brightened so we figured it was a good time to turn the boat around just using ropes and tie her up to the white dock, which was only about 30' away. As luck would have it, three guys who were on the dock at the time (two from another vessel that was tied up there) helped out and it was poetry in motion to see Venture gently pulled out from the red berths and swung about to face the other way and then have her pulled up alongside the high, white docks right below a ladder and the power outlet. Awesome!
The Cunninghame Arm entrance not far from the bar entrance to the entire Gippsland Lakes system
In the afternoon, we again were doing our normal nothingness and minding our own business when we heard large engines close by. Another huge petrol guzzling, super polluting, over the top penis boat (oops, sorry, a little PI there... let's say gigantic leisure boat) was heading in to the berths. This was nothing unusual as large leisure boats seemed to be a fairly regular visitation to the docks. Dave, being the nice guy that he is, headed onto our deck and was about to ask if they needed a hand when I heard a yell and BANG! I was in the V berth and felt Venture shudder and rock and dashed up top to see what had happened. The rich dick had not allowed for the wind and drifted straight into our bow. I was angry and Dave was anxious and ran over and asked if I thought he had hit us. A resounding YES was my answer. I became even more angry when I noticed the driver's girlfriend/wife, who was idly standing on the berth, appearing to completely disregard what had just happened. Some people are just so rude, words fail me. In a way though, I wish he had hit us harder. His hull would have torn like tissue paper as our bowsprit crunched into it. Luckily there was no damage to either vessel but I hope it taught him a lesson. Idiot.

It was a little drizzly and chilly so we slothed about on the boat and spent the morning ringing caravan parks, trying to find better shower facilities. We'd tried the public shower again and realised that it was just too bloody cold. So, ringing around the traps we found that some had no separate shower blocks, just en-suites in their cabins. Others were just rude and basically said a flat out 'no', even though we had offered to pay. We almost gave up when it was decided that we'd go to the indoor swimming pool and have a swim at the same time. We'd rung them several days before but it was a few kilometres away and I was still a little precious about the whole bum bone, pain, ouchie thing but I really wanted a HOT shower. Okay, decision made. Aquadome, here we come!
The swimming pool was great. Heated, indoors, uncrowded. Ahhhhh. Dave did get told off though by a very stern female life guard, for diving in (because we both wear glasses, and of course were not wearing them, we both missed the large 'No Diving' sign at the end of the big pool). A good hour and a half was spent swimming about and then a wonderful hot shower afterwards. It certainly warmed the cockles. We rode back to the boat as dusk was approaching. It had been a really nice afternoon.

The following day however, I realised I had done a very bad thing when I found that I couldn't lift either arm. I had swum a lot of laps but it was something I hadn't done for years and so my shoulders decided to show me that it was too much, too soon and collaborated in showing their objection by both freezing up at the same time. The swine! It took a good couple of hours of manipulation and coercion to get movement into them again. I hate my joints!

To forget the pain I was in and because the weather was not too bad, we chose to ride the bikes across the large footbridge to the walking/cycle paths on the other side of the river and follow the path to the bar entrance. It was an easy 1 and a half kilometres ride to the bridge and because it was a Friday there didn't seem to be too many people about until we reached the other side where a rowdy gaggle of primary school kids cackled and jostled outside the large kiosk whilst their teachers tried to keep order. Rather than get caught up with them we headed down to the beach and looked around at... the beach, albeit a very long beach... 90 miles to be exact, hence the name 90 Mile Beach.

The footbridge to the Cunninghame Arm Spit looking back towards Lakes
A chilly wind blows at 90 Mile Beach. Dave taking photos of the life guard tower
Life guard tower at 90 Mile Beach

Just one of the many swans hanging around the kiosk waiting for a feed.
Okay, not much to see here so we took we took a look at the trail that led to the bar. It seemed to be all sand so we locked the bikes up outside of the kiosk and walked. However, after about 500metres the sand turned to solid dirt so we turned around and got the bikes. The man who ran the kiosk simply smiled when we said we'd changed our mind and would ride the trail. We found out why. 
Hard going.... from this..... this.... and back again and again for 2.5 kilometres
The bikes were exhausted so we gave them a rest with a view.
Yes, the path was sand, then solid, leafy dirt, and then it became sand again, with steps thrown in occasionally for good measure before becoming solid again. It became hard going and I could imagine the kiosk owner laughing his socks off. Eventually we came to another sandy spot so Dave went on a reconnaissance mission and reported back that the news wasn't good. It was a long sandy path. Impossible for the treadlies so we abandoned the idea of riding and locked the bikes up at a small lookout. 
Aaaaaand... off we go again, this time on foot. It was actually a lovely trek right down the centre of the spit, made just a little difficult at times and the path seemed to constantly change every few hundred metres from a long sandy stretch that needed to be trudged along to a long compacted dirt stretch that was a gentle stroll, with a boardwalk thrown in every now and then for good measure. At times it felt as though we were a hundred miles from civilisation even though the whole walk was only around 2.5 kilometres each way. It was quiet and peaceful and really quite interesting. 

There was some really beautiful lichens and mosses along the paths.
Native loquats?
Fairies would feel right at home.
I won't waffle on about what we did, but rather will post some nice photos and a little history along the way.
Old flagstaff which is still used as a navigation aid to the entrance.
The original shipwreck bell which is still in use today
These are the leads that must be lined up for safe passage over the bar
A boat safely coming through the bar at slack tide although there was a fast rip.
Difficult to see but there are opposing currents meeting each other as the tide flowed out
Swim here? No way!

At the bar entrance reading about 'The Long, Long Walk.'
The Long, Long Walk... read below as this is difficult to see.
  **! HISTORY LESSON......

During February of 1797, the vessel ‘Sydney Cove’ was wrecked at the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait. On 27 February, seventeen of the survivors set off in the ship’s longboat towards Sydney for help. The longboat was washed ashore near here, and the group, headed by the supercargo William Clarke and the first mate Hugh Thompson was forced to walk north along the coast towards Sydney.
The party of 17 set out on March 15, and after a walk of almost two months during which period many died from exhaustion and starvation reached Wattamolla near Sydney on 15 May 1797. Of this group, only three survived the journey.
This remarkable walk was the first known European exploration of the south eastern coast of Australia and marked the first contact between Aboriginals and Europeans in this area. In 1997 this journey was re-enacted by the Scout Associations of Victoria and New South Wales, following the original diary and dates of the event. Artefacts from the wreck of the ‘Sydney Cove’ were carried on this journey and placed with the remains of the Captain, Guy Hamilton, in Sydney. **

Lady Harriet's Barge


The 'Lady Harriet' was one of the early steamers on the Gippsland Lakes. She towed barges carrying an assortment of goods up the Tambo River. Her principal barge fell into disuse and lay rotting in the mud off Bullock Island until 1995 when the owners of the barge donated her to the Historical Society. The barge has been partially restored and is now on permanent display at the New Works site.**

Some of the artefacts that are part of New Works Village.
More artefacts. Sadly many of them are rusting away to nothing.
 On the way back we took a different route along the river side of the inlet where there was still a long sandy beach and along which the restored historic houses stand. At times it was difficult going as the shrubs and bushes and trees grew right out to the water's edge and if dry feet were desirable, then wrestling through branches was the only way to go. I managed to come back with only a few twigs and leaves in my hair. 

Some of the original cottages (though some have been radically updated over the years)
More cottages.... there are perhaps 15 - 20 cottages along the lake shore.
A lonely swing. No longer used


The New Works cottages are surviving links with the construction of the Entrance. Built to house the construction workers and fishermen, this little township in the dunes was for a short time named after the first contractor, John Carpenter. On licence from the Crown, the cottages have for many years been restricted to same family ownership, and have been passed down through the generations. This significant social history is documented in the Society's publication Carpentertown: "The New Works Cottages at Lakes Entrance". Unfortunately, several of the buildings have been demolished. The sites of the harbour master and engineer's residences are now only barren areas scattered with rubble, empty reminders of more industrious times.**

The intrepid explorer!
To each his own... pole that is.
Looking across the Cunninghame arm towards Venture.... that's her mast
We continued along the beach until we figured we were somewhere near where we'd left the bikes, then Dave went bush and I stayed on the flat beach because those ever sneaky knee goblins had awoken and were trying to grind my knees to a halt. Some imps had even taken up residence in my ankles but they'd have to bugger off because soon I'd be on the bike again and it was like my anti gremlin shield where nothing hurt apart from my butt, but that's due to a hard bike seat and a cocked up coccyx not butt pucks. 
We eventually found our bikes and had to wheel them back along the sandy path to the kiosk and then ride the 1.5 kilometres back to the boat. Seriously, if this stuff isn't making me fit, I don't know what will!