|The Blue Drifter with a pinch of sky...|
|Just a small section of the Gippsland Lakes|
|Amazing aeronautical feat me thinks!|
In the last post I had mentioned our stopover in Refuge cove. I was thinking to myself what an apt name as it is a true refuge from the ravages of Bass Strait. I had been concerned about how rough the seas of the Strait would be as I am, as most of you are probably aware, a fair weather sailor and take to my bunk feeling green around the gills when the boat starts rolling. All that water funneling through a fairly narrow, relatively shallow Bass Strait gap, in the overall scheme of the big southern ocean quite often means a confused sea. But this, I am pleased to say, has been my best Bass Strait crossing yet.
|A few of these public jetties would suit American River!!|
|Chinamans Creek near Metung|
A few days spent around the Lakes was really enjoyable. Jim and Peter, our cruising friends, who are well experienced local sailors, had pointed us in the right direction and after being thoroughly spoiled by them we headed over to Ocean Grange where we tied up to one of the many the public jetties. Had a great chat to a recently married American gentleman living in the beautifully located Grange overlooking the Ocean. Next day we sailed to the small town of Metung and discovered the quiet backwaters of Chinamans Creek where we tied up to another handy public jetty and spent a lazy few hours. The following morning we motored to Lakes Entrance, quite a busy one street town with a great selection of Op shops.
Dawn on Friday saw us with a light wind in a confused sea waiting for the expected change in wind direction and a trough to pass through. Thankfully, as the wind gradually built up from the south west the SE swell was knocked down and we had an excellent sail. Ants and Greg saw a Humpback Whale fully breach...an amazing sight. Once we had gone past Gabo Island and rounded the corner into New South Wales the winds eased to a light westerly. This sail included a 24 hour run of 155nms which for coastal sailing is a record for Ants. "Breakfree" does like a good wind on or aft of the beam.
|The lookout for Narooma bar|
On Saturday we made the decision to make port at Narooma as the Adelaide Crows were playing Hawthorn in the AFL prelim. final and we couldn't concentrate on sailing in those conditions. Unfortunately for all on board we lost....but they put up an admirable fight and it was a close match....next year.
|One of the locals!|
|Greg enjoying Breakfree's outdoor shower|
Narooma is a pretty little seaside town on a hill by a bend in the river (sounds like a song?). There is a great fish co-op by the bridge where we treated ourselves to flake & mullet fillets. Greg braved the elements by having an outdoor cold shower down by the beach. Ants went for a cool swim off the back of the boat. We were there on Market day and had great fun rummaging the stalls for fishing lures etc. I got some "happy pants" light weight cotton, quite colourful, trousers which, I think, will be ideal for the Marshall Islands....even though they look a little like pyjamas!
Leaving Narooma we crossed the bar and motored in a sloppy confused sea for the cold front to arrive. We could see the clouds approaching from the south and finally the southerly buster arrived with gusto at 35 knots. For a few hours we were sailing with only the small staysail at 7 plus knots and a maximum of 9 knots! After 30 hours and 160nm we sailed in past Sydney Heads at 22.00hrs. Greg was particularly impressed with the vista of the lights of Sydney. We anchored quite comfortably on the southern side of the harbour in Rose Bay.
Our thanks go to Brian & Ros for use of their washing machine, the feel of clean salt free sheets is most enjoyable. We also appreciated a lovely Thai meal with them at Randwick, its always great to catch up. Thanks also go to Greg, our departing crew who has jumped ship to fly home to Trudy & the twins on Kangaroo Island. A more able, willing, considerate and good humoured crew we couldn't have wished for. We are hoping to catch up with Kristine & John (Ants's cousin and family) Thursday. Also tomorrow we will be joined by the new crew Brian MacArthur and Kerry Hall for the next leg of our journey.
The forecast for Saturday and a few days beyond is for a mild westerly change so an excellent way to leave Australia for Noumea, possibly an 8 day voyage. We have booked in with Customs for clearance on Friday and than dawn Saturday should see us away.
Oh yeah, even Ants has some trepidation. It is a big trip from here on.
The next time we email/blog may be a couple of weeks from now and it will be from foreign lands!
Salutations, Jane & Ants