First, a storm front
The Prom is not known for its calm conditions, especially as winter approaches. Severe lows increase in frequency at this time of year and things can get a bit lively. This was how the forecast looked last Sunday: a NW front, lots of red – never a good thing! If you click on the image below and zoom in you can just see the outline of the Prom in yellow and our anchorage down the bottom.
We weathered the storm at Waterloo Bay. We had dropped the pick in 7 m of water a few days earlier, laid out close to 100 meters of chain on Saturday night to ensure we stayed put. The wind blew at over 40 knots from 2am for 10 hours, and over 60 for two of these. It peaked at 69.8 knots (127 km/h) on Sunday morning. You know things are a bit extreme when you are feeling okay at 45 knots and positively relaxed at 30 knots! The crazy thing is that once you can see the boat is not budging in the huge gusts, you feel a little less anxious and just watch the fury! Thank god for a strong boat and great anchor! Here is how it looked:
Off to the Gippsland Lakes!
One storm is enough though! The time has come to leave this beautiful region, head for the shelter of the Gippsland Lakes and face the music of COVID-19 restrictions there.
We had a few days before the next front came, and thought we’d wait until the sea calmed down a bit before we set off. We left Waterloo Bay at 4pm on Monday and headed northeast along the Ninety Mile Beach for the 14 hour passage to The Lakes – one of our rare overnighters!
Overnighters have a way of focusing the mind as you sail your boat in the moonlit night. You are alone at the wheel for your watch, feeling the wind and speed, and reflect on your past adventures, on your life choices, on the turbulent last months and what life has thrown at us. There are moments of joy as Anui sails effortlessly, but also sadness, knowing this is the last passage for a while.
It was a very nice downwind run. We sailed all the way at a good pace under screecher, entered the Gippsland Lakes at first light and motored all the way to Paynesville some 15 miles back west. We did not see a soul. It was eerie being the only boat moving through the lakes. Here are a few images from the start of our passage before night came and our arrival at first light.
We are very lucky. We are tied up at a floating jetty, the only spot that we could fit in and was vacant. Gippsland Ports were very accommodating and granted us a permit to berth. It helps that they knew us front some 15 years of mooring our boats here! We have power and water, which means heating at night and hot showers on board, we can walk ashore for exercise and grocery shopping.
How long for?
We have hit the pause button on our sea wanderers’ ways. We are definitely in the Lakes till the end of April since Wade needs to attend to his medical follow ups. Beyond this, we are not sure what will happen. All recreational boating is banned in Victoria, and how this affects liveaboards like us wishing to leave is unclear. At this stage what is definite is that we cannot wander around the Lakes, anchor or pick up a public mooring. Where we are now is where Anui must stay. With the strategy for the management of COVID-19 evolving and rules changing daily about what we can and can’t do, about crossing state borders and about access to ports, we have to accept we have to wait to see how things develop and be prepared to spend several months here.
There are worse places to be stuck in though. We know many people here, we have had quite a few visitors at the jetty already and it feels more like a home coming than a stranding. The sad thing is that we were looking forward to show our friends the outside and inside of Anui, but at the moment we can’t invite them on board.
Have a good Easter everybody!
Be safe. Stay home. Eat chocolate.