Paused in Paynesville

We haven’t sailed since 7th April and it is likely this will be our lot for at least another month…. Although this is another interruption to our cruising life – and we have had a few of these lately – it is actually not all doom and gloom. We have had a lot of experience living in very close confines, for long periods of time, under trying circumstances. We are comfortable, we maximise this downtime to look after ourselves, we focus on activities we enjoy to get through this crisis.

We are pleased to have chosen Paynesville rather than Melbourne as our waiting out spot: closer to nature, quieter, more scenic, more welcoming and probably much safer.

Looking across to Raymond Island at dusk
Brilliant sunrise with intense pinks & mauves

One of the advantages of being in the Gippsland Lakes is the closeness to Mother Nature. We don’t have to go very far on our daily walks to see interesting critters, particularly if we catch the ferry across to Raymond Island for daily exercise.

Boating Restrictions

There are four of us visiting yachts moored along the floating jetties in front of the Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club: three catamarans and one monohull. Another few boats are spread along other jetties. All of us are stopped in our tracks by the dreaded virus and the draconian restrictions. We are particularly interested in tracking the conditions for the Eastern Seaboard since this is where we want to go.

Recreational boating is banned in Victoria and all other states. Although Anui is our home rather than a recreational vessel, we can’t move her. If we do we cop a $1600 fine! So we can’t get to New South Wales.

It is unclear whether as a live-aboard in New South Wales you can come ashore. You are definitely not permitted to cross into Queensland unless you have a permit. Very few of these are issued if you are not a Queensland resident coming home or have a valid reason to travel. And heading for the reef is not one of these! If you were already in Queensland when the borders closed, you must stay in the area you find yourselves in! Whatever location you are in, your boat is tracked on AIS and the water police checks your status.

Rules are different in different states and changing frequently. It is hard to get definitive updates and official advice. As we enquire with Border Patrol, Marine Traffic, the Water Police, Port Authorities, we get different information. It is an evolving situation. You hear of boats flaunting the rules and crossing borders, only to get turned back. So guess where we are spending the next few weeks? Essentially until boating restrictions are eased, we are staying put.

The big cats squad!

We are getting to know our neighbours. From our deck we chat to the monohull in front of us, a 15m Beneteau Oceanis from South Australia called About Time, and from our cockpit we talk to the 17m catamaran behind us called Wildfire, a Schionning G Force on its first ever trip from Queenscliff (they did not get very far, poor buggers). And then further along is Novea, another cat, a 15m Fountain Pajot Salina from Queensland. Being all live-aboards on well equipped vessels we are used to confinement, self-sufficiency and compromise. Only this time the compromise is not forced on us by the weather. Watch the exodus as soon as restrictions are eased! It will be a race across The Entrance! But for now we wait patiently.

Wildfire at sunset from Anui’s cockpit
Anui taken from Wildfire’s deck

Staying Connected

We are reminded that human relationships are what keeps us going. You might be physically isolated but you don’t have to be emotionally cut off. For us, our regular interactions – albeit at a distance – with local Paynesville friends, with other yachties stranded like us, with more distant friends and family over the phone or internet, are so important. And when you realise a precious connection might be lost, that is when the isolation weighs on you.

We had some distressing news from France. Papa had a fall and broke the neck of his femur. He was taken to hospital and operated on. We were helpless to do anything for him and were without contact over Easter. We felt terribly upset when it first happened. Why does he have to endure so much? For what purpose, to what value? We thought that would be the end of the road for him, but he is one tough cookie! He is now back at his nursing home and starting rehab. Unbelievable! His courage and his will to live are stronger than anything. And yet he is lonely, in pain, very confused, with no hope for survival long term. He is not a man of faith. So what drives him to keep going?

Without hope how would you keep going? What do you hope for?

Stay hopeful. Stay positive. Stay safe.

30 thoughts on “Paused in Paynesville

  1. The will to survive is bred into the human race, the saber tooth tigers culled those not strong enough.

  2. Oh, Chris. So sorry to hear about the dramas with your dad. In terms of ‘the rules’ I would suggest up here in Qld they might be seen by the locals as ‘guidelines’. We have been hanging off Jumpinpin for about a week (as we had to move from a designated 7 day zone further south). There were around 35 boats in countable distance from where we are anchored over Easter – I would hazard a guess that around 30 of them were ‘recreational’ and there seemed to be no obvious movement of vessels when the fisheries or police vessels went through the anchorage -despite the fact some boats (and people) were clearly not practicing social distancing. On the other hand I have heard that police vessels have turned whole fleets out of Tangalooma and we actually know one boat who crossed the border and was turned around (and is now sitting out this period in NSW). Stay Safe and well. xx Trish

    • Hi Trish. The main difficulty is that different states apply the rules with varying rigour. We can’t run the risk of a fine for leaving Victoria and the uncertainty of whether we would get turned back or allowed to land in NSW. Two boats were turned back in Eden.

  3. I agree – it is not worth the risk – although you might want to invest in some down jackets! 🙂 Interesting that the boats were turned around in Eden, as from a land perspective I think that Victoria and NSW are the only states that don’t have a closed border (officially), although clearly restrictions and procedures do apply. I had also heard that Eden itself was closed so I wonder whether it was just because they entered Two Fold Bay and whether they would have been treated differently heading into one of the bigger bays further north? (I am not up to date with all the intricacies – as we are not envisaging moving from the Gold Coast for a while)

    • The fan heater is on every night, the advantage of being plugged in to shore power. The winter gear is at hand and we’ve ordered merino tops from Icebreaker! But the last three days have been lovely and sunny: shorts and T-shirts!

  4. Oh dear. Feel for you about your dad Chris. Glad you have some company on the water albeit from afar. We too are stuck here in Vic, but on land. We are resigned to a shortened northern adventure this year, just hoping we at least get one. I dragged out the production of my 2019 photo book for as long as I could. I finally hit the publish button yesterday after enjoying reliving my underwater fun and games from last year. Take care. A

    • Thanks Amanda – yes, we are making do here. Good to hear you have been working on your photo books… a bit of reliving the good times is a great strategy! I am doing a photoshop course which is amazing. Look after yourselves!

  5. I’m sorry Chris for your separation at this time from your Dad in his situation.
    On Tuesday last week my younger brother called me from Newcastle area with worsening dementure. He died two days later, and his funeral was yesterday at Lemontree Passage, but I could not be there, unfortunately.
    Several visits to Newlands Arm to my boat have been made, but no boating travel is allowed as you know ! Glad you are making the best of your extended stay in Paynesville.

    • Oh Doug, so sad to hear about your brother. These are especially hard times when your loved ones pass away alone.
      What colour is Tripod? We noticed a green tri on one of our walks and wondered if it was yours.

      • The green Tri belongs to my best friend in Sale. We delivered it here from Adelaide. It’s a Crowther ‘Twiggy’ currently for sale. A very quick boat; 3 & a half days from Adelaide with double-reefed main ! Mostly between 8-14 kts !
        My boat ‘Tripod’ has white hulls & biscuit-coloured cabin top and decks. She is in the next bay westwards from the Twiggy

      • Hi Guys. I’m Michael from Cyan, the green Twiggy.

        I had a lovely sail with Robyn (wife) on the last sailing day before the recreational boating ban. We sailed counter-clockwise around Raymond Island. Just beautiful. Since then I’m not allowed to go to the boat even for maintenance. I’m finding it difficult not getting to even sit on Cyan. However, on the upside, I’m working from home and still getting paid. As a sailing friend said “It’s just like being retired except for the boating”

        Hang in there guys.

      • Hi Michael, so nice to hear from you. It is a frustrating time but let’s hope some of the boating restrictions get eased in a month time! Cyan looks like a mean machine. Fingers crossed we get to meet soon. And we do remember now you contacting us a couple of months ago when we were at Yarra’s Edge… how things have changed!

  6. What a beautiful place to be ‘stuck’ in! Bit better than a flat in central London ….
    Take care guys.

  7. I am glad you continue to enjoy your sojourn at Paynesville, I like the photos. I hope your Dad is doing ok and he is doing his exercises

    • Yes we are fine, Sue. Dad is not really, he did way too much on his first rehab and the next day was in a lot of pain and could not get up. He is also very confused. Whether this is temporary is yet to be seen.

  8. Hi Chris and Wade, sounds like you are comfortable in Paynesville. A nice place to be. Ive decided to head back from Europe. I dont think there will be full freedom of movement here for some many months. Take care Mick

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