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.
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.
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.
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.
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.