Easing of restrictions
We thought we might be able to leave the Gippsland Lakes with the easing of lockdown restrictions… Not so, or at least not yet. But we can now invite a few friends on board, have small gatherings outside with social distancing, move around the region and this makes a world of difference. Recreational boating is now allowed and the Lakes have come alive again. Yesterday the floating shed was cruising up and down the McMillan Strait playing old time music and singing… really fun and uplifting for all of us.
There are other nice sights to be enjoyed like this flamboyant sunset…
… and this Great Cormorant which for a while looked like it had bitten more than it could chew. It caught a large bream and struggled to gulp it down whole!
And there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the Lakes now reopened for boating, the stranded yachts can’t occupy the public jetties anymore but Gippsland Ports have been extremely helpful and organised berths elsewhere for us all. They have found a big enough pen with power for Anui at Lakes Entrance. It is getting quite cold at night and the mornings are particularly chilly, so being plugged in to shore power to run the all important electric heater is an advantage! Our days in Paynesville are numbered… we move on Monday.
Our voyaging may not resume for a while, but we have a little more freedom. Given that the only outing which was allowed on the Gippsland Lakes for the past two months was a trip from the jetty to the poo pond to pump out the holding tanks, we can see improvements!
The biggest improvement will come if New South Wales ease their quarantine procedures. At present although we are allowed to be in NSW waters, we are forbidden to go ashore unless we quarantine under supervision in a hotel. After the Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle, it is not surprising but it is very impractical for liveaboard cruisers. A request for exemption from hotel quarantine for people like us has been submitted, which if approved would allow us to self-isolate on board. If this comes through, we will be able to leave Victoria and head to northern NSW. Queensland will still be out of bounds though since the state border remains closed. For now however, we wait.
Work on Anui
Right, so no getaway yet… what else can we do to keep ourselves amused? We are close to running out of boat projects, you realise! However here are three more.
Sail clean up
Last Friday while the weather was mild and the wind light, we removed the screecher and took it to a grassy area close to a tap, to give our sail a major clean. If you have a look at these two images from our time at Williamstown, you will get an idea of what had collected inside all our sails: black ash from the fires as well as red dirt from a few dust storm.
We had cleaned the mainsail at Yarra’s Edge, but now it was time to tackle the screecher, and the jib will probably be next! The staining was not pretty, and particularly disappointing since both the main and screecher were new sails! We managed to roll the screecher, fold it, drag it in a trolley to the local park, spread it out and we connected meters of hose to the BBQ tap! We drenched the screecher, soaped it up, and scrubbed away for a couple of hours. All this hard work was accompanied by copious amounts of old people’s noises, and you could have mistaken us for tourette syndrome sufferers with the amount of uncontrolled movements, screams and swearing that escaped from us, but it was all caused by the dozens and dozens of biting mozzies!
Then it was time to roll the sail back, now covered with lawn clippings, bring it back to the boat, hoist it up the mast and let it fly… hoping we had not swapped mud for grass stains! We had not! The wind did its job, dried the sail and blew away the grass. Job done. Not quite as good as new but better than when we started!
Port Bow Cleat
Our old shipwrights from our previous cat Take It Easy, Frecheville Heaney Boat Builders, repaired the port bow cleat that was damaged when we weathered a few storms too many at the Anchorage Marina in Williamstown last January. This involved removing the loose cleat, enlarging the fixing holes, refilling them with epoxy, reglassing the base, spray painting it and refixing the cleat. James and Tim did a great job, much better than we could have, and we enjoyed renewing our custom and friendship with them. Being ‘at work’ they were allowed on board and we were also able to show them our pride and joy. It is always interesting how shipwrights look at a boat… nothing escapes them, good or bad, and we are very pleased to say they were impressed with Anui’s construction and finish inside and out.
Telstra Go Repeater
A useful thing we have done while in lockdown to help us stay connected is to order a Telstra Go Repeater and install an antenna to our highest spreader. In future this will ensure that even in remote areas our signal for voice quality and data speed is boosted and our coverage extended. It will be nice to be able to make calls or get internet service from the Ribbon Reefs in Far North Queensland, from Fitzroy Reef or Lady Musgrave in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, even cross Bass Strait or brave the West Coast of Tasmania and not be out of range.
Here is Wade at the top of the mast, working on the attachment point on the top spreader for the aerial. It is a long way up there and he has to be extra nice to be lowered back down!
Excellent news for Wade who has the all clear from the medicos… another month of disturbed patterns to be expected then a gradual return to normal.
Papa has been discharged from hospital and is back at the nursing home. And with the easing of restrictions in France and some pity from the doctor, my sister Veronique will be able to visit him in his room on the weekend. What a special time that will be!
So that’s it for another week! To all our friends who wish they could see us sail away, sorry, not yet. Enjoy these shots instead!
Be hopeful, be patient, be ready!