Monday was a momentous day: a time to bid farewell to Papa after he died during the night (click this link to read our Sadness post) but also a time to say goodbye to our Paynesville friends after spending six weeks there. It is always a bit sad to cast away the mooring lines when you have stayed in one spot for a while and Paynesville always feels like home. But the harbourmaster asked us to relocate so we did!
We motored to Lakes Entrance in totally calm conditions. It was a subdued passage, devoid of speed, wind, sails or excitement. Anui quietly glided on the mirror-like waterways.
It perfectly matched our mood. We were silent, sad, in our thoughts. Mourning has a nasty habit of reopening old wounds. You end up grieving for more than one person, and it is not just your grief either. Your partner grieves again, friends who support you do too for their own departed loved ones. We have lost three people in a short space of time, all during these terribly isolating conditions: our friend Baz, Wade’s auntie Pam, and My Dad. It would be a tough period at any time, but made much worse by the pandemic. They say bad things come in threes. Let’s hope we are done now as our hearts can’t take much more sorrow.
However life goes on. One good thing about the complete absence of breeze: it made it easier for us to berth at the Cunninghame Quays. Although manoeuvring at close quarters is normally my job, in my state of mind I passed on bringing Anui into the pen. Wade handled the manoeuvre beautifully, pivoting the beast smoothly and backing her in first go. It does not mean he was not in need of a nervous wee though!
We are attending to the last bits of maintenance on Anui. We are expecting our Telstra signal booster, cable and antenna to arrive any day. Because the spreader where the antenna will be affixed is convexe, Wade has made a wooden pad for it to clamp on the spreader and this is now in place. Another winch to the top of the mast coming up!
We cleaned up the jib before leaving Paynesville. This was the third of our sails that needed a scrub after the fires and dust storms. It was a huge job and we have learnt our lesson: dust and ash get everywhere as does rainwater. The filthy greasy mix infiltrates the furled sails. When the fall out from a dust storm or bush fire happens again, we will be sure to clean the sails soon afterwards to minimise staining!
Eager to leave
Live-aboard cruisers are a small group of people who fall outside the norm: no fixed address, our home is our boat, we tend to avoid public jetties and marinas, preferring to anchor away from crowds, in the wilderness. But for two months, we have been stuck against a jetty, something far less safe than sailing!
When it comes to lockdown rules we have been overlooked by the authorities. Where travel between Victoria and New South Wales is permitted and you don’t have to quarantine when you drive by car across the border, entering NSW by sea is a different matter. The legislation on maritime entries was drafted with big ships in mind, not little yachts like us. The rules state you have to go into isolation and quarantine on land. So what do you do with your boat and in our case the pussycat while you are locked up in a hotel for two weeks?
Our conversations with NSW Maritime indicate a formal request for exemption from quarantine for live-aboard cruisers has been submitted but a response has not come through yet. No point listening to people’s interpretations, assumptions, misconceptions, all coloured by their desire to find loopholes. Until NSW Maritime formally confirm we are allowed to enter the state without hotel quarantine, we wait patiently and carefully in the Gippsland Lakes.
To be frank we not only are wary of misguided rumours, we also feel nervous about the decrease in prudence displayed by people since the easing of restrictions. We constantly remind ourselves that self-distancing and good hygiene are critical and this includes being cautious with visiting friends, which is really hard. Leaving land and staying offshore on a fully provisioned boat will be far safer for us.
Our new surroundings
We will keep you posted on what happens next. For now, here are a few shots of our new surroundings. Lakes Entrance is an active fishing port. The town is located on the edge of the Ninety Mile Beach, where the Gippsland Lakes meet Bass Strait. The feel is very different from Paynesville, but attractive nevertheless. We are right in front of town, with easy access to good facilities. There are nice walks along the Cunninghame Arm, with a foot bridge across the Arm to the ocean beach.
The glow of sunset and softness of dawn are special: a time to quietly chat with your loved ones on the phone or in your mind.
Look ahead, stay hopeful, be careful