Waterloo Bay to Melbourne

Melbourne at last

There are interesting currents and tidal features around Wilson's Promontory that we tried to avoid, without success. They slowed our progress down quite considerably – they were going in the wrong direction.

The north easterly held until just after we rounded the point and we were on our way past Wilson’s Promontory. The wind died and the tide was running  against us at 2 knots. As it was getting dark we were virtually becalmed so we started the motor. 

 (Just around the S.E. corner of Victoria there are some interesting islands. We had plenty of time to look at them we were virtually becalmed)

As soon as we did this the wind began to blow gently and it continued for the next 30 hours. There is nowhere to anchor along that part of the Victorian coast so we kept heading toward our destination, Melbourne. We continued our watch system of 3 hours on the helm, 3 hours resting as we had only one night's sleep since leaving Palana.

It was at about 14:00 when it was Greg’s turn for a sleep and a young seal came to follow me and play in the wake of the boat. He stayed with us for about half an hour. It was the first time that we have had such a lengthy interaction with a seal, although we have had several delightful interactions with dolphins. They were our companions at some time nearly every day.

By 15:00 we were nearing Phillip Island and we had been sailing for over 24 hours so we decided to start the motor, (the wind wasn’t helping) and motor into Cowes for the night. 

Heading into Westernport Bay was the scariest part of the whole adventure so far. The swell was pushing us in and piling up and there was a 4 knot current dragging us out. The engine was struggling to push us at 2 knots through the water. The breaking swell behind us was particularly un-nerving. 

There is something to be said for coming into places like that in the dark – you can’t see the full picture and it is probably better not to. 

Tying up to Cowes jetty at 10:30 meant that we had been travelling for 33 hours and we were looking forward to a rest. That was not to be! The swell that we had encountered in the channel was bashing Lupari up against the jetty and putting a lot of strain on her so we decided to anchor in the bay. Because of the incredible current running through there, every tide change, the boat would start rocking wildly as it turned into the  current and the anchor would drag and the alarm would go off. We moved the boat once again and then we slept until 10:30 and the next tide change.

The next day we made another attempt to tie up at the jetty at Cowes.  It did not seem as bad as it was the night before. This time we left the boat and walked up the street for a coffee and some supplies from the supermarket.  It was the first real coffee we had had for weeks and it tasted sooooo good.

When we returned to the boat she was being banged up against the jetty again and we rushed to untie her and get away. She was eager too. We dropped anchor again at the spot we had anchored over night and cooked our roast beef. Yum!

Our sleep was disturbed again during the night when the tide changed and when we woke in the morning there was a thick fog. This increased the degree of difficulty for finding the channel and motoring out of Westernport. The trip out took only a fraction of the time that it did on the way in as we were going with the tide and, by the time we were half way out of the bay, the fog  cleared to give us panoramic views of spectacular breaking surf on the mud banks only metres away.

We were in a hurry to get to Port Phillip Heads for the slack water there so that we could enter safely and, as there was little wind, we motored all the way. 

The day, although it was cold, was very calm and it allowed us time to watch in awe at the grace and beauty of the many albatrosses that were gliding just above the enormous swell.We took many photos and movies of them.

this is a photo of a ship disappearing behind a swell. It gives you an idea of how big the swell was

Our entrance to the heads was relatively uneventful, but challenging all the same. The term washing machine came to my mind as Greg fought for control of the boat as the current pulled and pushed our girl around. Lupari was travelling at 11 knots at one stage as we surged through with the incoming current. I was so grateful that there was no wind to complicate things.

There are 3 lighthouses to line up when entering the heads at Port Phillip Bay

 Port Phillip Heads Lighthouses 


 By the time we had negotiated the Rip it was about 16:00 so we decided to tie up at Queenscliff and stay the night there as there were warnings for strong south-westerly winds on the bay and we didn't know the area . We tied up in the channel called the Cut which drains swampland , Swan Bay, on the inland side of Queenscliff. We did this easily and we were both proud of our efforts. 

(The Cut - Queenscliff)

Once we tied up we went for a stroll and found ourselves at a delightful pub, where we had dinner, and used toilets that didn’t need pumping. Such simple things mean so much to cruising yachties.

That night we slept well and the wind didn’t eventuate.

Looking out of the window in the morning we saw dolphins cruising up the channel . There was a strong tidal flow here too. We had come in at slack water and by the time we had returned from the pub we were too tired to notice what the water was doing. It rained over night and was drizzly in the morning but we thought we would have a good sail across the bay when we  left the channel and negotiated the Queenscliff to Sorento ferry  wash at its Queenscliff terminal. It takes up a lot of valuable manoevering room at the entrance of the Cut. The ferries arrive and depart hourly at Queenscliff and Sorrento on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, and cross in the middle.

We were excited about getting to Melbourne and seeing Greg's daughter and her husband but crossing the bay was frustrating because we were expecting a good south-wester , perfect for crossing the bay but, of course, it didn’t happen. We tried sailing but the sails hung limp and forlorn so we motored all the way.

We navigated through a flotilla of big ships, 8 in all. We were constantly wondering which ones were moving and which ones were stationary – it was hard to tell.  We could see the Williamstown Time Ball Tower as we approached the entrance to toe Yarra River. 

Williamstown Time Ball Tower 

At the entrance to Port Melbourne we encountered the finish of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria’s Saturday afternoon race, seaplanes landing and taking off and ferries taking passengers from Williamstown to the city. That was a bit chaotic, they knew where they were going – we didn’t. We tied up on the end wall of the yacht club, in desperation, to let all the racing yachts get home and strolled up to the club to check in and to find out where our pen was. We had booked a berth there for a week or so.

We moved Lupari in and secured her while we spent time with Gregs daughters, fixed a few things and had the outboard serviced.

We liked Williamstown. it had a distinctive village feel like some of the suburbs we have encountered in other cities, North Hobart, Glebe and Balmain in Sydney and Paddington in Brisbane. We were here for 2 weeks and, although it was cold we enjoyed being there.