Melbourne to Refuge
Returning to Wilson's Promontory
After staying in Geelong for 2 weeks it was time to move on so we returned to Queenscliff to wait for a window to exit the Bay. The sail from Geelong was in excellent conditions, 10 – 15 knots of breeze, we enjoyed it enormously. A good sail at last the first one since we crossed Bass Strait. We planned to wait the night and then go out the next day . . . but . . .
As always with sailing things don't always go according to plan. As we entered “the Cut” we were pushed by the unexpected strong current against the canal wall and Lupi's rudder was bent as a result of a collision with the wall. We were very upset! But fortunately the slip there was available and in a day we were able to remove the rudder and straighten it, with the help of some tools borrowed form an engineer working on the next door fishing boat. It did not look as bad as we thought. There were only a few scrapes in the paint on the rudder after we straightened it. The rest of the underneath of the boat was in excellent condition, thankfully.
The fun continued and what was meant to be an overnight stay ended up taking a week. We explored Queenscliff and learnt a lot about its history while we were waiting for the right weather to leave.
To this point our journey had been very slow. We had been in Port Phillip almost as long as we were at E berth in Geilston Bay. (6 weeks)
Well we did it!!!!! We finally left Port Phillip Bay on the 3rd July. Passing through the “Rip” was a bit hairy and sloppy – the last of the ebb before slack water. Another stressful part of our adventure was behind us.
The only casualties were the microwave which dropped out of its hole and onto the kettle, and the kettle which lost its handle when the microwave landed on it. There was no damage to the microwave fortunately.
Once we were through the “Rip” we cut the motor and put up the sails, although there was very little wind at that stage. At times we were actually going nowhere. Our very slow course took us toward Cape Schanck, but as night fell we were close to the shipping channel from Westernport Bay we decided to head out to sea and get away from the coast as well. The wind was, as usual, on the nose and as we were heading out to sea we were actually starting to head west of south which meant we were effectively going backwards slowly. During the night though, the wind gradually started to swing more easterly and freshen and we could sail more southerly and then toward the east. The seas became bigger in the dark and Lupari started to romp and frolic through 2 metre seas in 15 knots of wind. We kept on sailing into the wind because we know that was the way we had to go and it was safe while we were having difficulties with some of the instruments. At daylight we turned on the computer to find out exactly where we were. We were 20 nm south of Cape Liptrap – a long way out to sea. By now the wind had veered to the north east so that we could sail an easterly course which would get us close to land at South East Point on Wilson's Prom. This took all day and by the time we were 10 miles from our destination of Waterloo Bay the wind was beginning to calm down again and we started the motor and motored the last few miles into Waterloo Bay – our quiet little anchorage from the trip to Victoria. We sailed 128 miles in 29 hours.
We were very tired – not much sleep at sea – so we ate and went to sleep. During the night the wind freshened again from the north-west which put us on a lee shore and when we got up in the morning we were very close to that shore – the anchor alarm had failed to go off. Fortunately the water was deep and so we rushed to start the motor and leave the bay. The wind was now blowing 35 knots.
We headed around to Refuge Cove which is only 5 miles away from Waterloo which would offer more shelter in the strong winds. It was a rough trip but close to shore we were sheltered from the wind and waves.
Refuge Cove is the only coastal retreat we have heard Victorian boaties talk about. It is as if it is the only place to go. It nearly is! Tasmanians, particularly Southern Tasmanians, are so lucky to have the cruising waters we do.
Refuge Cove is a lovely spot with 3 sheltered beaches, 2 little coves, one of which is a bit more open to the sea. There are campsites for backpackers and boaties and we have seen people on the beach nearly every day. I can imagine it would be very busy in the summer!!
We had planned to stay here a couple of days, wait for the wind to ease and the seas to ease and then head to Eden, but after the first blow there was more . . . One night the wind roared through the bay and our windometer read 56 knots on one gust. There were many that were nearly as strong. A scary night but the anchor held and we stayed safe.
We became part of yachting legend at Refuge Cove. There is a wall where numerous boats have attached name plates. Ours in now one of them.
It was difficult communicating from there – no VHF reception or mobile phone. We worried that our family would be anxious after we had been out of contact for over a week and likely to be for a bit longer. Tascoast Radio came to the rescue on our HF radio. The radio operator was great, and kind enough to let our family know we were OK. It was a good feeling to know that someone knew where we were. There is not a service in Victoria that we have found like we have in Hobart where boats can report their positions. It makes us realise how easy and safe sailing is in Tasmania and how great the service is that Tascoast and Hobart Coast Radio provide.
While we were at Refuge we had the company of a pair of Pacific Gulls. They were very entertaining. They talked to each other and to us. One in particular, landed on the boat or dinghy and expected to be fed. I think they were used to people and boats. They were our constant companions..
It was very quiet here so a different sound in the environment gets noticed at 2am. One night there was a strange sound in the water that sounded like a motor. It was and a big one too. An ocean-going tug had come in to shelter from the weather. It stayed about 24 hours and left in the middle of the night too. There were no other boats to share our haven with us.
The last few days we were there became progressively uncomfortable when easterly weather brought a swell into the bay and had us rocking more than gently for a couple of nights. It was chilly and drizzly too. By Sunday there looked like a break in the weather and we decided that we would “definitely maybe” go. This is a term that we picked up when we read a book by Clare Francis about sailing.We thought it was a very apt term and have used it such a lot since. And on Monday, when there was a strong wind warning in the area, supposedly abating we decided to leave.
That wasn't to be quite as we expected . . .