2020 Aus Portland to American River
A Sunday Drive with Friends
And more motoring to Kangaroo Island
Mark and Sandra hadn’t finished with us yet and mid-afternoon on the Sunday they came and collected us and we were whisked off to enjoy an overview, literally, of the spectacular coast and vast bays that bless this area of Victoria. We sat outside at the café in Bridgewater bay for a coffee and it seemed our hosts knew most of the people there, a favourite haunt and understandably so.
There is a series of limestone caves nearby where the weather has worn away the front of the caves revealing the interiors with stalactites and stalagmites that have been formed by chemical laden dripping water over millions of years and no doubt used by the first Australians. Nearby whatever lives in the lakes has to tolerate the water skiers that frequent the area and Mark drove us slowly around the big wood chip plant where he works when he’s not out fishing. He kindly volunteered to help us get out of our tight little spot the next morning and move Zoonie to the outside pontoon ready for a departure on the Tuesday, so we said our farewells to this kind couple after yet another short and sweet friendship.
After supper the two of us wandered along the as yet unexplored harbour wall towards a big moored and unladen ship. A dockworker came towards us in his 4x4 and warned us to not go beyond the gate this side of the ship. “We’re about to fumigate it, China doesn’t want our insects!” Coronavirus was in the news and not only do they not want infested ships there but they didn’t want any more of the crayfish either. It appeared they didn’t want to handle any ships, even their own. The local commercial fishing boats were bringing all their pots back in to port until the ban was lifted or until the start of the new cray season quota, whichever came first. These viruses are a seasonal thing and hopefully when the climate moves on in China so will the virus. So much is exported from Aussie to China, the ‘factory of the world’ as it is known.
This of course has repercussions for the crews. One of the speeches at the Australia Day gathering was about the local Mission to Seamen, The White Angels, which is very busy providing a second home to these mariners who are often away from home and family for months and those absences are often made longer by events like disease, industrial action and of course the weather. A hard, uncertain life.
The next morning Mark had gone off early to collect his pots too but when he came back with 35 crayfish and all his pots safely stored onboard, (tough for the fishermen but good for the crays and us!) he came over and held a long line from Zoonie’s stern to gently help pull her around the tight corner while Rob reversed while I let another long line out at the bow so she would not swing too far across towards the delicate little boat next to us. All was good until Mark threw the line back aboard. Unfortunately the end fell over the side and was promptly gobbled up by the bow thruster Rob was operating at the time, “Oh so you’ve got a thruster” Mark commented watching helplessly from the pontoon. “No worries I stopped it as soon as I saw the line disappear” Rob called reassuringly. That’ll be a trip overboard for him I thought.
Squeezed into his rubbers once Zoons was safely tied up Rob descended astern to say the water wasn’t at all bad and by floating next to her bow and reaching down he could feel the rope was only once around the little prop and was easy to unravel, no damage having been done to the blades. A quick check in the foc’sle revealed the seal was intact and no water was coming in so it was all good.
We had ahead of us a day of getting ready for sea. I did a big cook using TVP and adding all the veg I could find and some nice flavourings so I could quickly turn it into a Bolognese, or chili or curry for use at sea. In fact, because we didn’t have it every night the portions lasted us 11 days, stored in the coolest part of the fridge right at the bottom.
We left at the civilised hour of midday on the Tuesday and had a nice sail southward to clear the headland but as we turned west the wind was on our nose so it was on with the iron topsail and back amongst our marine friends the albatross and lots of dolphins and gannets feeding. There is an area around here called and upwelling and the cold nutrient rich water is plentiful in just the sort of small fish the birds like.
During the night the wind dropped away to nothing so we were motoring with 1700 sea horses pushing us along and still only making 4.4 knots against the tide. We moved Zoonie out to the 500 metre contour because we were approaching Rock Lobster and Giant Crab fishing grounds knowing we would meet more ships out there but maybe also find a favourable current. It was frustrating for a while, all this effort and not much progress, but it was also warm with a lovely blue sky and sparkling sea.
That night all the world and his fishing boat were out there scooping up the oceans plentiful harvest.
The next day was another long day of motor-sailing but at least our destination was at the end of it; would we make it in in daylight through the narrow river entrance or would we have to anchor in the bay for the night in amongst the fish farms? All day the barometer was slowly falling so we knew the westerly blow was on its way. Motoring across the bay in the evening we had a lovely video chat with Rich, Rupert and George so we knew there would be some internet there but as it turned out is wasn’t strong enough a signal to send photographs on blogs.
The next day, as we sat on our ‘Cotton’ buoy I mentioned in the blog ‘The Weather Calls the Tune’ you were all about to go through Brexit Day at last.