Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: Our adventures on the Gippsland Lakes - part one

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Our adventures on the Gippsland Lakes - part one

Week One,
Day one
We arrived just after 12 and the Captain's son, wife and grandson were there before us so, after unloading the contents of the cars onto Manookatoo and securing the little one in his life-jacket we cruised off and across to Duck Arm where we anchored and enjoyed a lovely lunch of Christmas leftovers. The Captain's son was keen to prove his naval skills so soon after lunch we hoisted the Brig off the roof and he took his little family for a cruise up to the end of Duck Arm and back. With cries of "go faster, daddy!" ringing across the water they took off out of the 5 knot zone and into Lake Victoria, laughing and enjoying life.
When they returned refreshed and excited, the son decided a swim was on the agenda - not that anyone else was keen. With the little one calling "1, 2, 3, jump!" he hit the water time and again, much to his own son's delight. Excitement over, we motored back to Paynesville in time for a delicious dinner at the Cruising Club - including a win in the meat raffle! Returning to the boat we sat upstairs in the balmy night air enjoying a late night Port and grandson cuddles before bed.
Day two
We farewelled the family early the next morning, back to Canberra then we made plans for the day ahead, starting with a trip to the seafood shop for prawns.....we headed back into Lake Victoria and turned to port, down and into Bunga Arm, a narrow waterway between the Boole Peninsula and the sand dunes fronting Ninety Mile Beach. We cruised past Ocean Grange and Steamer Landing and tied up further down, choosing a spot where the sandy cliffs showed that the water was deep almost up to the shoreline.
Our first look at Ninety Mile Beach
We relaxed the day away, with prawns and white wine for lunch and an afternoon siesta, feeling as if finally we really were on holidays. The day was warm and sunny and the water was inviting, so we had a swim - the First Mate's season-opening dip. With strong south westerlies forecast for the evening we cruised back to the Marina in the late afternoon, enjoying a barbecue dinner on the back deck before the weather turned, admiring the sunset and the passing parade of watercraft before bed.

Day three
The wind blew all night, rocking us to sleep, and the following day's forecast was for it to continue all day until about 9pm. Having checked out the moorings along Bunga Arm we were confident we could find a safe haven until the wind dropped, so we headed back out and made our rolling way across and into the channel, cruising past where we had moored the day before. Early reconnaissance had shown us there were several good spots further along the arm, almost to the end, so we cruised down. We passed the 5 knot limit, knowing we would be undisturbed by waterskiers further along and ended up at what had once been the "second blowhole" camping area, now closed for tents but ok for boats like ours. Dropping the anchor onto the shore and tying up to a couple of sturdy trees, we were totally on our own and didn't see another vessel or person for the day.
A short climb up a sand dune and we could see Ninety Mile Beach; with the wind whipping up the waves and spraying sand onto us we didn't stay long! We relaxed the day away with nothing but the birds for company - right on dusk we saw a kangaroo on the top of the sand dunes. Dinner tonight was corned beef with pumpkin and parsnip mash, compliments of our raffle prize! Delicious! The spectacular sunset only added to our sense of wonder, but it was after dark when the stars came out that was the most awesome - with no light anywhere the view was amazing.
Day four
We woke to silence - the wind had stopped and the sky was blue. We went ashore and  climbed the sand dunes again - the erosion on the sea side only emphasised to us how wild the coast is. Returning to the boat, we untied and cruised back down Bunga Arm while we enjoyed our breakfast, then headed back into Lake Victoria, this time turning to starboard and making our way across to  Lake King and then to Metung. The jetty was busy so we didn't stay long, continuing along the waterway to Lakes Entrance, where we tied up at Flagstaff Jetty before lunch.
Flagstaff Jetty
After the solitude of last night it was very busy here, with all the fingers of the jetty full and every type of watercraft cruising by. We had lunch then boarded the brig for a trip across to Lakes to stock up for a couple of nights - we have no definite plans but want to be prepared for anything we might choose to do! We lazed the afternoon away on the flybridge and enjoyed our dinner of chicken skewers on the BBQ with the First Mate's "famous" fried rice and a glass or two of red as the sun went down. After another magnificent sunset we walked down to the end of the breakwater where the Captain relived his boys' adventure cruise from Westernport.
It was easy to see the fishing boats in the distance with their bright lights making them very noticeable.
Lakes Entrance Fishing Boat
On such a clear night we could also admire the seals rolling around in the waves at the entrance to the bar. Back aboard we enjoyed strawberries and cream with a glass of port before bed.

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