2022 Australia Gippsland Lakes

Well this was not quite a cruise but a mission to clean the bottom of the hull.

I had booked a spot at the Bullocks island slip at Lakes Entrance so the trip was south past Green Cape, then past Gabo Island and along 90 mile beach and through the infamous bar at Lakes Entrance.

I set off from Bermagui just after dawn and expected the North East wind would help me all along the route but it had been driven by a low pressure in the Tasman sea and the swell was still coming if from the east making the echo off the shore a very uncomfortable ride.  The wind dropped and the main became useless slating back and forth not holding Malua upright so down it came and still the engine drove us forward.

Eden passed then Green Cape and I was looking to call into Gabo Island for a short sleep but checked the weather forecast.  Strong wind warning along the west coast of Victoria so I had to abandon the anchoring in the small bay on the east of Gabo.  Continue to make best speed to try to get in to the infamous bar entrance at Lakes Entrance.

The night passed without seeing any other vessel and dawn came with a semi-flat sea.  The Coast Guard and Police vessel sped by going East to look for some swimmer who had not returned.  The entrance at Lakes Entrance is not easy to see because there are no rocks or headland to mark the entrance along the long sand shore of 90 mile beach but my chartplotter and waypoints highlighted where to go.  I was also watching the depth contours to see the depth decrease.  Then right before my eyes is the entrance. 

I closed all the hatches and portlights put the wash boards in the companionway and donned my lifejacket.  Called on the VHF radio "all ship, all ships this is sailing vessel Malua.  I am constrained by my draft and request other vessels to give me room as I enter the seaway Over."  I had already accessed the Gippsland Ports web site here...    to see how fast the outgoing flow was.  It indicated about 3.5 knots which would start to drop off as the tide rose to high in about 2 hours just before sunset.  I again checked the forecast and the strong wind warning from the West was current and the actual wind strength at  Wilsons Promontory was already at 20 knots so the choice was to wait for the tide and run out or face an uncertain entrance with and outgoing flow and a cross wind.

The decision was simple go for it.  Malua can do 6 knots and standing waves and current flows are not new.  I lined up the blue lead lights and aimed Malua for the entrance.  On the starboard side one could clearly see the shallow water and the breaking waves.  On the port the waves were closer in shore but up ahead  on the left of the entrance I could see a number of standing waves cresting and then breaking or falling back.  When you get this close there is no going back.  I was now in about 4 knots of outgoing current as I edged my way towards the breakwall entrance at about 2 knots.  Malua handled the waves superbly and we passed between the red and green of the entrance.  Now I had to keep the bow pointing directly into the stream and edge my way up the channel.

The channel must be about 50 to 80 m wide so you dont have much room.  The starboard breakwall came to and end with the opening to the Lakes Entrance "harbour".  Now I know you do a wide swing of the entrance and try and get the outflow to help you in making careful note not to be trapped against the end of the rockwall.  Malua was in the carl water.  It was almost an anticlimax things went so smoothly.  I had identified a wharf on the sea side of the entrance to which I could tie up so prepared Malue to dock with fenders then edged my way in to a very well maintained berth next to two other vessels.

It was time for a hot cup of tea and to get out of my wet weather gear.  I had made the trip in 35 hours.  Not a good run by any stretch of the imagination but uneventful and nothing has broken or let me down.