Rabbit Island by Richard Lawless

Sailing from Refuge Cove into Port Welshpool, we anchored off Rabbit Island for lunch.

White Bellied Sea Eagle

Cape Barren Goose

Endemic to southern Australia, they breed on islands off the coast in Bass Strait

Endemic to southern Australia, they breed on islands off the coast in Bass Strait

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Juvenile Pacific Gulls

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Phillip Island to Wilsons Promontory by Richard Lawless

In May 2019, dad and I completed this leg over 2 days/1 night, having sailed from Hastings to Cleeland Bight the previous day. We sailed for about 10 hours each day, anchoring in Waratah Bay off Walkerville South, then Refuge Cove on the East side of Wilsons Prom. Over the two days we covered about 80 nautical miles or 148 km.

Cape Woolamai, from the South

Cape Woolamai, from the South

Blustery North Westerlies and a decent swell, we accidently gybed a couple of times. Heart of Gold would roll over the swell, in doing so the wind would catch the opposite side of the sail meaning the boom and mainsail swings to the opposite side of the boat. It can be dangerous as it’s often unexpected and the boom can hit you in the head as it swings across. Also quite hard on gear. It happened later in the trip and the force broke a shackle on the mainsail traveller.

Blustery North Westerlies and a decent swell, we accidently gybed a couple of times. Heart of Gold would roll over the swell, in doing so the wind would catch the opposite side of the sail meaning the boom and mainsail swings to the opposite side of the boat. It can be dangerous as it’s often unexpected and the boom can hit you in the head as it swings across. Also quite hard on gear. It happened later in the trip and the force broke a shackle on the mainsail traveller.

This shy Albatross came in close for a look. Identified by neat narrow black margins on the underside of the wings, dark tab at shoulder intruding onto underside of wing. They can have a wingspan up to 2.5m and weigh up to 5kg. They are endemic breeders to Australia and only breed on 3 islands in Bass Strait and South of Tasmania. They are threatened by marine pollution, fishing by-catch, and changes in climate. Estimated population in wild is only 15,350 breeding pairs.

This shy Albatross came in close for a look. Identified by neat narrow black margins on the underside of the wings, dark tab at shoulder intruding onto underside of wing. They can have a wingspan up to 2.5m and weigh up to 5kg. They are endemic breeders to Australia and only breed on 3 islands in Bass Strait and South of Tasmania. They are threatened by marine pollution, fishing by-catch, and changes in climate. Estimated population in wild is only 15,350 breeding pairs.

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When sitting in the cockpit underneath the dodger it’s quite sheltered, but visibility is limited. We find ourselves standing on the lockers holding onto the dodger much of the time. Quite the workout holding on after a full day sailing.

When sitting in the cockpit underneath the dodger it’s quite sheltered, but visibility is limited. We find ourselves standing on the lockers holding onto the dodger much of the time. Quite the workout holding on after a full day sailing.

White horses

White horses

Shy Albatross

Shy Albatross

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Short beaked Common Dolphins. Super playful.

Short beaked Common Dolphins. Super playful.

A scrap of headsail poled out. The pole helps maintain the sail shape when the wind is coming from behind. The headsail is on a furler mounted on the forestay. Sail area can be adjusted by furling the sail in out out.

A scrap of headsail poled out. The pole helps maintain the sail shape when the wind is coming from behind. The headsail is on a furler mounted on the forestay. Sail area can be adjusted by furling the sail in out out.

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Waratah Bay anchorage

Waratah Bay anchorage

Dad slept in the pilot berth / couch. There’s a cupboard / sail locker that you put your feet into. It’s tight but cosy. There’s a lee cloth to the right to hold everything in and prevent you falling out of bed while sleeping as the boat rocks around.

Sunrise at Waratah Bay looking east to the Prom

Fluttering Shearwater. I had a little trouble identifying this one as his beak is crossed over. The ‘Seabirds and Pelagics’ page on Facebook helped with the I.D. - the beak just seems to be damaged.

Norman Island, Wilsons Prom.

Patterned vegetation of another island off the prom.

Cleft Island or ‘Skull Rock’ in the Anser Group of Islands. The hollowed out cave is 130m wide and 60m tall. Rumours on the internet talk of cannonballs being found in the cave from by-gone ships using it as target practice…

South East Point, Wilson’s Promontory. The Southernmost point of mainland Australia. The lighthouse was completed in 1859. This place would have seen some weather.

Rounding South East Point, lighthouse in the distance.

Arrived. Refuge Cove, Wilson’s Prom

Maiden Voyage - Hastings to Cleeland Bight by Richard Lawless

Our first proper trip since relaunch, and first time in Bass Strait! The leg was about 37 nautical miles, or 68 kilometres long. Our final destination was Refuge Cove at Wilson’s Promontory which was 103 nautical miles from Hastings, or 190km. We considered doing it in one leg overnight but the with a favourable forecast and no time restrictions we completed the sail in 3 days, anchoring overnight at Cleeland Bight and Waratah Bay.

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The BOM wind forecast for 13/05/19 was great with 20-25 knot Northwesterlies. There was a decent swell from the SW this day. The Red Bull Cape Fear surfing comp was held on the same day at Shipsterns Bluff in Tassie.

Departing Hastings Marina at sunrise

Water storage. Heart of Gold has 2 X 100L flexible bladder style water tanks under the V berth. They fit snug and probably hold about 80-90L each when full due to the shape of the cavity. We also have about 20L extra water stashed in water bottles in various places.

Water storage. Heart of Gold has 2 X 100L flexible bladder style water tanks under the V berth. They fit snug and probably hold about 80-90L each when full due to the shape of the cavity. We also have about 20L extra water stashed in water bottles in various places.

Looking North from Hastings towards the Yarra Ranges

Looking North from Hastings towards the Yarra Ranges

We timed our departure with the outgoing tide which at times had us running at 7 knots out through the channel leading to Bass strait. One area near McHaffies reef was a little sketchy with had steep standing waves. Here we’re passing the Nobbies on Phillip Island.

We timed our departure with the outgoing tide which at times had us running at 7 knots out through the channel leading to Bass strait. One area near McHaffies reef was a little sketchy with had steep standing waves. Here we’re passing the Nobbies on Phillip Island.

We had a downwind run in about 20-25 knots for most of the leg. Partly furled jib poled out and first reefed main. Looking at this pic the spinnaker pole could use a downhaul to prevent it lifting. Cape Woolamai in the distance.

Navik windvane steered beautifully. It will keep the boat sailing on a certain point of sail, constantly adjusting the tiller to maintain a straight course. Hands free sailing, although if the wind shifts direction, the course will change as the Navik steers to maintain the wind angle. This is the same windvane that broke when sailing across the Tasman. Dad was able to fabricate a new bracket out of steel to replace the cast aluminium one that failed during that voyage.

The view forward from the cockpit. Bulkhead compass mounted in the washboard was installed by the previous owner. We remove this board when not sailing and have a second board with no compass to lock the boat up with. Raymarine chartplotter is mounted on a series of RAM mounts and pivots from the cabin into the cockpit. Obscured by the companionway doors are wind and speed instruments on the port side and depth to starboard, Marine speakers by JL audio. All relatively protected by a strong canvas dodger which the stainless steel frame is partly visible.

Albatross

The Pinnacles, Cape Woolamai

The San Remo bridge connects Phillip island to the mainland. It has a stated clearance of 12m, although a police officer from Phillip island told me clearance is actually 13m. Heart of Gold would be able to go under the bridge, making for a shorter trip but we preferred to sail around offshore. Parks Victoria provides temporary moorings inside Cleeland Bight where this photo was taken from.

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Moored up in Cleeland Bight for the night, Stoked on a successful first trip!

Cruising in Westernport Bay by Richard Lawless

Westernport Bay, a couple of hours SE of Melbourne. Prior to having the boat down there it used to just be the bay I had to drive around to get to the surf at Phillip Island. Exploring it by boat has revealed the relatively pristine habitat of mangroves and shallow waterways. Home to many migratory bird species.

Australian Pelicans, Cormorants, Black Swans & Ducks

Australian White Ibis feeding in the mudflats off French Island at low tide

Westernport is a sheltered sailing ground, although subject to strong tides.

Chicory lane, French Island. Uncrowded anchorages were easy to find.

We ran into things. Having not sailed for a few years, the re-learning curve was quick. Maneuvering a small, full keeled, heavy boat of around 3.5 tons with a 10hp motor can be tricky, especially in tight marinas.

We ran aground in soft mud. Luckily on an incoming tide. We jumped overboard, sinking up to our knees in mud and walked Heart of Gold back into the channel.

We ran aground in soft mud. Luckily on an incoming tide. We jumped overboard, sinking up to our knees in mud and walked Heart of Gold back into the channel.

There are some fun waves tucked inside Westernport Bay. Point Leo breaking on a big SW swell.

Lu getting a feel for the helm

Noisy Corellas descend upon Hastings. The birds cause havoc in the marina, swinging off aerials and wind instruments on top of masts.

The Navik windvane hangs off the stern and steers the boat automatically. It took a few adjustments to get it level and balanced, and has been working well. A little tricky to set in light winds but once adjusted correctly it steers a straight course.

Tortoise Head, French Island

Submarine HMAS Otama. Built 1973, Launched 1975 (similar time to Heart of Gold). Length 295 ft, Status: awaiting preservation.

Flinders shoreline transitions

We spent a month at Hastings marina preparing for the voyage east along the Victorian coast.

Looking north from Flinders yacht club

Yaringa Boat Harbour by Richard Lawless

Not sure of this boat’s history but she would have a lot of stories from the past. Would love to see her floating again.

‘Please don’t drop her’. Me, slightly worried.

Yaringa boat harbour is tucked out of the way in NW Westernport Bay. It’s a quiet, relaxed place surrounded by incredible bird life. Heart of Gold spent a couple of months there on the hard and in the water as we finished her fit out and began sailing again.

Australian White Ibis off to feed at sunrise. Yaringa Boat Harbour sits on the edge of Yaringa Marine National Park. Over 295 bird species have been spotted here.

Dad, finalising the fitout. Once Heart of Gold was launched we had to tension the stays and get the mast straight, attach the boom and fit the sails.

Black Shouldered Kite

Yaringa channel leading out to the bay. Heart of Gold could still exit at low tide when the depth was around 2 metres or less.

Some marinas can feel stuffy and uptight, not Yaringa.

Creative practicality

Creative practicality

‘Confidante’ - A Camper and Nicholson 35

Common starling & Eastern Rosellas. Parts of Westernport Bay are listed as a wetland of International significance under the RAMSAR convention. Yaringa Marine National Park protects feeding areas for 27 internationally important migratory bird species.

After leaving Yaringa, Rob singlehanded his Westsail 28 ‘Sans Pareil’ across the Tasman to New Zealand. Currently headed for the Pacific. You can follow his voyage here: https://www.facebook.com/Westsail28/

Pacific Gull

My partner Lu had never sailed before. Here she steers on one of our first trips.

At the helm with Dad

Heart of Gold relaunched! by Richard Lawless

After 7 long years out of the water, Heart of Gold is finally floating again. On the 19th March 2019 she was relaunched at Yaringa Boat Harbour in the Northwestern corner of Westernport Bay. A huge milestone after a long stint on the hardstand, where a coat of paint and a few small jobs turned into nearly a full refit. We’ll be sailing around Westernport Bay over the next few months before venturing further afield.

A huge thanks to Dad for his patience, skill and attention to detail. There were many times when I was ready to settle with ‘that’s good enough’ and dad would convince me it would be worth doing properly. Not to mention the many months of work and research he put into motors, bilge systems, 12V electrical systems, etc, etc. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve completed and looking forward to learning how to sail again :)

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