The annual WBA weekend away was in Paynesville this year. It was a weekend packed with activity both on and off the water. There were 17 WBA members who participated, with six boats owned by members hitting the water.
First to arrive on Tuesday were Gary and Anne Hardy with their Core Sound 17 and Blue Heeler “Ozzie”. Ozzie preferred to stay in the comfort of a pet friendly house at Eagle Bay. Jim and Penny arrived on Wednesday with their Drascombe Lugger and settled in at Allawah. So did David and Margaret O’Dempsey with their Welsford designed Rifleman runabout, setting up camp at Allawah in the comfort of their tent.
Meanwhile, the Hardys enjoyed a gentle sail and discovered that Eagle Bay was a bit further from Paynesville by water than they had expected! Geoff Carroll and his daughter Claire arrived on Thursday with the wonderful Kibbee looking as stunning as ever.
This group of boats and their crews had a brilliant sail/motor on Thursday in the best weather for the whole weekend. After a morning of very light winds, they travelled in company from Paynesville to Metung for lunch. The O’Dempseys went “fishing”, or so they said, as there was no piscatorial evidence to support their story. (Ed. note – nothing fishy about this story!). The Carrolls headed back after lunch and the sailboats continued on towards Nungerner in fresher conditions. There was some spirited fast sailing back across Lake King in a brisk sea breeze. Upon its return, Kibbee was, however, a bit naughty at the mooring, and poor Geoff got an early bath – as did his phone!
On Friday morning as the weather deteriorated, some members went to see Bill Jones in his workshop in Bruthen, some walked around the shores of Paynesville checking out the shops, while others walked the Foreshore Track between Paynesville and Eagle Point. Along the track, misleadingly close to shore, are the five wooden posts that comprised the Eagle Bay Compass Piles, also known as a swinging or compass adjusting station, which enabled ships’ captains to correct their compasses to allow for magnetic deviation, a reminder of the days when the Gippsland Lakes teemed with vessels.
Kerrin and I arrived in Paynesville with our Mirror dinghy on Friday afternoon, closely followed by Brian Flewell- Smith towing his newly built and yet to be launched Tango 12, outboard powered, dinghy. Andrew and Hahn Campbell had planned to bring their mini tug Mars to Paynesville but made the trip without a boat due to damage incurred from an incident with a wake boat on the Murray a couple of weeks earlier.
Friday night at the Paynesville pub saw our whole group together for the first time. David and Jan Gibson, long term members who now live on Raymond Island joined us for dinner along with Bill Jones, Peter Medling and Sallyanne Barclay. Peter brought us up to date with the preparations for the Paynesville Classic Boat Rally 28 Feb – 1st Mar 2020. They expect 400 boats to register in what will be a busy – and crowded – event.
On Saturday morning Brian launched his Tango 12 for the first time with the attendant libations of fizzy liquid and a crowd of onlookers.There were the usual learning experiences – in this case balancing the boat when sitting in the stern to start the new Honda 4 horse outboard motor (and remembering to turn on the petrol tap) - but Brian was on his way down the Paynesville canals before long and was pleased with the boat’s performance.
The Tango 12 is designed by an American, Hank Bravo. Brian built the boat over 3 weeks at the Wooden Boat School in Franklin, Tasmania, starting the project a year ago. The sanding, painting and finishing took place back at home in Geelong.
Saturday soon descended into a day of gale force winds. Boating and tenting were out of the question for the rest of the day - The O’Dempseys later packed their tent and went home - but there was still plenty to keep us occupied. David Gibson, who is on the committee of the Paynesville Maritime Museum arranged for a special opening of the museum for WBA members. The museum is crammed with exhibits including working models and activities for school visits. They are expanding their premises into an adjoining space which will allow more items to be brought out of storage and put on display.
From the Maritime Museum we took a short drive to the home of Colin and Jan Hunt for a look at his boat collection and current boatbuilding project – a Weekender Trailer Sailer. Colin is a founding life member of the WBA and had a wealth of items to show us and stories to tell in his amazingly neat and tidy workshop. Colin is also a skilled musician and he showed us his collection of musical instruments including a wooden “reverie harp”.
On Saturday night the WBA had a table booked for the Curlip fundraising Trivia Night at the Paynesville Motor Cruiser Club. The restoration of the paddle steamer Curlip is progressing with community support enabling the employment of professional boatbuilders.
After a buffet dinner we were deeply immersed in the serious business of dragging arcane facts from aging memories. The onslaught of trivia questions was relieved with breaks for charity auctions of all manner of donated items from Collingwood football jumpers to a caulking mallet. The crowd expected that the WBA would be a certainty to buy the caulking mallet but our response was “we’ve already got one”. The auctioneer, Adam Bloom, joined our team to help us with some of the trivia challenges and paid for our bonus round.
At the end of the trivia proceedings there was a tense standoff as the WBA team (Table 7) had achieved equal first place with Table 13. The tie was to be resolved with a “Who am I?” question which we guessed correctly to make us the winners! The out of towners winning the competition was a bit like the foreign horses winning the Melbourne Cup, but they were very gracious about our success and we showed our gratitude to Adam Bloom by giving him the lucky door prizes and raffle prizes won by Penny. Our local WBA members, the Hunts and the Gibsons also gained from the evening (although they did not compete) as we donated to them the First Prize of a $100 dinner voucher at the Motor Cruiser Club.
On Sunday morning we were given a guided tour of the Curlip by Gary Plumley and Robert Taylor from the Curlip restoration group. They have removed the planks which were affected by teredo worm and replaced most of them. Once the planking, fastening and caulking has been completed by professional shipwrights in order to satisfy survey requirements, volunteers will be able to get in there and start sanding, painting and preparing for relaunch.
Gary Plumley told us of the big plans they have for the vessel once it is back in operation. There are a range of possible tours planned as well as youth training activities and catering business ideas. All going to plan, the vessel could be in the water and operating some time next year.
(Picture on the left shows a section of the Teredo Worm infestation from “Curlip”)
On Sunday afternoon Jim and Penny headed off into Newlands Arm in the Drascombe Lugger to try different sail settings and rig combinations. Andrew Campbell bravely offered to crew for me in my Mirror Dinghy as we set off to follow Jim and Penny through the canals and along McMillan Strait into more open water. In the gusty enclosed waters we scooped a fair amount of lake water into the cockpit a couple of times but avoided capsize. Andrew’s highly motivated skill with the bailing bucket was of great assistance.
I have never been able work out how the wind can be on the nose heading out for the day’s sail and have us also tacking into the wind on the way back. Andrew deserves a crewing award for hauling the jib from one side to the other all afternoon. I didn’t keep count, but I would not be surprised if we made 50 tacks. During our trip we made a rest and relief stop on the beach in Dawson Cove at the entrance to Newlands Arm, then sailed over to the beach outside David and Jan Gibson’s house on Raymond Island. David and Jan graciously welcomed us into their beautiful new home in our wet sailing gear. We also had a look at David’s current boatbuilding project, a 17ft strip plank kayak that needs a deck and a coat of glass to be in the water. (I could be over-simplifying).
On Sunday evening all of us got together for a barbeque at Allawah C.P. in Jim and Penny’s cabin. It was great to review the events of the weekend and share our stories of mishaps and achievements both on and off the water. Kerrin’s door prize from the Trivia night was opened and pronounced ‘excellent’ by all who tasted it.
Brian wanted to give his new boat a last spin on Monday morning before heading home. Jim volunteered to balance the boat in the bow seat and see if the boat would plane. Once out in the open water Brian opened up the throttle and had the boat planing at an estimated 12 knots with spray flying on either side. Unfortunately putting the foot flat to the floor used up the last of the fuel in the tank and things came to a quiet stop in the Strait outside the pub. Jim walked back to Allawah for a can of fuel and after motoring back with a refreshed tank, that was the end of boating for our 2019 weekend away. All of us were home for Monday evening.
Another great WBA adventure. Report by Leigh McNulty