"I'll have to get one too", I recall saying as the Canberra Hobie dealer was demonstrating the boat to my mate Mike. We were on a motorcycling weekend into the Australian Alps and Mike had arranged for a demonstration sail on Lake Jindabyne in New South Wales. I had been a sailer years back but had since raised a family, got into other pursuits such as flying and motor boating, and thought my sailing days were done. It is not hard to fall in love with these little tri-s, with their natty innovations and versatility. Before I knew it I was committed and had forked over the bucks. My only concern was sun exposure but Mike reassured me that with the dodgers we ordered with the boats such an issue would be non-existent.
The boats were delivered but unfortunately I had flu but that did not stop Mike from setting a sail. No time for dodger fitting etc, he just had to hit the water of the Gippsland Lakes that is apparently one of the largest bodies of inland waters in the Southern Hemisphere. It is over 100 ks long and five kilometers wide. It is just inside and running along the coastline of Bass Strait which can be a wild body of water at times.
He apparently had a wonderful day in 10 knots of breeze, and though he has not sailed in the past, he had no problems in any direction. Mike forgot it was summer and fooled by the cooling sea breezes, it was not till he got home that he found his legs had been severely burned, which caused an enforced week off. By that time my virus had all but gone and we decided last Saturday would be the day for a bit of a shake-down cruise from the Port of Paynesville, to who-knows-where. Mike's boat is on a trailer with the Hobie trailer supports fitted, cause he was an Officer before he retired and can afford such luxuries, while I had mine on roof racks as I was merely a foot soldier, and always hard pressed for cash.
Mike helped me lift my boat off the car, and then went to attend to the launch of his own. It only took me 10 minutes to get rigged, it took Mike much longer to launch his ship, but then you must remember he was an Officer.
Eventually we got going and though I have sailing history and he has none, we found the boats were about the same speed everywhere we went together. We initially sailed on a bit of a reach and found we were staying with and I dare say faster than a Sabre monohull sailing dinghy that was out enjoying the breeze. Both of us had our dodgers on, which provided some relief from the harsh Australian sun, as well as the spray whipped by 15 knots of southerly winds. Not long before it was decided to beat to windward across the Lake to a beautiful protected hamlet known as Ocean Grange. To get there we had to stay with a marked channel which narrows as it gets closer to the other side which caused lots of tacking duels along the way. Great fun and we finally made it. You will see from the photos that it is very protected from the wind there and quite remote though there are houses that the occupants can only get to by boat, which is about a 30 minute journey by power boat. It took us an hour or so. Mine is the red boat that took in a bit of water on the way across whilst Mikes remained bone dry. I did have a 4 mm bow-line attached to the bow and stowed below so I am assuming the water got in via the front hatch where the light rope distorted the rubber seal. That is why my hatch is left open in the photo.
We stayed over there a half hour eating fruit and muesli bars, then ventured back via a different route. This took us along a very shallow channel that most boats cannot use, but with dagger board stowed, and rudder lock unclipped, we were able to navigate the channel and across and area known as Carstairs Bank which as claimed the pride of many a sailor that has gone aground there. We slipped effortlessly across weed beds with no more than a foot of water below us, and caught glimpses of fish as well as passing groups swans and waterfowl that feed in that area. I am thinking it might prove to be a valuable fishing grounds in the shallow draught AI in the future. The run home was delightful and the two boats attracted more than a little interest along the way. No sun-burn to record, and had a most delightful day out on the Gippsland Lakes. I thought I would share this first 'adventure' that Mike and I enjoyed together with you in preparation for many many adventures to come. Our first more substantial endeavor will be to sail, peddle and paddle the entire Gippsland Lakes in its entirety . If you would like we will become more serious in our photo taking, rather than a few pics taken using the mobile phone in-built camera....What a great little boat in which to embark on adventures. Bravo Mr. Hobie...Captain Pirate