The planned South West Cruise to Werribee South on Saturday, 21 November, was cancelled due to strong wind warnings. So on Sunday 22nd November, for the second time Rufus pointed her bow sprit to the southwest on a course for the mouth of the Werribee River. This time there was no strong northerly to push us along like last year so the iron mainsail had to do the job with the wind on the bow all the way. After a pleasant couple of hours, we made landfall off the river mouth and motored in to be greeted by Chris Kelly, David Stott and others who had come over land. Shortly after Jill and I tied up and made Rufus fast, Jim and Penny and Peter and Will Batchelor arrived in their boats after an up river cruise.

It was a small but happy group that gathered for lunch in the shade. A pleasant time chatting and catching up was had by all. Of great interest were the delicious cakes passed around during lunch. It would seem that boating and baking go together hand in glove. Gathered for lunch were Chris and Sue Kelly, David and Jenny Stott, Jim Stockton and Penny Braybrook, Peter and Will Batchelor, Graham Signorini and Jill and Geoff Carroll. The weather was great with plenty of sun and sufficient wind to for an enjoyable sail.

After lunch, Jim and Penny sailed out to try their new rig in the good conditions. As the afternoon wore on both the other boats were pulled out and packed up and finally Jill and I waved everyone off as we were to spend the night on board Rufus before returning home in the morning. Late in the day, there was a pleasant surprise to see Andrew Cohen and friend, Ros, drop in to see how things were going as they were en route to another event.

The overnight stay on Rufus helped Jill and myself work out some of the necessary procedures and practices for living aboard. Fortunately I had made a sun shade material curtain for the cabin hatchway to keep out the mosquitoes but eventually found it was very effective in keeping out the cooler night breezes as well. From the cockpit we watched a stunning sunset before retiring below. All systems worked well on this occasion. Monday morning was a different kettle of fish with passing showers and what appeared to be a rising wind. So after breakfast we made ready to sail and set off for St Kilda.

It wasn’t long before the wind started to die and we found ourselves making slightly less that 2 knots so it was on with the iron mains’l. After a short while I noticed that the stream from the cooling water outlet had diminished to a dribble. So it was a case of haul the engine out of the well to check the intakes only to find them both clear. Rufus was rolling quite heavily in the waves that had built up from the winds and in reconnecting the electrics I managed to cross the wires. So no starter motor, oops! This necessitated careful disassembly of the starting assembly so that I could pull start the engine. Of course, there was much consultation of the manual, swearing at its brevity and lack of detail and finally a good dose of luck as the engine fired up at the second pull.

Now followed an anxious hour or so, as we motored across Altona Bay and on to St Kilda. Then about 50 metres from the marina mouth the engine cut out and we were drifting towards the beach! A quick call to 000 and the water police were on the way. Meanwhile we sat at anchor in bright sunshine looking into the entrance of the Marina 100 metres away with the Coastguard in full view. Except they are not there on Mondays!

The police boat was bigger than Rufus but towed us into our berth very gently. The police themselves were very helpful and a cheery bunch as well. Once berthed they did the check of gear as required and departed happily, leaving Jill and myself to pack up, put covers on and leave Rufus to herself for the night. Both Jill and I were exhausted after the day’s events.

Lessons we learned:

  • Always bring cakes to WBA sailing days.
  • Avoid connecting electrical wiring after the locker lid has come down on your head.
  • If you lose the engine and there is no wind, the anchor helps.
  • Take plenty to read if staying aboard over night.
  • Arrange to have a day’s respite between days spent voyaging
  • Jill’s cushions for the berths are super comfortable.

Geoff Carroll