You may have noticed a bit of activity on the Inlet recently- with new No Boating signage and the moving of some markers on the water. Its the result of Gippsland Ports modifying the Vessel Operating Zone Restrictions that apply for the Inlet. From time to time, the Operating Zones are reviewed in light of the changing dynamics of the waterway. The last review was about three years ago, and lets face it, the Inlet has dramatically changed in that time!
So what does it mean for Windsurfing on the Inlet?
Well, it does make some areas a bit more difficult to access but generally we aren’t too badly affected. The amazing amount of sand movement has probably reduced the amount of sailable water, but there still plenty of fun to be had!
In this post, we’ll focus on the beaches to the east of the town- the Angling Club and The Rotunda. Further east we have Area 45 but there have been no changes to this spot.
Lets start with the Angling Club.
As you stand on the dune from the carpark you’ll notice a Red Marker on the water out towards Point Smythe. To your right, if you look up on the dune you’ll see a sign post. If you drew an imaginary line between the sign post and the Red Marker, you’d have the Eastern boundary of the No Boating Zone. This zone extends West from the Angling Club to just near the Rotunda. Basically this is a no go zone for us. We are considered to be a vessel and so we aren’t allowed to enter this zone except for in an emergency. This might pose a few problems for those who like to run the inside bank on a South Westerly, as there is very little room for gybing at the Western end of the run.
For beginners, the area to the East of the Red Marker is perfect for learning. Just remember that there is a 5 knot rule that extends 200 metres from the shore.
Now onto the Rotunda
If you are standing near the Walkway, you will notice a sign post to your left. If you look out on the the water you will see a Red Marker. An imaginary line between the sign and the Red Marker denotes the start of the No Boating Zone which extends East towards the Angling Club. The area to the West (e.g. towards the pier) is open to vessels, meaning we can sail there at 5 knots until 200 metres out, then unrestricted once we are on the middle bank.
On a South Westerly, its a close haul to get out to the middle bank on a starboard tack but you can launch up closer towards the pier to improve your angle. Theres a small sandbank right on the edge of the No Boating Zone, so once you are out there, its easy to pull up before the No Boating Zone and do the world famous “Inverloch Step Gybe”!
I guess it comes down to common sense- which is something we all have in abundance…Windsurfing has a history of over thirty years on the Inlet…and a minuscule rate of incidents or accidents. Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the respect we have for our surroundings and the courtesy we give to other water users. We may not be in their sights but the Water Authorities have indicated that they will be enforcing these Zones over Summer, and whilst the Operating Zones aren’t primarily designed for us, we do need to try to observe them as much as we can.
If you come across an area which you are unsure of the Zoning, or if you find a section that poses a specific problem for Windsurfing, please contact me (Mick – 0412 828 748) and Im happy to identify any areas which may need to be sent to Gippsland Ports for review.
cheers and big breezes,
Note: A PDF of The Angling Club and Rotunda Zoning is available Here (in PDF)