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Old 24-12-2012, 11:34   #1
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Negotiating Lobster Pots and Fishing Nets around Portland in Victoria

Hello Cruisers,

I am about to travel from Melbourne to Adelaide in January.

The planning is going well, however I have been warned of a large number of lobster pots (over 900) and fishing nets around Portland in Victoria. The Australian Pilot Volume II also mentions fishing activity around the area as a hazard.

What I can not asscertain is how visible these sorts of hazards are, and the likely effect of striking them.

The boat is a Swanson 42, which has a skeg hung rudder, so I assume it has a chance of pushing a net down under the keel, but I would appreciate any advice on what is likely to happen if I hit one of these nets, and how easy they are to spot if keeping a good watch.

Also, I a bit confused about the lobster pot warning as I thought they sat on the bottom, or is it the line for the pot that is likely to be the problem?

Thank you,

Matt
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Old 24-12-2012, 11:41   #2
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Re: Negotiating Lobster Pots and Fishing Nets around Portland in Victoria

* Yes, it is the line that gets caught.

* Helps tremendously to be sailing rather than motoring.

* There is not much you can do.

* Most of the lines will simply float past the boat, probably unnoticed at night.

* When you pull up the lobsters, and if you are not too mad at the fisherman, replace the lobsters with an equivalent bottle of booze.
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Old 24-12-2012, 11:57   #3
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Re: Negotiating Lobster Pots and Fishing Nets around Portland in Victoria

Well, pity for the lobster fisherman that I am sailing East to West, the better bottles come from the West, but I may be biased.
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Old 24-12-2012, 12:27   #4
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Re: Negotiating Lobster Pots and Fishing Nets around Portland in Victoria

I'm not sure if Australian lobster buoys are the same as Nova Scotia buoys, but I thought i'd reply anyway. Lobster season around here is open for 2 months in each district, and crab fishing takes place over a longer season. in lobster season, there many areas that have many thousands of traps set within a few miles. It is an obstacle course to get through them.

Some fishermen use sinking rope, but the cheap stuff floats. If they are polite (and wish to lower the risk of fouling someone's prop and losing the trap) they will shorten rope as they move to shallow water, but many don't. So when you see a bouy, you should expect that there is 25 to 50 feet of rope floating on the surface, upwind of the buoy.

My boat has a fin keel and a spade rudder which is about 1 ft shorter than the keel. I can generally cross over a rope in the perpendicular direction, and it will be pushed down by the keel and clear the rudder. But crossing near parallel is more problematic - i'm less likely to hit a rope but if i do it is more likely to foul. If prop is not turning, lines may foul on the prop blades or (worse) in the space between rudder and hull.

You really don't want to foul while motoring, it is a terrible mess. I hate motoring at night, you really have to keep watch.

As per the previous post, sailing is preferable. Keep the prop locked (on my boat, put tranmission in reverse gear) to prevent wrap. If you foul, you can usually drop sail and use a boat hook to hoist the line, and cut it in half. The ends of the line will usually pull free (unless you were motoring).

When this has happened, i have always tied the ends of the line together to save their trap (although once i dragged a trap 2 miles, who knows if the owner found it). I have to say though, i don't have a lot of sympathy for those who leave long tails of cheap floating line across the surface to foul boaters, that's lazy and inconsiderate.
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