A call to the highly-recommended Lakes Diesel workshop had a mechanic on the boat in no time.
The problem was a massive crack in the exhaust header pipe, which consequently clogged the air cleaner with smoke, which then created even more black smoke as our poor motor gasped for air.
Anyway, all sorted.
(I'm still a bit concerned however, as it seems to be more of a design problem than anything else. The motor vibrates, as motors do, and a fixed exhaust gets shaken until it cracks. A job for an engineer further down the track I'm afraid.)
Once the work had been done, along with oil and filter changes to get some of the gunk flushed out, it was off for a test run into the shallowish but expansive channels of the Gippsland Lakes.
It's a unique area, with bushland down to the waters' edge, copious birdlife and much of the landscape designated as a nature reserve.
We had a wonderful reception from the locals at the Yacht Club, who gave us the warmest welcome and went out of their way to make us feel at home. Really great!
Paynesville is fantastic.
Another couple of nights passed, some beautiful weather, and it was time to head back to Lakes Entrance to see the mechanic and pay the bill. (Also, there were hot Northerly winds forecast and I was hankering to surf on the Ninety Mile Beach at Lakes.)
A few minor adventures (after a delicious sail across Lake King), once we were in the narrow channels. We ran gently aground on a couple of occasions, but just opened the throttle and pushed through the mud. No problems....we were on a mission to test the engine anyway! That big deep keel of ours wasn't designed for shallow lakes cruising, but it's certainly strong enough to plough across a soft bottom.
We started to settle into the rythm of the town, while I started haranguing our potential crew back in Geelong to help us with the next big crossing....the run around to Eden on the NSW coast. (Any takers out there? Anyone up for a little adventure?)
Meanwhile, Mary started to develop a nasty toothache, and luckily found her way into the only dentist in town. Who banned her from going anywhere for a week until the antibiotics did their job and he could remove the offending tooth.
So we're Lakes Locals for awhile, until the weather and dental gods smile on us again....It's not a bad life. We take the dinghy for a run to the local Fishermens' Club where there's hot showers, (not a bad way to start the day) and we have power and water on our dock, for $12 a night. Fresh seafood straight off the boats. And the pub, supermarket and bakery all less than a couple of minute's walk away. We could be doing worse!