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Peter Breevoort Weblog - 


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+ 28 - 16 | § shark bay

Dirk Hartog in 1606 was the first European to set foot on the west Australian coast, he was certainly not as impressed as I was. He found it to be hot, bare and full of horrible little flies, some years later Willem De Vlaminck passed the same judgement and sailed on, but not after having named Dorre island; dorre meaning ‘bare’. It was Dorre island we set sail for in Tickled Purple, a 25 foot Farrier trimaran.

After having stocked up with lots of nibbles and booze we pottered off 30 nm east with a gentle S.Westerly. The autopilot did most the work and before we knew it we were mooring in Disaster Cove

. The wind and waves had made sculptures of the limestone crags and the red, white, and bright yellow dunes contrasting the deep blue seas and sky displayed many a national flag, we picked some oysters and snorkled a rocky pool with gentle streams and waterfalls cascading into it. Underneath the surface, where waves cease to threaten and  water becomes a warm womb, multicoloured sea-life dotted with fluorescent spots darted through equally multicoloured and sensationally shaped coral. One of the fish lost the Darwinian race and was quickly speared for sunset dinner.

Heading south early morning in a gentle breeze, alongside the spectacular red cliffs and yellow patches we threw out a line and dragged it along at 5 knots. Barely 5 minutes later the rod tugged, we lowered sail and hauled in  line, after a bit of a struggle we pulled in what seemed to me to be the mother of all Spanish Mackerels, surely 20 k’s of it. This turned out to be a bit of a problem, for due to lack of freezing facility and a reluctance to waste resources we were forced to have fish soup, fried fish, baked, cooked, bbq’ed, boiled fish, fish pasta, stir fried fish and broiled fish balls in the course of the next few days. In the meanwhile the gentle breeze had degraded into the absence of  wind whatsoever. Floating in open water between Dorre and Dirk Hartog we decided to motor a little while and started the engine, which then dropped off.

Lenghts of rope and pulleys managed to –sort off-  keep it in place when the wind picked up and soon developed into a 30 knots storm. But not before we had anchored in Whitnell  point. We had ample time to recon the bay for the winds did not relent for two days, keeping us firmly anchored and busy improvising a makeshift engine-bracket using hardwood we had found on shore. The lack of saw was a minor problem we managed to solve by drilling lots of holes in the wood and then breaking it. Ropes and nails did the rest of the trick. Once again fully powered we set of for Quin Bluff  on Dirk Hartog island, jibing and pushing against headwind, even the relentless Australian sun proved futile against the salty spray and cooling breeze and we donned heavy duty sail coats.  Mooring at sunset, we saw  massive white sand dunes on the horizon under the dark and brooding sky, with streaks of red, and a bright orange sash… A lonely lamb bleated for its mother.

Three days of storm had whipped up the shallow water of Shark Bay  and made the 20 nm sail to the Denham peninsula more than choppy. Towards the shore the winds and the waves had died down and we were gliding above fluorescent green patches, the colour of early day computer screens or mobile phones. A huge ray shot past, a bate ball vibrated happily on the right and we jibbed slowly along the grey-green shrub-dotted bright yellow dunes with patches of rust red dissecting here and there, looking for the entrance to Big Lagoon.

Big Lagoon is a…well.. a big lagoon, meandering for miles inland, edged by the now familiar but ceaselessly magnificent red and yellow dunes. There was a profound tranquillity, an overwhelming beauty. We climbed a dune, snorkled a bit, washed with salt water shampoo, had another fish curry and sucked on mugs of red wine, having the endless conversation that an abundance of bright starry sky seems to induce.

On the way out, next morning, just after the shallows and along the coast heading North, a South Easterly picked up and shot us into 16 knots, turning into an easy 12 or 13 knots only to die off completely, forcing us to motor around Cape Perron. A shark circled close, another bate ball on the right, rays and a flock of smelly birds on the shoreline beachfront polluting the air. Perron is the epitome of rust red sand cliffs, it doesn’t get much redder than this and the fine sand cut through the rocky cliff flowing down through it like an hourglass. Hoisting the spinnaker we barely managed to do 5 knots South past Gouchenault point heading for Monkey Mia.

The blazing sun and reflecting water played tricks on our perception and we saw massive islands where there clearly could not be one and we saw 12 sails and Monkey Mia, before we reasonably could, and there should only be 4 sails ahead.

Monkey Mia then, after a week of solitude and uncultivated sea and landscapes, is a real metropole, and, best of all, there are massive juicy steaks to be had, with crispy chips and salad, and people, and a warm pure bore water hole, a shower, CIGARETTES and lots of dolphins. Two days of that though and the sirens of solitary sailing beckon and we head of North again, a gentle breeze taking us on flapping spinnaker back towards Cape Perron. We threw out a line again, and sure enough, after barely three minutes it tugged, and continued pulling and fighting for quite a while until we pulled in a large yellow fin tuna about 15 minutes later. The metal wire had wrapped around the tail and had been stripped to the final thread. It took some effort to clean the boat of blood and entrails, but then we dug out the wasabi and soy sauce to enjoy truly fresh sashimi.

Another gentle afternoon, a swim in shallow water, floating behind the boat tied by a rope. In complete calm, the light blue water faded into the hazy sky on the horizon. A completely alien experience, the hull of the boat reflecting perfectly in the mirror smooth water surface, some dolphins circled the boat, jumping up or racing ahead. Another night, and past Cape Perron we hit open waters, insofar that the ocean waves passing through the gap between Dorre and Dirk Hartog brought in swell and waves. With a S-Westerly behind us we tried to surf on the waves ridge and pick up speed, dunk in the shallow and ride another crest..