Shark Bay June 2017:
Denham to L'Haridon Bight to Monkey Mia

Peter Kovesi
Welsford Navigator Whimbrel


Chris Robinson
Bay Raider 20 Gryphon

23rd June

The usual long drive up from Perth, but this time in driving rain. We try out the old nunnery in Northampton for accommodation. Basic but comfortable, though the hot water was not working. So we never got what was supposed to be our last shower for a week.

24th June: Denham to Big Lagoon

A busy day ahead. We depart Northampton at dawn getting to Denham by mid morning. We immediately set about loading the boats. This always takes much longer than you think it will, and then a bit more. We did have a plan to transfer one of our cars to Monkey Mia for our return but this idea is abandoned as time marches on.

Finally we are away and we set off northwards towards Big Lagoon on a comfortable run.

In the lagoon we set ourselves up on the western shore.

25th June: Big Lagoon to Broadhurst Bight

We reload our boats and head out through the channel. After an epic battle to escape the clutches of the incoming tide, we squeeze our way out and head north. Actually, Chris got out quite efficiently without much trouble at all. Me? Well, 101 tacks later we were finally heading north. The breeze gradually builds. Neither of us reefs, though perhaps we should have, giving an exhilarating ride up to Broadhurst Bight.

The bight provides excellent shelter thanks to the shallow sand banks offshore.

26th June: Broadhurst Bight to Herald Bight

Today is the day of the big hike around Cape Peron and then down into Herald Bight. We want to do this today because strong south easterlies are forecast for the following days.

We enjoy a very pleasant brisk southerly for our ride north, stopping for lunch at Bottle Bay.

Then we carry on and round the stunning red cliffs at Cape Peron.

Heading out past the Cape we find the conditions very lumpy over the shoals offshore. We tack back in and then spend all afternoon working our way against a moderate southerly down into Herald Bight. We arrive at our destination as the tide was going out. It made for pretty photos but we had a very long walk into the beach carrying our camping gear.

27th June

We woke to a strong breeze blowing from the south (as forecast) so today was going to be a lay day.

The boats were secure in the shallow, sheltered bay so we went for a walk up to the top of Herald Bluff for the views and to get some reception to pick up a forecast. People following my Spot Tracker started to send texts wondering how we were managing to carry our boats overland...

Traveling with a geologist was very interesting. The Bluff and Guichenalt Point would have been an important area for the Aboriginal inhabitants. Chris would immediately spot any stone that 'did not belong', these would be grinding stones. Fragments of bailer shells used for storing water and other goods could also be spotted once you got your eye in.

Back at camp we enjoy yet another slice of Jean Robinson's magnificent fruit cake. Every sailing expedition should include a good fruit cake in its provisioning list!

28th June: Herald Bight to Cape Rose

The morning starts off very windy again but by lunch it drops so we decide to strike camp and push on to Cape Rose.

We arrive quite late in almost no wind.

To call Cape Rose a cape is somewhat optimistic. Apart from some sandy shallows it provides next to no protection from the east. That night we got a lot of wind from the east. Sand piled up against our flattened and flogging tents. Sleep was impossible. A midnight relocation into a gully in the dunes provided some relief. Meanwhile our boats were horribly exposed, yanking violently against their anchors. Finally at about 3am Gryphon dragged her anchor ending up on the beach, fortunately clear of a rocky shelf not far to leeward. With the tide falling and the boat now sitting safely on the sand we were able to return to our tents to wait for daylight.

29th June: Cape Rose to Dubout Creek

With the wind now abated we had a leisurely morning waiting for the tide to float first Whimbrel, and then finally Gryphon, off the beach. We set off in a gentle breeze that lasted just long enough for us to cruise past Monkey Mia at which point it died completely. We resort to our outboards to make our way down to Dubout Creek.

The shore is covered in mangroves so we decide to sleep aboard our boats.

30th June: Dubout Creek to Nanga Peninsula

After a night that required three layers of clothing to be worn inside our sleeping bags we emerged to a beautiful sunrise.

An excursion into shore results in Gryphon being ensnared on a sand mound by the falling tide. Poor Chris, words could not describe his frustration. With a lovely north easterly now blowing Chris urged me to sail on ahead. Once freed by the tide he would motor down to catch up.

Well, the north easterly did not last long. By the time I reached Dubaut Point I was gently gliding over the shallows with my plates up.

The wind dropped out completely but the incoming tide was pulling me ever so gently towards my destination at a steady 3kmh. I was alone in the middle of a vast mirror. The isolation and silence complete. The beauty of the world around me was overwhelming. For a whole afternoon I sat in wonderment watching the shallows slide past as my little boat drifted into L'Haridon Bight. I was in a special time and place.

Finally Chris caught up and with the sun setting we hurriedly picked a section of beach to land on. It was the perfect anchorage for our boats but we were not so sure about our camping area. Possibly we were on another planet.

1st July: Nanga Peninsula to Monkey Mia

After an exceeding cold night on our planetary outpost we emerge to an extraordinary world.

It would have been nice to explore L'Haridon Bight further but we had time constraints and a front was approaching from the south west. So we load up and head off for our last run back up to Monkey Mia.

At the Monkey Mia ramp we pick up a ride to Denham from the local Fisheries Officers where we collect our cars and trailers.

All done! Time to head home. But wait, there's still a bit of fruit cake...

Back to Whimbrel's home page