Noelex 30s for sale

Shark Bay Western Australia

John Percy

Bonanza NX1022

John sails ‘Bonanza’ N25 No. 1022, out of the The Cruising Yacht Club of WA which is in Rockingham 45km south of Perth. This is an account of his and Sue’s cruise in Shark Bay in April 2012.

Shark Bay lies on the extreme western coast of Australia around 26 degrees south latitude and around 113.5 east longitude. It is approximately 800km north of Perth. Shark Bay comprises two large, shallow embayments and numerous islands. Hemmed by Dirk Hartog, Bernier and Dorre Islands, the warm, sheltered waters average 9 metres deep and are beautifully patterned with seagrass meadows, channels and banks. They are fringed by tidal flats, mangrove communities or white shell beaches.

( click on photos for enlargement)

LocalityAfter spending a couple of days packing we finally set off from Rockingham on our trip to Shark Bay at 7.00am on 9th April. We stopped to check the pressure in the tyres and the bearings after 5 kms and to get some petrol and to our consternation, the front bearings were very hot. It was Easter Monday and we didn’t know what to do but after a few minutes I jumped on the iphone to describe the problem and immediately started to receive responses from Tez, INMA and BosunBob suggesting it might be the brakes which turned out to be the case.

I rang the mechanic at his home and he got us to call around and he tried to fix the jammed brakes which it turns out he hadn’t touched. The cable was overtight and very rusty. We left again and same problem. Rang again and he arranged to meet us at his workshop with a new fitting which he had picked up from Repco. This time the problem was fixed and as you would expect, for no cost. He was quite embarassed and I think it’s probably the first and only time that will happen over Easter.

We eventually got going at 11.00am and of course, you can never make up the lost 4 hours. This was the first time we had towed the Noelex any distance but we didn’t have any issues after that. We went up through Perth and then up the newer coast road through Lancelin, Jurien and Cervantes before reaching the Brand Highway and on towards Geraldton. We stayed the night at the Railway Tavern in Northampton which was great because there was storage for the car and boat behind and out of sight. We had intended to camp on the boat further up the road but it got too late and we felt we deserved a drink and a meal.

We reached Denham at midday the next day and as I was preparing the mast for raising a couple approached to ask us how the bearings were. It turned out to be Terry and Christine from Sandpiper who had been following our trials on the forum. We exchanged numbers and he offered to give us a hand if we had any problems so it just goes to show how useful and far reaching TSP has become.

Rigging took quite a while because we usually leave the mast up at home but we finally settled off the beach at Denham. We had carried our new 8’ Portabote up inside Bonanza and we proceeded to unfold it and put it together in the cockpit. A family on the beach was quite amazed to see the Noelex appearing to give birth to the little tender as we slipped it over the side.

Sandhills at Tetrodon Loop

Sandhills at Tetrodon Loop

Easterlies were predicted for the next day and we set off a little late at 9.10am for Dirk Hartog Island and Tetrodon Loop. Mike (Jacana) had sent me lots of notes and maps with waypoints marked on them and these proved to be priceless over the course of the trip. Being relatively inexperienced at cruising, they gave us a lot of confidence and I can’t thank him enough. The breeze was ENE at about 10-15 knots so we raised the kite and had a lovely time of it until it petered out to nothing about halfway across. Conditions were glassy so we eventually started the motor which had been serviced to get rid of an annoying and dangerous problem of cutting out when the choke was pushed in. It turned out to still be a problem and meant that I had to be very careful about moving in and out of gear.
Tetrodon Loop

Tetrodon Loop

The Westerly came in belatedly and we decided to spend our first night at Notch Point. We sailed and motored into the western side which is more sheltered from the SE winds expected in the morning and found two Swarbrick Spacesailer 22s anchored there. We said hello to one couple who had a dog with them anchored just off the beach and went for a walk up through the scrub. At night we saw and heard heaps of little fish jumping. Shining a light on the surface seemed to bring little prawns around and the light from the Dolphin turned out to be the last thing they saw in many cases. Had a swim in the morning and then wandered around to have a look at Notch Point proper.

We decided to motor/sail around to Tetrodon Loop where we ended up spending 3 nights. It was idyllic as we motored up towards the shallows.Great-fishingWe had steak for dinner and saved some for bait the next day. I haven’t been fishing for many years but had cast out a bare hook to see if the reel was still working OK and nearly hooked a big blowfish, also known as a toadfish for good reason. We went ashore to climb the sand hills afterwards, I used some of the left over steak to hook and catch a couple of yellowfin bream which we had for dinner that night. Nothing like fresh fish even if you have to fillet them with a blunt knife.

We decided to go to South Passage the next day but we woke to a strong southerly blowing 15-20 knots and decided to stay put for the day. Went for a walk and Sue fell into the water getting from the tender to the ladder. We moved further south up the loop hoping to find calmer water but it didn’t make much difference as the shallows extend a long way out all around the southern and eastern sides of the loop.

Sunday Bay

Sunday Bay

We left for South Passage with the thought that we could instead head for Big Lagoon if the Southerly filled in. It didn’t and we sailed out towards Dirk Hartog homestead and Tumbledown Point. The wind petered out again and we ended up motoring close to DH Island to get to Sunday Bay. We had a bit of drama as Sue spotted a sandbank from the bow and the motor cut out as I tried to put it in reverse. No harm done but it’s really annoying not to be able to rely on the motor to behave consistently. It’s a Honda 15HP and being in the well, very hard to work on, especially for someone who doesn’t know much about it.

Sunset Sunday Bay

Sunset Sunday Bay

Anyway, we got into Sunday Bay OK to be greeted by a turtle and anchored at the southern end and went ashore for a walk and finally got some phone coverage on the Telstra network. At the top of the hill you can see pretty much all around up the west coast of the island and across to Steep Point which is the westernmost point of the Australian mainland. I managed to slip and cut my foot on a rock while relaunching the tender and this proved to be a pain for a few days as I couldn’t get it to close properly while I was still hopping around the boat and getting it wet.

The electric start was not working and the power was running out so I had a look to discover that the cable had come away from the motor. The cable had been catching on something as I lowered the motor and had been pulled loose. I reattached it and was very proud of myself when the electric start later worked and we managed to charge the battery again.IMG_7054

Blackspotted tuskfish

Blackspotted tuskfish

Next day we went to Gerritsen Cove in South Passage. This is a lovely little sandy cove with what appeared to be a lodge or resort built a little way back up the slope. We stayed on the boat at anchor where Sue read and I started fishing. I caught a couple of undersized bream and then a butterfish which I left on the line for a couple of minutes. It got taken by something big which broke off my light line so I found another piece of steak and attached that to the heavier duty handline with a wire trace. This got taken straightaway and I landed a blackspotted tuskfish, also I believe known as a bluebone. This made a lovely meal and certainly improved my status as a hunter/gatherer in the eyes of my wife.

We went ashore and were immediately approached by someone who turned out to be the freehold owner of the house. The message was that they had had things stolen and we were not to come above the high-water mark as it was private property. Fair enough but I should have asked him whether he thought my tender and motor would be safe from him if left on the beach. Anyway, we had a walk and later a swim. The Portabote had started to leak and when we got back to Bonanza, we discovered that one of the bolts had fallen out. I had been checking this but got a bit complacent and had forgotten to over the last couple of days. I fashioned a new washer out of a piece of leather and used a spare to fix it.

We were now out of wine, ice and a couple of other essentials so decided to return to Denham for reprovisioning. We set sail at 9.10am via Blind Passage with a light SE’ly blowing. Blind Passage curves around as you pass each channel marker and we were eventually able to hoist the spinnaker and Sue took over steering for a while. This was the first time she has been confident enough to steer with and get used to the kite. We had to drop the spinnaker once we turned past the North sand and reached towards the channel markers off Cape Bellefin. The wind dropped again and again we started the motor to reach Denham at 3.30pm. We were quite pleased to motor to put some more charge into the battery. We anchored and went ashore for a shower and then bought a burger and chips as you do when you have been roughing it for a few days. Back to the boat for dinner and to read and listen to the radio.

Running before a dying easterly

Running before a dying easterly

Mike had told me that there was water available at the service jetty but when I wandered up with 4 x 10 litre containers I was told by one of the commercial fishermen there that the tap was for commercial users only and that we had to fill up at the desalination plant on top of the hill. We had done this on the way in but now that our car and trailer were locked away in storage, it was impractical for us to do so. After some mutterings under his breath we were allowed to fill up using the hose his young crewman had earlier offered us. We had earlier asked at the service station and at the information bureau and the official answer was that you have to use the desal. Centre. I think the answer is that if you want to use the service jetty, make sure you do it when there are no fishing boats around. There are no signs up forbidding access to the tap but there is a slot for $1 coins which was broken. They must be fed up with backpackers using the facilities for free.

Sue had an earache which turned out to be an ongoing problem for the rest of the trip and beyond. She went to the Silver Chain nursing post but they wouldn’t syringe her ears.

Leaving Dehham for Big Lagoon

Leaving Dehham for Big Lagoon

Next day we went ashore to grab a coffee and then left at 9.15am for Big Lagoon before a 10 knot S/SE/SW breeze. Again we ran with the spinnaker up with Sue steering for much of the time before dropping it and the main to motor through the channel with just the jib up. Again, Mike’s waypoints were invaluable and we found the 2 Swarbricks anchored in Big Lagoon and they had been there for a couple of days after crossing from Notch Point. We initially anchored just off the beach but then moved further out into the channel for the night as the tide was going out. There seemed to be a current all the time we were there and it seemed to be going out all the time. The southerly was quite strong and I wonder whether a lot of water was being pushed into the lagoon and we were on the edge of where it was coming out again. We motored over in the tender to have a look at the camping area on the other side of the channel and then watched some kite surfers enjoying the breeze. I used to ride a sailboard and wouldn’t mind having a go.
Next day we went for a walk around the peninsula and found a disposable nappy washed up on the shore. It always amazes me that people who appear to enjoy being in the great outdoors are happy to toss rubbish over the side. It stayed windy all day and I caught a couple of bream and a black snapper which were all released because dinner was already organised.

Sunset off Denham

Sunset off Denham

Sue’s ears were still troubling her and we were both a bit windblown so decided to leave for Denham next morning in spite of there being a strong wind warning on the nose for later in the day. We motored out of the channel past the 2 Swarbrick 22s and by the time we hoisted sail with a reef in the main it was already blowing up to 20 knots. We took a long tack out on port because the wind was forecast to swing to the south west which it did to an extent. This helped us when we eventually went about but the seas were short and steep and it wasn’t an enjoyable sail for about 5 hours.

When we finally got back and ashore at Denham we were surprised to see the Swarbricks already up the ramp and packed up. They had motored straight into the southerly and had had a very uncomfortable ride for a couple of hours. They had also had a lot of trouble retrieving their boats because of the strong SW’ly. I arranged to pick up the car and trailer that day so that we could retrieve early in the morning when hopefully, the wind might have swung to the SE to make it a little easier. We spend an uncomfortable night at anchor and then motored towards the jetty. I initially tried to come alongside the jetty but the wind and waves pushed us away and into shallow water. I reversed back to try again but hadn’t shortened up on the painter so then had to worry about it fouling the propeller. We touched bottom but luckily I managed to get back out and try again. This time we headed straight for the end of the jetty for Sue to get a loop around the pylon and we were able to walk Bonanza around and onto the ramp side. After that, the retrieval went well and we went to have a hot breakfast before unrigging and getting ready for the trip home.

The trip back was uneventful although once we had got home and had a sleep, the next day I found a flattish tyre on the trailer. I had checked them all at every stop and they were OK so we were lucky in that respect. We had stopped at Greenough where I had tracked down a public weighbridge and for a cost of $16.50 found out that the loaded car weighed 2220kg and the boat and trailer weighed 2020kg. The boat had been stripped of some cushions and the two anchors and the spare wheels were in the car. Included in the boat were the motor (47kg), the portabote (22kg), the virtually empty fuel tank and some fenders and ropes and the portapotty.

Next year we'll add some shade

Next year we’ll add some shade

We had had a great holiday and felt that we had come a long way since first buying Bonanza. We always knew that we would run out of power without running the motor and that we would have to return to Denham at least once for ice and water, but next time we will make sure that we have some solar charging system and some shade for the hot days. We also decided to make it a rule that we would not set out in conditions that Sue would not be able to sail in on her own because if anything had happened to me on the beat back from Big Lagoon, she would have really been in trouble.

If you travel to or live in WA with a trailer sailer, you should make every effort to get to and sail in Shark Bay at least once.

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John
Noelex 25 #1022 “Bonanza”

Link to many more photos >>here<< (Picassa Web)