It was time for another visit to Rottnest Island, which was decided on the drop of a hat, a quick stock up of essentials such as Beer and Whiskey and we were on our way 🙂
Checking the wind on windy.com we decided to head out nice and early for a stiff 20Kt breeze giving us a nice broad-reach to Rottnest. A quick coffee on route and a lot of faffing around saw us heading off later than expected at around 8.30AM, although it made little difference as predictably the wind report was totally wrong and we had a mere flutter of a sparrows wing on our stern, so the engine stayed on and motoring to Rottnest was in hand.
Better late than never, as we were approaching Rottnest, the wind picks up and we manage to sail the last couple of miles up to the the channel entrance for Longreach Bay. The channel is relatively narrow, with shallow fringing reefs either side, which is made narrower by the almost predictable sight of lobster pots and floats running down either side of the channel.
The last time we had been here, Longreach was a peaceful bay with a handful of boats moored and anchored, allowing lots a privacy and a quiet atmosphere of tranquility, well forget that. As we rounded the headland, our mouths just dropped in amazement at the sheer amount of boats packed into this small bay, a later count came in at over 80! It was so jammed that a well versed Parkour athlete could go from one end of the bay to the other without touching the water!
With Astro-0 nestled in on her mooring amidst the host of million dollar mega motor yachts, we felt quite small in our 34′ Mono and we both concluded that we had made a serious error in judgement coming whilst the kids were still on school holidays. Anyway, with such a prestigious start, things could only surely get better……..
As we sat down for a relaxing beer to celebrate a safe passage, our nearest neighbour a 60ft, 3 storey Gin Palace cranked up his 1000W sound system and the mayhem began. With all that din, it was time to launch our tiny, but trusty tender, which Trevor had christened Cedric. Being so small (2.3M) it is easy to inflate and with only a 2.3HP Motor, it’s nice and easy to set up and get going. Trevor, who has always been very dubious of our tender, decided to ride the first run to the island out and stay on the mother ship – In hindsight a very wise decision on his behalf. The motor cranked first time and I was off and although the motor was running a little rough, in due time I was ashore and relaxing on the beach watching the local wildlife, know colloquially as ‘Bogans’.
After a pleasant bit of sun baking it was time to head back and with a quick yank of the starter I was off and running again, although the engine was now running worryingly badly. Just as I made it along side Astro, it gave up the ghost and died. Unfortunately, with a stiff offshore breeze I was too far away and started drifting past and out towards the channel and open sea. A frantic few yanks to get it started confirmed my fears that it was going to be one of those days, but luckily I had had the foresight to throw the oars in, although 5 minutes of frantic rowing into the building head wind was only keeping me stationary, when a fellow sailor took pity on me and came out and towed me back – Bless him 🙂
During all this Trev had sat and watched with a slightly bemused and smug look on his face and even had the time to have a chat on the phone with his Mrs – That’s mates for you. After several beers to calm the nerves and a not so quiet evening with some hard core drum & bass our neighbour at least had the decency to tone it down as the bells chimed 10 O’clock and it was off to sleep for us.
The next day, we decided to take fate into our own hands and take Cedric out for a run and onto the island. We were pretty certain that the issue was just bad fuel and a slightly blocked carby – We had in our slackness not replaced the petrol in our portable canister which was several months old, so we figured that if we kept the revs high we should be able to make it onto the island. Although the engine ran like a one legged blind-man and cut out a couple of times, we eventually made to the island and gave no end of early morning amusement to the other boaters on the way in, who I am sure were taking bets on whether we would make it or not.
After a very unpleasant 2K walk into town on scorching tarmac in 38 degrees heat – I had left my flip flops on the boat and there was no way I was going back out in that tender just yet to get them – We finally arrived in the small town center, scored some cheap flip flops and tucked into a delicious breakfast and even had one of the locals pop in for a snack with us………
“Quokka” A small friendly marsupial found only in this part of the world.
Rottnest is a beautiful island with fantastic hard coral fringed beaches with great snorkeling and plenty of lobsters if you have pots. Unfortunately, school holidays is definitely not the time to visit. On top of all the boaters that come out, along with the crowds of people staying in chalets there is the the horde of day trippers who come out on the multiple ferries a day from the mainland, to say the island was packed is an understatement, we couldn’t even get into the bar for a few ciders it was that busy!
As we approached the stairs leading back down to Longreach bay, I noticed our tender looking a little odd and as we got a bit closer I mentioned to Trev that our tender looked like it had got a puncture, with his reply, Nah Mate, it looks fine to me, your seeing things. At this point I had to point out that he was looking at another tender on the beach which was considerably bigger and flasher and ours was the one next to it! So to add tender insult to injury, Cedric had decided that he had had enough of life and decided to commit Hara-Kiri by literally coming apart at the seems – The bonding glue had failed in the high temperatures and Cedric was no more.
That about sums up our Rottnest trip and the next day we left with our tail between our legs and made a long but an uneventful trip back to to the pen, but with some valuable lessons learned.