Peel-Harvey Inlet Rally - December 2018

by Chris Robinson

This blog was prepared by James Bennett.

Following on from last year’s very successful rally it was decided that we would run the same format and hold the two day rally with the fleet based at Port Bouvard Sailing Club. The format permits OGA members to take part on either the Saturday or the Sunday, or both days and camp at PBYC taking advantage of the facilities at the sailing club (ie a warm shower, good toilets and a gas BBQ). This also means that heavier more sophisticated and comfortable camping gear can be used as it doesn’t have to be carried by the boats.

The program called for a 10am departure from the beach, however this was not possible due to a very busy boat ramp, so it wasn’t until almost 11am that the last boat left the beach and set sail.  

At the briefing, everyone was reminded that this was a social sail and not a race, and that we should look out for each other’s safety. It was agreed that with the wind already blowing reasonably hard from the south that we would sail south and find a beach for lunch. Paul Day from the schooner Waltzing Matilda suggested that we sail to the beach near his 5 acre block on the east coast of the Harvey Inlet. He assured us that there was a sand bar that created a small sheltered lagoon, albeit shallow making it easy to land even in a strong south-westerly wind.

The low tide had created a large area of very shallow water immediately to the south of the PBYC, however once this had been negotiated, the fleet set off sailing south into the breeze. It was good to see the faster boats looping back to let the smaller guys catch up. The sail south was interrupted by the news on the radio that Arapoa had capsized near the eastern shore line, fortunately Fala was close at hand and after several minutes the two Michaels had righted and bailed the boat out and were sailing again, albeit with a reef in the sail. Fortunately there were no further mishaps with the fleet and unlike the previous year no-one fell overboard from their boat!

Around 500m south of the science platform the ‘Schooner boys’ led the fleet into their hidden lagoon, the low tide meant that most of us were crushing crabs as we approached the shore line. The sand bar and the lagoon presented an iconic scene with a fleet of Pelicans swimming in a close formation synchronising their fishing efforts with coordinated lunges into a shoal of trapped fish, on the sand bar itself there were several Oyster Catchers and a group of crested terns loafing around.  Cornish Maid had to stand off and anchor in deeper water, however Andrew in Fala kindly brought Ryan and Misty ashore.

An old wheelbarrow was the marker for the path to Paul’s house through the seeming impenetrable Tea Trees, and after a safety briefing about tiger snakes we followed Paul down a sandy track to his plot of land and to his shed. From the outside the shed looked like any other large grey metal structure, but inside there was a different world. Exquisite drift wood furnishings were just the start, in one corner sat a fully equipped work bench with hand augers, bits, (some looked like they had fallen off an oil drilling ship), saws, hammers, clamps, wood shaves and other serious carpentry tools for working large and small pieces of wood. Elsewhere was a kitchen, a sleeping area, super soft looking sofas and various bikes and water toys. Chairs were found and we sat down under one of the large trees listening to Paul’s plans for the block. It was quite obvious to everyone listening that Paul and his friends are super special people with a classic ‘can do’ approach to life and any problems it might throw in the way. Waltzing Matilda’s crew are also involved with land yachting due to their long time links with the Gold Fields, a fascinating photo album was passed around the group containing pictures of land yachts. In amongst the pages were photographs of past and present land speed record holding land yachts.

All too soon it was time to take our leave of Paul’s company, and we set off back to the beach. We sincerely hope Pauls plans come good despite the complexities of complying with the numerous bush fire regulations. We threatened to re-visit him in next year to see how his house is progressing.

After a quick group photograph on the sand bar it was time to enjoy the fast reach north back to PBYC. The sea breeze was blowing around 15-18 knots, I think it is fair to say that we all had great fun in the sailing conditions.

Back at PBYC, everyone was busy making sure that the boats were secure for the night, setting up tents and preparing for dinner. A warm shower and a cold beer was the perfect finish to the day and start to the evening. Despite the wind we sat in front of the club house enjoying the evening and watching each other use various cooking and camping gadgets. Fala’s LED camping spotlight (complete with USB charging points) was a great help to everyone, especially to watch Cornish Maids set of collapsible silicon cooking pots in action!

The secret weapon for camping at PBYC is a decent set of ear plugs to block out the noise of the wind and rattling rigging. However no set of ear plugs were a match for the noise made by the fishermen who appeared very early on Sunday morning waking some of us with some choice (new to some) words that may or may not have had much to do with fishing or the state of the tide!

Those with coffee making facilities were the lucky ones, however no one could match the previous year’s very amusing coffee making demonstration by John Longley. After packing up our camping gear, it was time to get back onto the water.

Whimbrel and How Bazaar joined us for the Sunday sail and were already waiting for us on the water. The Schooner boys had said that they would be with us by 9am, however the wind which had been quite strong through the night was now rapidly dropping out, and it looked like they may be delayed. Despite this the wind was again forecast to be strong from the south making the planned sail to Mandurah Quays problematical, so after a short discussion it was agreed to sail south back down the Harvey Inlet before turning back around 12.30pm and calling in at the beach just to the south of the Port Bouvard boat ramps for lunch.

After a very slow start in light conditions the wind settled down and came it at a pleasant 10-12 knots from the south west. The Schooner boys finally made it and joined us for a while before peeling away near the Bouvard boat ramps to buy a coffee. There were no mishaps this time as we sailed south, and some boats had close interactions with a pod of dolphins. Most of the fleet managed to round the Science Platform in the strengthening sea breeze, before we turned north. The fast sail was led by Wee Birlinn with Jim obviously enjoying the broad reach. The beach was again characterised by a long shallow foreshore making it tricky for several boats to get close. However after a short wade through the mud, and running the gauntlet of the Blue Manna crabs, everyone gathered on the beach for a picnic lunch. The proximity of the Port Bouvard store was a welcome opportunity to buy a burger or a reviving coffee.

With PBYC only a mile away, it was a short downwind sail back to base, however as has occurred on previous weekends from this spot, the wind had risen quite dramatically during the lunch stop. It is quite difficult to assess the wind strength from the beach, despite this Fala and several other boats did reduce sail before setting off, but Arapaoa was caught out and capsized just offshore. Peter Kovesi in Whimbrel did a fine job of standing by and collecting various bits of flotsam as the two Michaels set about the now familiar job of bailing the boat out.  Wee Birlinn reduced sail, as did Kailani, and with only a jib and mizzen set, we were sailing downwind at 4-5 knots.  

The PBYC foreshore can present a challenge when the sea breeze is strong, however everyone made it back safely. Peter in Whimbrel again showed everyone how things are done by sailing downwind straight onto the pontoon at the boat ramp. The pontoon is completely exposed to the sea breeze with rocks to leeward. It was however great to see everyone lending a hand with each other’s boats as they came alongside the pontoon.

Over the weekend we traditionally award spot prizes to the participants for feats of skill, daring do or similar, the following boats were recognised. 

Arapaoa for the capsize on Saturday, however they are now on Jim Blacks “special” shortlist for the wooden spoon award for repeating this manoeuvre on the Sunday

Fala, the “gentleman’s” award of the weekend for acting as the ferry to those boats who couldn’t get close to the beach due to their draft.

Cornish Maid for the most number of camping gadgets

Waltzing Matilda was given a spot prize for being an outstanding host on the Saturday

Participating boats were as follows:

Whimbrel (Welsford Navigator)                                                 Peter Kovesi (Sunday)

Wee Birlinn (Oughtred Ness yawl)                                            Jim Black

Fala (Bay Raider 20)                                                                        Andrew Bochenek

Cornish Maid (Cornish Shrimper 17)                                         Ryan Secrest and Misty Sanderson

Arapaoa (Goat Island skiff)                                                          Michael Arthur and Michael Foster

How Bazaar (Scruffie Scintilla 24)                                              Geoff Vardy and Ted Smit (Sunday)

Waltzing Matilda (31ft Bolger folding schooner)                                 Paul Day, Bryan Cook and a friend

Kailani  (Bay Raider 20)                                                                  James and Belinda Bennett, Rachel Kerr (Sunday)                                                                  


Kailani recorded the following statistics for the weekend

Saturday; 17.3 n.miles sailed at an average speed of 4 knots and a top speed of 7.2 knots

Sunday; 10.6 n.miles sailed at an average speed of 3.5 knots and a top speed of 7 knots

Thanks to Peter Kovesi for the following sailing photographs, land based pics James Bennett

James Bennett

December 2018


Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda



Arapoa and dolphin

Arapoa and dolphin

How Bazar

How Bazar

Wee Birlinn

Wee Birlinn

Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda

Cornish Maid

Cornish Maid

On the sand bar

On the sand bar

Land yacht brochure

Land yacht brochure

Murray River Cruise - June 17 2018

by OGA of Western Australia

Contributed by James and Belinda Bennett with photos by Peter Kovesi and Dave Archer.

Despite the threat of bad weather later in the day from a fast approaching weather front, the first cruise on the winter calendar attracted 8 boats and over 17 crew.

The weather was perfect, sunny, with a midday high of 24 degrees and a strong-ish north easterly wind forecast. Eight boats launching one after the other at the Pinjarra ramp was a bit squeezy and did cause some congestion, making it necessary to raft up on the small jetty, to ease the situation those who had launched first were already away and idling midstream. 



The river level was good and running at about 1 knot after the recent rains, this combined with some overhanging trees and the strong wind made manoeuvring and turning in the narrow section of the river by the ramp quite tricky.

Once underway with the current under us, it was very pleasant to motor downstream with the engines running on a low murmur. Ducks and darters were caught unawares as our flotilla of 8 boats appeared unannounced around the numerous bends in the river. The Murray River on this section has some steep banks with fallen trees and shallow sections on the inside of the bends requiring the skippers and crew to keep a good look out.


Bruce the Chocolate Labrador on Precious Little was also keeping a good lookout, but somewhat more wistfully watching the passing water, trying to figure out how he could get in a quick swim and chase a duck or two.


Around 1kM downstream, a notice in a tree warned river users about a submerged rock around the next corner. This appeared to be marked with two green channel markers. It was interesting to see which side some of our fleet passed these mid-river marks, Chris R must have been undecided as he (gently) hit one mark fortunately with no damage other than embarrassment.

It was so quiet that conversation was possible between the boats as we motored onwards, so quiet in fact that everyone could hear what Rachel said when the engine on Ripple stopped and she headed into the river bank and the overhanging trees, again fortunately no damage to boat or crew.

The idea had been to motor to the same picnic spot we used 2 years previously, however about 200m short, Dave Archer spotted a really excellent looking sandy beach with a nice raised grassy knoll above it.  The beach was long enough to accommodate our 8 boats and there were no overhanging trees.


While the majority of boats had been motoring Whimbrel’s crew appeared to be on a mission to sail and row to the lunch spot, a feat they managed in good time, albeit with the current helping and a quick use of the gasoline topsail.



A very pleasant and sociable lunch was enjoyed, with some of us exploring the area nearby, which consisted of a series of dried channels that may occasionally flow with water during times of flood. The many trees and green grass gave a feeling of parkland rather than farmland.

All too soon it was time to head back upstream. Our departure was slightly staggered so that we didn’t all arrive at the Pinjarra ramp at the same time. With the current against us our engines were running a little more noisily, however it was still a very pleasant trip. The last 1.5km the current was notably stronger, however well within everyone’s capability and certainly within Whimbrels crews rowing and sailing ability, though they did get to the Pinjarra ramp after most of us had left.

Participating boats

Precious Little                                    Reach Out

Gryphon                                              Whimbrel

Fala                                                        Silver Gull

Ripple                                                   Kailani

* thanks to Jim Black, Peter Kovesi and Dave Archer for the photographs

Picnic Day on the Murray River - 17th June 2017

by Chris Robinson

Written by James Bennett, photographs by James and Belinda Bennett.

On Saturday 17 June five boats met at the Ravenswood boat ramp for a picnic voyage down the Murray River to Coopers Mill on Cooleenup Island. Taking part were:

Ripple                   Rachel Kerr with Pauline Dilley

Whimbrel            Peter Kovesi

 Arapaoa             Michael Arthur and Chris Saunders

Karina                   Wally and Shirley Cook

Kailani                  Tracey Ricketts with James and Belinda Bennett

The idea for the destination of this year’s opening winter Murray River cruise had come from Rachel Kerr. Rachel has very pleasant memories of boating trips and staying at a friend’s house on Cooleenup Island from many years ago. Coopers Mill on the western end of the island was a more isolated place then, and walking down to the mill was an adventure that she, husband David and her son Dylan (now my son-in-law!) enjoyed.  The passage down river from Ravenswood is a slightly longer trip than last year’s Murray River excursion, on paper being about 5 nautical miles each way.

The autumn weather in Perth has been marked by an almost complete lack of rain, and so it was on Saturday we woke to another clear but cool day. Unfortunately, Chris Robinson had a bingle with his boats bowsprit and the rear window of his car as he left his driveway, so had to pull out of the days fun.

We met at the Ravenswood boat ramp at 10.00am for 10.30am departure. Karina owned by Wally and Shirley Cook was already neatly moored at the boat ramp jetty. Tracey Ricketts arrived expecting to be on Chris’s boat, but was invited to join Kailani. After a bit of chatter everyone launched and we were off, albeit a little later than scheduled. Michael Arthur in Arapaoa had launched at 9am as he was proposing to row downstream.

This year Kailani’s engine started pretty well straight away, so our four small boats set off in the bright morning sunshine. The tide was ebbing so our passage was reasonably fast. After the Ravenswood Bridge, we were very surprised and delighted to come across three dolphins chasing fish in the brown and opaque Murray River water, as we were watching the dolphins a large eagle flew over our heads and snatched something off the water. The eagle landed in a tree and was joined by its mate, where magpies and mudlarks mobbed them. As we drew nearer the tree, we could see that the birds were White-bellied Sea Eagles, these eagles are easily the size of a Wedge-tailed eagle, and are impressive birds. Before we could get close enough to take a photograph, they took to the wing and it was then we realised that one of the eagles had a duck in its talons.  Nature in tooth and claw.

Murray River Pelicans

Murray River Pelicans


On the stretch of river running past North Yunderup two boats hoisted sail, switched off their gasoline topsails, and enjoyed a slow run before the light easterly wind, however once in the lee of Jeegamyeejip Island, to make any progress the engines had to be restarted. As part of his preparations for the Shark Bay adventure, Peter had rigged a remote steering system consisting of a rope that ran inside the entire length of his cockpit coaming allowing him to steer the boat even when attending the forward mast, very neat and simple.


Peter showing off his steering lines

Peter showing off his steering lines

Ripple with Rachel and Pauline

Ripple with Rachel and Pauline

Shortly after that, the inevitable occurred and Kailani’s engine stopped (to put this into context, see last year’s Murray River blogg). Peter Kovesi kindly offered a tow as he motor sailed down river. Kailini’s engine had been serviced and run several times the previous week in preparation for a sailing trip in Shark Bay with Peter and Chris Robinson, so this was not a good development. Apart from the embarrassment and imposition this creates on the rest of the group, the only upside to this is situation is the relative quiet that descends over the boat. There are some seriously well-appointed houses on this section of the Murray River, almost all of them with a jetty and boat at the bottom of the garden. One house had its own slipway with a large motor boat hauled out for the winter.

We had been expecting to overhaul Michael Arthur in Arapaoa, as there was no sign of him I was getting concerned, so rang him and was surprised when he told me that he was already at the picnic spot, and had been there for some time. He obviously had a very willing and fit crew in Chris Saunders. When the rest of us arrived we found that the area around the mill has been developed into a very pleasant picnic spot with BBQ’s, running water and seating. 

Mill Point picnic spot

Mill Point picnic spot

Once we had all sorted out where to moor our boats the picnic hampers emerged and their contents were unpacked and we settled down to enjoy our food. Tracey surprised us all by producing the most amazing looking carrot cake.   


After lunch we walked over to Coopers Mill, passing close to the house where the islands care taker lives, we were amused to see in their garden several vegie patches that had been planted in old boats. Judging by the mass of greenery in each boat this works really well!

One of the caretaker's veggie patches.

One of the caretaker's veggie patches.

Information boards inside the old mill gave the detailed history of the mill and the surrounding country. It was sobering to note the marker showing the height a flood had risen to many years ago.

Cooper's Mill

Cooper's Mill

After a short stroll around the grounds, it was time to head back up river. Michael had negotiated a tow with Peter. Kailani’s engine started immediately. Some of us decided to motor back taking the tributary to the north of Jeegamyeejip Island, the houses here are a bit older and sit on larger plots.

After re-joining the main part of the Murray River there was a noticeable increase in boat traffic with family’s out enjoying the sunny conditions. After about 20 minutes Kailani’s engine decided it had had enough for the day and stopped, fortunately we were very close to a jetty and glided in to wait for the others to catch up.

Kailani being towed - again.

Kailani being towed - again.

Wally and Shirley offered us a tow, and once this was sorted out we continued up river enjoying the mid-afternoon sun. Passing the Ravenswood Tavern we noticed that Peter, Michael and Chris had pulled in for a refreshing beverage, however the rest of us continued up stream to the ramp.

After helping each other recover the boats and a final chat it was time to head home, as we drove off we could see the tavern visitors coming around the final bend of the river just downstream of the ramp.

A toot on the car horn and a wave brought the end to another very enjoyable and interesting Murray River picnic cruise.

We are proposing to hold another cruise on the 19 or 20 August launching near Pinjarra and motor downstream, more details to be released nearer the time.

Thanks to everyone who came along and a special thanks to Peter, Wally and Shirley for towing Kailani around all day again much to my shame.

James Bennett

Photographs: James and Belinda Bennett

PS FOR SALE 5hp 2 stroke Yamaha outboard, low running hours, offers welcome!

OGA C Fleet Picnic Day on the Murray River - 2nd July 2016

by Chris Robinson

Saturday 2 July saw four boats meeting at the Ravenswood boat ramp for a picnic voyage up the Murray River.

Crazy Bird          John and Jenny Longley

Precious Little  Dave, Jackie and Michael Archer plus Ally the ‘dog in training’

Reach Out         Jim Black

Kailani                                James and Belinda Bennett with Rachel Kerr

After several wet weekends, Saturday’s forecast was for a clear but cool day, so after voting in the federal election we all met at the Ravenswood boat ramp at 10.45am. Crazy Bird was already on the river and waiting patiently for the rest of us to get organised and launch.

Everyone’s engine started first time except for Kailani’s which stubbornly refused all threats and suggestions that it might make a good mooring if it didn’t cooperate. So as to not hold everyone up, our C Fleet Captain, Jim Black, keen to demonstrate the power of his new electric installation in Reach Out kindly towed Kailani up stream.

Keen not to surrender to the capricious nature of Mr Yamaha, I continued to try and start the engine with no results other than creating some large blisters on my right hand and a raising level of frustration and ill intent.

It was quite un-nerving being towed up river by a boat that made no noise what-so-ever. In fact at one stage we suggested to Jim that he needed to create a false engine noise so that other boat users could hear him coming.

After passing a number of very attractive looking houses, the river heads out into open country side, on its way up to Pinjarra. Pinjarra is around 23km upstream and the north end of the Peel-Harvey estuary 10km downstream. Trees line both banks of the river and our little fleet of vessels frequently startled the local bird life with Darters hiding in the river banks amongst tree roots and fallen branches and ducks who gave an indignant quack before taking to the wing. Cows looked down at us from the high river banks; it was a very peaceful scene. Occasionally we came across fishermen stalking their prey using small electric trolling motors mounted on the bows of their boats.

We were overtaken by a large catamaran house/party boat at one point and provided them with a subject of interest judging by the number of cameras pointing our way. Later we caught up with them moored bow to into the river banks enjoying their lunch, our fleet again on the receiving end of friendly waves and cameras.

The previous day I had downloaded some satellite pictures of the river to make a photographic chart, as this part of the Murray is off the coastal chart. After motoring for an hour I could see from the picture that around the next bend was a beach and grassy area.

The picnic spot was perfect, facing southwest, with a good view up and down stream and the surrounding farm land. Signs of a small camp fire indicated that this was probably a popular spot to visit. Thoughts that this could be an alternative camp site for a raid weekend were quietly aired, though permission from the land holder would probably be required if we were to camp.

Lunch time was also a good time for everyone to inspect Reach Out and her electrical installation. Jim has installed four large 12 volt batteries wired so that he gets 48volts dc. This is then converted to 48volts 3 phase before being fed to the drive motor. The LED read out from Jim’s console suggested that he had a range of 9 hours plus when he was towing Kailani, and a lot more without, so an impressive set up and all in perfect silence (and reliability).

While we were looking over Jim’s boat, John Longley announced that he was going to start Kailani’s outboard and much to everyone’s amusement did so first pull. The engine ran quite happily for several minutes until I went on board and touched the engine, where upon it stopped. John’s explanation on how he made the engine work is not printable here, but the threats were certainly more effective than my pleas for cooperation from Mr Yamaha. After looking at Jim’s electrical arrangements my own thoughts were seriously considering the benefits of an electric outboard, despite what I would expect is a high initial outlay.

After lunch we took a tow from Precious Little and despite repeated attempts to beat some life into Mr Yamaha, the blisters on my hand and an unsolvable carburettor problem won the day.

It had been decided that the day would not be complete without a visit to the Ravenswood Tavern, so our little fleet headed down river. The tavern is next to the Ravenswood caravan and camping ground which again raised quiet comments that a different type of raid weekend could be held that was more inclusive for those who prefer their creature comforts (pub dinner and hot showers) as opposed to Heron Point camp site, with its limited facilities.

A perfect beach next to the tavern provided a safe place to beach our boats. A round of drinks was a perfect wrap up for the day. As we left the tavern staff were setting up seating on the grass for a wedding overlooking the river. Local residents were arriving and leaving the tavern using their boats, the riverine lifestyle has a lot to be said for it!

Thanks to everyone who came along and a special thanks to Jim and Dave for towing Kailani around all day much to my shame.


James Bennett

Photographs; John Longley and James Bennett