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

19th OGA of Western Australia Swan River Regatta

by OGA of Western Australia

Chris Robinson, OGA President and Jeremy Stockley, Regatta Coordinator

On Sunday 10th April 2016 the OGA of Western Australia held its 19th Swan River Regatta at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club on a morning which opened with very fresh E-ESE winds exceeding 10 knots (and over 20knots forecast for Melville Water), foreshadowing a great day’s racing on the Swan River for 24 yachts.

The start was a handicap start as is usual for our annual regatta and used RFBYC’s Number 2 start line taking the fleet out eastward and upriver before returning to race around Claremont and Mosman Bays to the finish line.  The Results

A Fleet
Fastest                     Roulette               A McMillan
1st Handicap           Kasey                   P Ferry
2nd Handicap          Canobie               O Stacey
3rd Handicap           Hero                     M Jurat

B Fleet
Fastest                     Bicton Belle         B Glazier
1st Handicap           Genevieve            R Argyle                                   
2nd Handicap          Rosen                  C Colvin
3rd Handicap           Hakuna Matata    J Stockley

C Fleet                   
Fastest                     Kailani                  J Bennett                
1st Handicap            Whimbrel             P Kovesi
2nd Handicap          Gryphon               C Robinson
3rd Handicap           Wee Birlinn           J Black

D Fleet*
Fastest                    Bacchante             M Speicher
1st Handicap           Bacchante            M Speicher
2nd Handicap         Anna                     J Wright
3rd Handicap          Wynella                G Stanley

E Fleet**
Fastest                    Solquest               R Kornweibel
1st Handicap           Solquest               R Kornweibel

Note: *  Only three yachts entered.  ** Only one yacht entered.

The handicap start achieved its objective of close finishes in all four contested fleets.  Only 17 seconds separated the leading boats in A and D Fleets, sailing the same course. Even Solquest, the sole E Fleet participant was not alone, finishing just a minute ahead of the leading boats in B and C Fleets, all sailed the same course.  Unfortunately the only Sea Scout entry, from Waylen Bay, found the conditions a bit too challenging and wisely decided not to start.

Thera retired with a suspected crack in her mast, leaving Bacchante (D Fleet) unchallenged as the fastest boat in the Regatta (1:39:02), with Roulette (A Fleet), the fastest gaffer (1:48:03), in second place.

Thanks to RFBYC for their assistance in the race organisation and the use of their facilities before, during and after the races, to the Couta Fleet for scheduling one of their consistency series to be sailed as part of the Regatta and to the H28 visitors from SoPYC for giving Bacchante some competition, albeit with a generous head start.  Lets see more of you next year, along with more classic boats to give Solquest some added competition.

The photographs below were taken by Brian Cain from the start box at RFBYC (great shots Brian).

Further photos and a video are available on the OGA of Western Australia website at

The 2017 OGA Swan River Regatta will be held on the morning 9th April 2017 at RFBYC.

Thera, skippered by John Fitzhardinge, at the start line. (Photo Brian Cain)

Bicton Bell (EF3) and Rosen (RF121) (Photo Brian Cain)

Genevieve skippered by Rory Argyle (Photo Brian Cain)

  Canobie (R97), Bicton Belle (EF3) and Kailani (60) (Photo Brian Cain)

Clockwise from top left: Arriette (G3); Vagabond (C1), Bicton Belle (EF3) and Gryphon (R183); Wee Birlinn (R141) and Araluen. (Photos Brian Cain)