Shark Bay – April 07

Another annual Easter trip to Shark Bay is over. For the second year running, we were joined by Derek and Joy for a week. Last year, the four of us were a little cramped on “Cape Rose” (RL24 trailer sailer) but this year we enjoyed the relative luxury of “Sandpiper” (Court 750).

Sandpiper anchored at Monkey Mia

The plan was for Derek to tow our off-road camper with his Mitsubishi Magna while we would tow “Sandpiper” with the 4WD. Having launched “Sandpiper” at Monkey Mia, Derek would swap the trailer to the 4WD, park the Magna at Monkey Mia and proceed North through Peron National Park to a camp site at Herald Bight. Meanwhile, we would sail the 20 nautical miles to Herald Bight. Alas, the grand plan started to unravel early on when, after a night at a caravan park in Denham, I couldn’t find the car keys. They never have turned up so I suppose you can call them “lost” rather than “misplaced”. Fortunately, we had a spare set so we set off for Monkey Mia. Once there, we found that the spare keys did not include a key for the tow hitch pin so Derek had to drive the 4WD back to Denham, find someone to cut the pin off with an oxy torch, return to Monkey Mia, swap hitches and trailers (the camper has a Tregg Hitch) and go on to Herald Bight.

We sailed North under a very light Easterly. For a while, we pretended to gain some advantage from the wind by running a jib but eventually the lack of air would not even hold a sail shape so we just motored. We arrived at the camp site about 1:30pm and were horrified to find that the beautiful spreading Tamarisk trees that had provided shade since early in the 20th Century had been cut down by the authorities to avoid issues with public liability. Insanity! With no sign of Derek by 3pm, I enlisted the aid of a chap camped a kilometre down the beach and set off to search. We found him about half a km inland and well and truly bogged (both car and trailer). A troopie with two German tourists had stopped to help so we hooked on a snatch strap and soon had the car moving.
However, it refused to budge with the trailer attached so we formed a train with a Defender snatching our Ford Explorer which snatched the camper. With this arrangement, we made it through to the beach and set up camp on the saw dust remains of the Tamarisks.

Our campsite at Herald Bight

Derek and Joy

Over the next few days, we enjoyed some magic weather and some terrific fishing. The nearly-best fish of the week was a large spanish mackerel that took a trolled Halco Laser Pro off Cape Peron. He managed to get it up to the boat before losing it. Just as well, as it was too much fish for us to handle.

Derek leaves Sandpiper

Derek enters Shark Bay

Derek and Joy departed at the end of the week and we took some R&R in Denham. A highlight of the Easter weekend for us was a reunion of the “Class of ’79” for the students who attended Shark Bay Primary School. I had much pleasure in catching up with some of my former pupils and their families.

A 56cm black snapper

The second week we based ourselves at Monkey Mia, sailing North to Cape Rose and down to the Southern end of Faure Island. The fishing was excellent, with some very large black snapper and a couple of super sized tailer. This trip represented a return to the Eastern Gulf of Shark Bay after many years of exploring the Western Gulf. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have promised to return to Monkey Mia on our next trip.

Two XOS tailor from Cape Rose. The bigger one is 65cm.