Friday, 31 January 2014


Rottnest island is a government run holiday spot for Perth locals and drunk schoolies (kids celebrating the finishing of high school). If a local has never been overseas, but has been to "Rotto", that counts. Since Rotto is 12miles offshore which in the old days was recognised as a country's maritime boundary.... :)

This place is also the popular destination for recreational boaties, it really is a beautiful spot and became Ashiki's first "major" voyage (if 30nm can be called major). A feature of the island is no cars, the holiday makers are on bicycles. We used our folders to good effect.

A Quokka, the smiling marsupial, indigenous to Rottnest.
Here's one begging for scraps under our cafe table. We didn't
oblige him, they do perfectly well on native vegetation.
380 years ago the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh thought
they were rats, thus the island's name.
We had a great downwind sail to get there, staying overnight on a mooring in Rockingham. Too bad our home made wind vane failed us, needs more work that thing. Even hooking a lobster pot rode didn't dampen the trip. It wrapped around the rudder which seems to be designed to snag lobster pots. Gaffer taping a knife to the boat hook & half hanging over the side soon sorted that mess. Hmm, we should call the rudder the lobster rudder, maybe next time we could haul the pot up and have a meal.. thanks Jay :)

Thompson Bay, Rottnest, snug at anchor.. or so we thought...
Ashiki had been surging along at 6.5kts on broad reach before the lobster pot episode, and afterwards had enough of this heeling and hanging on caper, we raised only a few panels, 3 or 4 on each mast and gently cruised the final hour at 4kts. We soon came to love the junk rig, it is so easy to set whatever amount of sail we feel like. It was this time we figured out heaving to on this boat. Simply release the sheets, the rig weather cocks to the wind and the boat stops. Sure the aluminium battens did tend to clang against the mast as this point, so after a short while we released the halyards which dropped the sails into their lazy jacks.

We anchored at the main settlement, called The Settlement :) which is on Thompson Bay, a place with hundreds of mooring balls, and if you're unlucky enough to be there during peak season, has hundreds of stinky boats swarming about the place. We were lucky, it was mostly empty but we anchored in the designated anchorage, because moorings are pretty heavily policed here and we don't have a lease on one. We went ashore to enjoy Pizza & beer at the Quokka Arms Hotel, returning to the boat for a read and a sleep. 

I awoke in the morning to find from the OpenCPN software on the computer the boat had dragged 10m. The anchor was in sand, but close to the edge of weed & it was well and truly in weed territory now. A 30kt gust rose up and the boat slid another 40m! Lucky it was towards the open middle of the bay and not onto other boats. We had enough of this, we had planned to move to another bay and decided right then to up anchor and go.

Fun on a mooring in a gale
It was a torrid first half hour as we motored, Ashiki likes to roll when no sail up and motoring, but eventually we raised 3 panels of the foresail, a tiny amount, which steadied her, cut the noisy outboard, and saw us moving along at 3 to 4kts in gusty 30kt winds on the port beam. In the lee of the island the sea was quite settled and I was able to go below and do some work on the laptop.

The thing about Rottnest, it is a beautiful place to visit, but wind is 10kts stronger than anything on the mainland. In fact, 35 to 40kts is almost a weekly occurrence here. Makes for a topsy turvy life at anchor or on a mooring. We ended up in Stark Bay, western end of Rottnest, on a mooring and winds hit 42kts the first night, so we were confined to the boat for the first 24hrs.
Moored in Stark Bay, Rottnest.
Then we had a week of glorious weather and made several excursions to shore and bike rides to the settlement for supplies. There was an odd moment when my phone rang and it was the Island Ranger telling us that since the weather was fine, its time to leave the mooring, go and anchor. We did, then the gales came back, 35-40kts, so I threw out a 2nd anchor. Ashiki held to one of the anchors all day without dragging.
One of the many perfect little bays on Rottnest

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The boat

We built a cruising boat. This blog is not about the build though, it is about the cruise we are making after the boat is launched.
Ok, a pic of the early stages of building Ashiki, just to get perspective:

.. and another..

one more:

Pic of her launching:

..and here she is with the wind in her sails.

If you hunger for build pictures here's a whole pile.
That's 5 1/2 years covered, it was a lot of work. 
Ashiki is a junk rig schooner, on a ply and fibreglass hull, a Jay Benford designed dory better known as a "Badger", 35' Length overall (LOA) and 10' beam and at the moment is cruising the Western Australian coast. 

The plan is to sail onto SE Asia, hopefully. This means waiting for the cyclone season up north (of Australia) to finish. So in the mean time we are doing a "shake down" cruise. Which is to say we sail around learning her and if stuff breaks, we get a chance to fix it and make sure it doesn't bust again, hopefully...

There's lots to learn too, we never owned a large boat like this before, and certainly not a chinese junk rig. We also live aboard her full time. Yes, we sold most our belongings, moved out of the house, sold the car and spend time 100% afloat.