The iPhone app ‘Sea Breeze’ forecast the prevailing southerly wind to rise through the day, it’s colour code key indicated brown, soil your pants kind of conditions. We headed out of Mandurah in the early morning, planning to tuck into Pigs Trough Bay where we would be more sheltered from the southerly. With a heavy swell behind us, we ran before a 30 knot wind with gusts up to 40 knots. It was a thrilling sail and our top speed was 7.5 knots as we surfed down the face of the waves.
As the wind built and the size of the waves increased on the windward side of Garden Island I began to appreciate the benefits of Ashanti’s curved shape. We remained dry as her stern and bow lifted well above the white capped waves. I had no fear of being pooped or of broaching, but imagined what kind of adrenalin rush you would get if you were sailing in a racing boat with an open transom on the waterline. You would be racing down each wave to avoid the crest from cascading into the cockpit. Furthermore Ashanti’s bowsprit provides for greater reach without having to increase the length of her hull. Like a slalom kayak she was infinitely more manoeuvrable in the surf.
We rounded the foaming waters past Herring Bay keeping watch for the craggy reef that littered the shoreline. There were several powerboats hunkered down within the shelter of the reef, but we knew this wasn’t the place to take a keel boat and we turned towards Pigs Trough Bay. The seas subsided as we rounded the point but the wind continued to rage. We turned on the motor, dropped our sails and secured Ashanti to the Fremantle Sailing Club mooring we’d managed to reserve just ahead of our arrival. The mooring was only available at the last minute because the person who’d booked it hadn’t ventured out due to the weather.
As I went below to felt smug