Sailing The Rowley Shoals

I find impeccable timing and subtle synchronicities to be a funny thing. The amount of times I’ve been in the right place at the right time is astounding & thought provoking to say the least. I don’t think its luck, but a mixture of manifestation & creating a reality you want to live, where all possibilities are open to the universe.

How does one always seem to fall into so many adventures & fortunate circumstances?

How does one simply find themselves on a Catamaran 260 kilometers offshore at one of the most untouched, pristine coral atolls in the world?

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 The journey there took 30 hours. We spent our time reading and getting lures prepared for the expectation of catching some gnarly fish. We stopped midway on a reef-shelf & ended up reeling in a Rankin Cod, Long Nosed Emperor and a Coral trout.

Line in, fish out, easy as 1 2 3. Absolutely stoked. Ash is an ex-chef so the meals we made from the fresh seafood were mouthwatering. Ceviche, fish curry, beer battered cod & chips… life on the sea.

As we entered the atoll I peered atop from the mast, the water was calm & exquisite with different shades of blue and massive coral reefs with over 230 different coral species & 600 species of fish. A thin, elongated island splayed in the shallows further along, the center as rocky and desolate as Mars, but pure white & home to Red-tailed Tropicbirds & Ruddy Turnstones. This was to be our playground for the next week.

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Each night I’ve been sleeping on a giant inflatable mattress that’s tied to the top of the Catamaran. The whole Indian ocean surrounds me, & above I’m looking at the trillions of galaxies, the deep milky way and a rare abundance of shooting stars. I seriously have a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view of the sky, the soothing sounds of waves lapping against the hull and ropes swaying against the mast.

 

Bedwell Island may just look like a stretch of elongated sand- but it’s actually a whole beautiful little ecosystem with an abundance of life and natural patterns. I kayaked over to it one afternoon in a contentious 25 knot wind. The old blokes were wary I wasn’t going to be able to paddle back- and if you miss the island the next stop is legitimately Africa. I threw in my snorkel & mask, a few water bottles & a collectable bag- there’s many a treasure to be found on an island 300 kilometers out to sea. Plastic is still one of them unfortunately.

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As I walked further around the island, I felt so completely immersed in its utter simplicity & divine beauty. Hundreds of crabs would scurry their way into the rocks as I walked up the long stretch of rock or old reef. And Eels! Some sort of Eel like creature with cream skin and tiny black dots slithered their way through the shallows, absolutely terrified by the sight of me. The first one I saw I accidentally disturbed it sleeping in the shade of a rock in the shallows, I didn’t know what to think just as much as he did. I now know that they were Morays & not some alien creature from the deep. As the sun lowered over the desert stretch of land, I took everything in around me and fully appreciated where I was. My cornucopia of goodies consisted of driftwood in the form of sea creatures, dried corals, all the bottle-tops and micro plastics I could find, a beautiful glass bottle, broken lightbulbs (yes, lightbulbs) and a massive Nautilus shell which made me stop straight in my tracks. I was blown away when I saw it, half buried in the sand, its striped brown and white trunk just peeking out. Nautiluses usually inhabit depths of several hundred metres and are only found in the Indo-Pacific waters. In other words, a rare find.

The paddle back into the wind and towards the Catamaran was an enjoyable mission. With white tip reef sharks meandering in the shallows and a slow setting sun, the push back to the Galley Cat was on. Arrived back to a nice lamb curry simmering away on the stove top with jasmine rice & crusty Turkish bread. Cheers Ash!

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The waves on the outer reef of Clerke atoll have been pounding against the 400-meter-deep reef wall for the past four days. Currently out on the high seas trying to hold down the last hours sushi and seared chicken. We took a punt and headed towards the channel (the only way in and out). We secured everything down and packed bowls, cooking utensils, the dive gear, anything loose, inside the cabin. The dinghy is secured on the back with a pulley system that can hold one tonne. The caribenas have warped and torn their way open against the weight of the dinghy, which is getting absolutely pummeled by the rise and fall of the sea. Tumultuous to say the least.

Captain said Galley Cat is riding nicely- although after his daily dozen dose of greens and the thumps of great liquid mass knocking the boat from underneath, I’m in more unease than gallant enthusiasm.  Stew, Stew, Stew. I’d describe Stew as an experienced stinky old sea dog who’s constantly ‘pissed and stoned as a maggot’ but as harmless and affable as his Pitbull Honey. Ash is lying on the floor of the cabin next to the dog. He just vomited up about a litre of creamy liquid bile and this morning’s sushi. He’s at it again about 10 minutes later. I don’t think I was far behind.

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The anticipation between each swell is mighty. You can hear the power and rumble of the motors, working hard against the seas pushing us back towards the treacherous shallow reef. The rumble of the propellers as they spin in mid-air. Every creak and rattle and shake you feel down to the core of your bones- & your aching peace of mind. If one of the hulls was to break or warp under the pressure, and water started to cascade through the inside of the cabin, there would be no one to save us. I’ve prepared a plastic bag full of water bottles and my rash vest handy if anything happens. I’ve even glad-locked my hard-drive and am willing to put that and my plastic wrapped laptop case in the freezer for preservation if we do go under (life of a photographer- when you value your gear more than life). Hey we won’t be going under, but 167 nautical miles out at sea it’s an imperious thought. Not that a rash vest is going to help much but it will protect my fair skin from the sun, and hopefully the water bottles will float when I haven’t yet been parched of thirst.

Oh wow. *%# I feel sick. I do have a life jacket by my side if you were thinking the obvious.

 

Anyway, back to that channel. The plan was to scope it out and see whether it was doable getting through. The tide was getting lower and lower and we had hit a tiny coral bombie on the way out- the absolute death of me. One thing’s for sure, the Neap tide period was well and truly over. The past few days we’ve seen the coral almost fully dry above the water, Brain coral and harder rock corals emerge first. We left at about 1.30pm through the channel around mid-tide- pretty much headed straight out through it with no prior thought or consultation. Ash was on the deck pointing directions to Stew in the skipper’s seat below, navigating us between the 10 metre channel. Galley Cat is seven metres wide which left us an arm and a foot either side of the rising reef. The swells that pushed towards us as we neared the exit way were frightening to say the least. I remember the sight of it pretty clearly from above the cabin. Big rolls of white water leaped and bound towards us as we rolled left to right in between the coral sheath. Although this wasn’t even the worst bit; the worst bit was battling against the mountain like, unforgiving swell as it hit the edge of the atoll and pushed back with an unthwarted stubbornness. We were in the midst of its game, 12 or so miles out and the high seas were still prevailing. God it gave me anxiety, but I seemed to be taking myself out of the situation and kind of standing back from it all- like the early Indigenous people who would leave their bodies to look for wild prey on the valleys below- It doesn’t ease the rise and fall of my stomach, however. Now it’s just holding on tight for the next 30 hours from here and praying that Galley Cat can ease her way through the swell…

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We were halfway across the strait. It was just as tumultuous as it was seven hours ago. I woke up to catch a glimpse of the sunrise before passing back out for a few hours on the couch. It’s 8.30 am now. The fact that we made it through the night is hopeful, yet at a steady 1.6 knots we are still 107 miles either direction from land. Smack bang in the middle of the Indian Ocean and south of the Timor Sea. My only hope is that the hulls of the Galley Cat don’t concave against the massive thumping of the rise and fall of the sea. The number of dire scenarios that went through my head were quite funny actually. We shall chagrin with the conditions.

 

Last night the dive platform below the dinghy got crushed under its weight and broke off during the night. I’m surprised that thing is still on there to be honest. The metal structure holding up the dinghy with chains and multiple double knotted ropes has buckled with a quarter of the attachments from the roof disjointed. I can’t even describe the rest; I don’t want to put it into words just in case it comes true.

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After a solid struggle and many hours of not being able to stand up straight, I’m overlooking the fine Cable Beach once again. I am so relieved to be back on land and free from the constraints of the boat. My body still feels like it’s in motion, but I shall soon adjust. Man, that was an interesting few days. We celebrated the trip and our safe arrival with a homemade cheesecake haha. Stew called me a few days later saying the hull had numerous compression dings and the left propeller completely shut down, leaving him and the yacht in shambles in the wild weather and needing to be rescued just off the mooring. We were extremely fortunate to come back the day we did.

 

I was definitely keen to get out of Broome then, start heading back down the coast in search of waves and some solid surf. After that who knows, but I like to have a general idea so I’m not aimlessly meandering. However, that is often what leads you to meeting the best people and sharing the greatest experiences- meandering & general conversation.

North West Island Paradiso

The Great Barrier Reef is not just a place on a map; it’s a living and thriving ecosystem made up of billions of organisms and home to over 900 islands and coral cays. Just 75 kilometres off of Gladstone, Queensland, lies the Capricorn Bunker Group- the southernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef consisting of eight biologically diverse, and exceptionally beautiful islands that are just a stone’s throw away from the mainland. As we boarded the boat headed to North West Island, this tiny strip of land that we would be living and camping on for the next 7 days, with our two cars worth of gear, boards and leisurely essentials (apparently, we packed light) we had little idea of what we’d be in for.

Under the stars. Our North West odyssey.

Under the stars. Our North West odyssey.

Australia, you're so wild and free.

Australia, you're so wild and free.

@danwilly and @indhi_ mid rapturous-delight in @willandbear

@danwilly and @indhi_ mid rapturous-delight in @willandbear

There’s just something about being in the open sea, with the wind on your face and a fine salty glaze glistening across your body. Watching the swell ease its way down the horizon, those gentle rolls that never cease to halt. Curtis Ferry Services have been dropping people out to North West, and the islands sprawled across the Capricorn Bunker region for the past 40 years. The trip out there is something in itself.

The first night we were there, our camp nestled amongst the Pisonia trees and only 20 steps from the soft sand, with those mesmerisingly translucent waters of the lagoon that shone the colour of a Moroccan gem. We were greeted with a warm cacophony from some of the islands local residents- Knoddy turn and Shearwater (Mutton) birds. Muttons are ever so graceful at sea, soaring freely across the high seas, but on land, well lets just say that’s another story. They nest and burrow under the Pisonia trees throughout the island, their rudimentary singing calls attempting to serenade us throughout the night- with little avail haha.

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The walk out to the reef // just a step off from the high reef edge into an oasis of large pelagic fish and corals.

The walk out to the reef // just a step off from the high reef edge into an oasis of large pelagic fish and corals.

Dinner done right. @micklatt @_sophiaanne_ @danwilly

Dinner done right. @micklatt @_sophiaanne_ @danwilly

Back in 1904, the island was actually used as the base for a turtle soup factory- the boilers still remain, in their rusted form today. The history of some of The Great Barrier Reef’s islands are flagrantly barbaric as much as they are intriguing. The turtles were caught, killed, butchered, ‘souped’, tinned and exported- the whole operation completed from sea to soup. It wasn't until 1950 that sea turtles became protected animals (thank god- I can’t imagine turtle soup being very appetising anyhow).

The days on the island consisted of waking up with the sun, that soft glow that slowly emanates its way through the trees and onto the side where we were camped. Stepping onto the beach is like witnessing the sands of time- every 5 metres or so there’s a new animal track lingering from the low tide and up into the soft sand of the foredune. Turtles. These guys come here to lay their eggs, swimming in after dusk on the low tide and leaving early the next morning before the predators lurk in the high water of the lagoon. Michael, one of the guys on the trip, has been doing turtle conservation work for the past few years- we counted 420 tracks encompassing the island in just the first night alone. 420- that’s wild man!

Slacklining and hammock hangs part of the daily rituals of island life.

Slacklining and hammock hangs part of the daily rituals of island life.

Watching the baby turtles make their way to the water. Pretty special moments in time.

Watching the baby turtles make their way to the water. Pretty special moments in time.

@danwilly braving the sharkies for the shot. North West is the largest coral cay in the Capricorn-Bunker region, you can meander around it in under an hour.

@danwilly braving the sharkies for the shot. North West is the largest coral cay in the Capricorn-Bunker region, you can meander around it in under an hour.

Absolute ledgie @_sophiaanne_ enjoying the afternoon sun.

Absolute ledgie @_sophiaanne_ enjoying the afternoon sun.

The abundance of marine and wildlife on the island is actually phenomenal. From the turtles laying their eggs on the beach to the Manta rays and small reef sharks swimming in the lagoon. One afternoon we were eating our stuffed spuds whilst watching the sun go down- the spuds filled with the previous night’s leftovers and marinated veggies (recommended easy and seriously delicious camp meal), enjoying the tranquillity of our surroundings and a cold bev, when all of a sudden about ninety loggerhead turtle hatchlings erupted from the dune behind us and came scurrying down between our toes in dire desperation to reach the waters edge. This was not a rare occurrence. In fact, after seven days, we had possibly become turtled out.

Australia seriously has so much to offer, it’s a country that’s beautifully wild and free. We yearn to visit those places overseas and tropical islands far out of our reach, but in reality, the best destinations and experiences are right here in our own backyard. North West Island, you were a real gem.

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north-west-island-the-salty-dreamers-jemma-scott-photographer
north-west-island-the-salty-dreamers-jemma-scott-photographer

 

This article was featured on Summersite

Rad Livin' West Coast Tour

How often is it that you surround yourself with different people that inspire, challenge and motivate you to simply chase your dreams and follow your passions? It may be a little cliché, but life is what you make of it, and if you're not waking up every day with a burning passion or flowing contentment, start changing things up. There is more opportunity out there than you know, and this life you want to live, is more attainable than you think it is, and how society says it should be.

Jonny @dustybootsmusic and Liv @donttellsummer catching up on old times.

Jonny @dustybootsmusic and Liv @donttellsummer catching up on old times.

@zacwhiteee & @donttellsummer rock hoppin the rugged landscape of the South West.

@zacwhiteee & @donttellsummer rock hoppin the rugged landscape of the South West.

Vanlife. And some very good humans.

Vanlife. And some very good humans.

This past week we spent time with a collective of extremely talented, kind-hearted souls creating content, touring the coast and getting to know a little more about guest speakers, long haired yahoos, and genuinely good people @theneverlandboys.co for @donttellsummers festival Rad Livinwhich will be held in Sydney on March 17th. The purpose of the Rad Livin festival is to inspire you to do what you love now, rather than waiting for some point in the future.  It’s a declaration to live an authentic, meaningful life. The other speakers making an appearance include Cam Greenwood (founder of Monsta Surf), Will & Bear founders, Steph Gabriel, Stefan Haworth and Elise and Dominic, founders of Down the Rabbit Hole Wines- they are currently travelling Aus in their 72 Westfalia Kombi. Yeahhhhh, not a bad line-up if you ask me. Pretty grateful to say some of these speakers are my good mates, and the rest a massive inspiration.

Taking shelter from the rain inside Auri. @dustybootsmusic @ashkatch @adamharpaz @donttellsummer

Taking shelter from the rain inside Auri. @dustybootsmusic @ashkatch @adamharpaz @donttellsummer

The crew goes South.

The crew goes South.

A collaboration with Soul Camping ensured two very dandy nights of absolute lux. @tygerlyons @zacwhiteee @donttellsummer @ashkatch

A collaboration with Soul Camping ensured two very dandy nights of absolute lux. @tygerlyons @zacwhiteee @donttellsummer @ashkatch

With a solid crew of good people, we meandered south  down to Yallingup, Margaret River and Bunbury following the soulful, coastal folk tunes and groovy funk of Dusty Boots music and Adam Harpaz for their West Coast tour. Based in Byron Bay, Jonny (Dusty Boots) lives the simple life in his rolling home and is the co-founder behind the massive community Van Life Diaries. For the West Coast tour, a friend offered up her home for the boys to travel in whilst on the road- a 19 foot Mercedes sprinter van, a seriously dreamy conversion at that.

The simple things.

The simple things.

Creating content for @donttellsummer ‘s Rad Livin Festival in March 2018.

Creating content for @donttellsummer ‘s Rad Livin Festival in March 2018.

Soulful tunes and mellow hues.

Soulful tunes and mellow hues.

We scored a few waves, watched the sinking sun atop the cliffs, glamped in the bush with Soul Camping's bohemian styled bell tents, talked about dreams, goals, aspirations, and the most random shit, all over the melodious strum of the guitar. In the end it’s the people you meet, the stories you share, and the little things that really make your world go round. These past weeks encompassed all three, that’s fo sure.

 

@donttellsummer and @ashkatch are originally from America. We celebrated thanksgiving in style- pumpkin pie, turkey and all, with a bit of an Aussie twang.

@donttellsummer and @ashkatch are originally from America. We celebrated thanksgiving in style- pumpkin pie, turkey and all, with a bit of an Aussie twang.

Don't mind if we do.

Don't mind if we do.

Life of an instagrammer. @zacwhiteee & @tygerlyons are some of the most genuine people you will meet.

Life of an instagrammer. @zacwhiteee & @tygerlyons are some of the most genuine people you will meet.

@adamharpaz and his insanely soulful tunes. This guy is going places.

@adamharpaz and his insanely soulful tunes. This guy is going places.

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Catching up with Zac White // THE NEVERLAND BOYS

The Neverland Boys -from groms documenting their youth in one of the most beautiful places in Australia, to serious videographers and bloggers travelling the world and capturing the raw essence of a life that is the epitome of living. I caught up with Zac whilst back in Perth and had the absolute pleasure of hearing a little bit about his story, travels from the past year and what’s to come for the group of three. Growing up is definitely not on their agenda… and it never will be.

Don’t know who these guys are? Watch The Neverland Boys latest project ‘Citizens of Nowhere’- it will blow your cotton socks off.

The Neverland boys originally started up in Rottnest Island, the perfect place to just roam free and explore hidden gems. How did you meet the rest of the boys and get together?

So in the group it’s Elliott, Jaxon and myself…I first met Elliott playing cricket when I was thirteen. We had so much in common right from the get go and spent more summers than I know playing cricket together, which has created this super special friendship we have now. Elliott was always raving on about this dude he was best friends in school with and so it was only a matter of time before I met this guy, Jaxon. Since then we’ve all been like peas and carrots and I don’t remember a time or day where we haven’t been together doing something super fun. Then I guess one summer, we thought there actually might be something better to do on a hot sunny Saturday other than cricket haha! So we thought we’d go to Rotto and find a job there and that we did! We haven’t looked back since, or even played a game of cricket in fact. I mean we lived for cricket everyday, like loved it, but Rotto just gave us something else, a new passion, which was photography and filming and it was hard to not document this life, I mean Rotto is insane…

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Since the humble beginnings of Rotto you guys have been all over the world to places such as Greece, Croatia, California and different islands throughout Indonesia. In documenting this rad lifestyle, what is the main message you want to portray and get across to people following your journey?

We’ve been more than lucky to see some really insane places and I honestly couldn’t be more thankful for that. I guess it’s this opportunity that has inspired us to document life and show others that there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. But I guess one message we like to try to portray through doing what we do is to give people motivation to not be afraid to just go out and do what they love. Whether thats going out and travelling, starting up an idea you’ve had for a while, working in a job you actually like or just something as simple as little as finding time in your day or week to do something that makes you happy.

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Zac what does being creative mean to you?

I think being a creative gives me the chance to be me and express who I am in a creative sense. For me, I’ve always been pretty shy in expressing myself and who I am, so I’m really grateful that I’ve found a passion with photography and videography, which has helped me with this. But in saying that, being a creative means you don’t have to follow the crowd, you can think outside the box and be unique, which is what I like most.

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Describe a single moment from one of your travels this year (hard to choose, I know) something that resonated with you on a larger scale.

This whole year has been a standout for sure! I’ve visited places I’ve only ever dreamed of but also come across many challenges along the way, which has brought us three boys together closer than ever. In amongst this I’d say losing all our accounts to everything we’ve been working on has for sure been one of those challenges, a good and bad thing. It helped us grow, learn, and opened our eyes up to all the amazing people we’ve met travelling along the way- that helped us get back on our feet, which was incredible to see. There’s just so many like minded people out there that we’ve met, shared a lot with and learnt a lot from, and that’s something that has really resonated with me and the boys quite a lot this year.

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

The content and video stories you guys create is seriously insane. I was awashed with pure joy after watching the first episode of Citizens of Nowhere. How do you work as a team to pull it all together?

Us boys are pretty open on how we create content. We all take photos and make videos, with some of us being more creative at one thing than another, but just having three brains to help put something together really makes the whole process a lot easier and more creative. But generally if we usually have an idea we want to do we just do it because if we don’t take that one picture or film that one video, we’ll just never know. Otherwise when it comes to the commercial side of things we really put all the ideas on the table and sort out what will work best. Then I guess if we have more than a few jobs to do we’re able to split them up, which makes it quite efficient for us.

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Sometimes there’s just no place sweeter than home. Where’s your favourite place to hang out and get back to your roots?

Its full chill mode when I’m home ahah! I love cruising in Freo, grabbing a coffee from a couple of my fave places then just surfing at my local or treating myself to a few days here and there at Rotto when I can! Home is great!

Upcoming Perth band/ artist you’re diggin?

I’m actually really diggin Great Gable! They’re a few legends just rocking out to some really cool and groovy stuff. I used to play cricket with the lead singer and I feel obliged to say they sound sick but I generally actually listen to them mostly everyday, they’re rad!

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

Photo: @theneverlandboys.co

The boys are holding their film premiere/photo exhibition from recent travels at Little Wing Corner Gallery in Perth early November.

 

This interview was featured on Savage Thrills