RL24, RL28, and RL34 Trailable Yachts
from Rob Legg Yachts
Three young children, a trailer sailer and an A-bomb test site may not seem to be the ideal ingredients for a successful cruise - but for John Blyth the Monte Bellos are a fantastic retreat. These harshly beautiful islands off the north west coast, the site of atomic bomb test in the '50s, were the destination of two fabulous trail/sail cruises on an RL 28.

The Monte-Bellos… The A-Bomb islands of the North West

Story and pictures by John Blyth (from Australian Boating magazine)

The Monte Bello Islands form the northern most extremity of a group of islands running seaward from the coast between Onslow and Dampier on the north-west coast of Western Australia. The Monte Bello Islands were the site of the atomic bomb tests carried out between Britain and Australia in the mid 1950s. Before that, they were the occasional lonely haven for shipwrecked sailors, such as those from the sinking of the Tryal more than a hundred years earlier.

I hoped my visits would be a trifle less traumatic and planned accordingly. The qualities of the ideal yacht will no doubt be debated by yachtsmen for some time to come but for my purposes, a well fitted RL-28 trailer yacht provides the speed, comfort and cruising ability for my needs.

This is a tale of two voyages to the Monte Bellos and their differences will now become apparent. Voyage One consisted of towing the RL-28 400 kilometres to Exmouth, sailing 500 nautical miles to the Monte Bellos (and back) returning to Carnarvon behind the Holden-powered Landrover again. My crew for this voyage was Joe McGrade, ex-navy and a bit of a sea dog from way back. Voyage Two commenced with a tow of 700 kilometres each way to Dampier, a 300 nautical mile sail, with a crew comprising radiographer Nigel Davies and my three young children aged three to eight years.

These trips always seem to require an endless supply of `things to be done' lists, ranging from buying charts to checking wheel bearings. There is not a lot of pleasure in driving along the relatively barren stretches of road which seem to separate Carnarvon from the rest of Australia but at least the roads are flat and easy travelling with 2½-3 tonnes on behind, be the prime mover be the Landrover or the trusty old V8 Leyland P76.

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