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Exmouth has two separate and quite distinct marine environments.
The Western side or Ningaloo coastline is dominated by the offshore barrier reef. the waters are generally clear, warm and coral laden. Inside the reef the water is shallow and hazardous. There is little room for sailing but careful exploration with a bow 'lookout' would be very rewarding. Tidal movements and currents can be treacherous, especially around reef breaks. The only launching opportunity on the Western side near Exmouth itself is Tantabiddy. This is a small ramp and subject to swell. Caution is advised. A better base for exploring the Western coast would be Coral Bay.
The Eastern Gulf is much more suited to trailer sailers. Ocean swells have little influence although can still be a nuisance when landing on some beaches. The water is deeper than Shark Bay but is mostly less than 20 metres. Coral reef abound, but is well charted. Good launching is available at the Small Boat Harbour in Town or at Bundegi to the North. At the time of writing, a launching facility at the Kailis Prawning works at Learmonth was suffering cyclone damage and was not serviceable.
We found the tidal streams, particularly around Point Murat and North West Cape to be pushing the limits of our small craft. Motoring into an outgoing tide in a dead calm, we were battling to get 2.5 knots out of our 8hp Yamaha. We learnt to plan our trips with the tide.
Bundegi Reef is clearly marked on charts. There is an outer reef rising out of 10 metres to 2 or 3 metres and an inner reef in much shallower water. The inner reef provides an anchorage with limited protection from the East and South. We spent a safe if rather bouncy night anchored in fresh to strong South Easterlies.
Circumstances prevented us from getting to Y Island but the locals speak highly of it as a weekend destination.
A very good anchorage is reported to lie between the two Murions. Strong tidal rips can be experienced in the vacinity of the Murions. Care should be exercised and passage South timed for slack or neap tides. Excellent fishing is reported.
Bay of Rest
South of Learmonth, the Bay of Rest is a beautiful destination. A large open bay houses a deep mangrove creek. A well defined channel provides access to 2.5 to 3 metres at all tides. Protection is available from all quarters. Recommended.
Point Lefroy forms one end of the Bay of Rest. A relatively poor anchorage, the area is worth a visit in calm weather for the extensive shallow reef system which surrounds it. Care is needed rounding the Point in a South Easterly and rising tide, with some rather large waves resulting.
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