Daw Island - Last of the Bight

eyre to daw  

The run from Eyre to Daw Island was quick and bumpy, 148nm in just over 22 hours. The SW swell coupled with a brisk east wind and corresponding waves, contributed the majority of the bumps. Considering we weren't really sure exactly where Daw Island was, we were keen to approach it in daylight. There were several other low-lying islands and islets about and since Daw was apparently mis-located on the charts, perhaps these were, too?

Other than the bumps, the passage was unremarkable except for a few ill-timed waves that hit us unexpectedly in the cockpit. One such wave caught me full face as I emerged from the galley with a hot cup of tea around 0230 and not only drenched me and the cockpit, but left a gift which we never discovered until it came to light on David's watch several hours later. A rather large squid had been deposited neatly on the bench behind the helm. His discontent with his situation was very evident … he'd inked us. Rigor had already started setting in, so no calamari for dinner, but he got rave reviews from the local muttonbirds as David commended him to the sea. They fought over the goodie and then followed the “breakfast boat” for several miles before giving up on more treats.


passage squid


It was a grey, grey dawn made duller by grey skies and a grey sea, with a kicker of a grey swell. An early morning mist, then rain, kept the suspense heightened since we never saw Daw until we were less than 10 miles away. We had asked Paul, the Eucla fisherman, about Daw, but he had never stopped here. “You can't miss it; it's big”, he assured us. Sticking out of the ocean nearly 500' (147m), we finally spotted it, a shrouded hulk of an island. A multi-hued grey silhouette rose out of the sea, looming ominously, a darker grey cloud hovering over it. It looked like the home of some fairy tale witch or ogre. But a sea eagle soared overhead just then and dolphins joined us. How bad could it be?


grey daw


Despite its current menacing look, it had some interesting appeal: a nice protected anchorage, a landing beach, no people and some wildlife. One guidebook stated: “Ashore there are Cape Barren geese, muttonbirds, penguins and several hundred sea lions and seals.” And almost as a post script, it added ”There is reported to be a few venomous snakes on Daw also. A unique and beautiful island.” Typical Aussie caution … all's good and, oh yeah, watch out for the venomous snakes. They're so casual about their life-threatening fauna.

Just as we'd hoped, the island curved around and enveloped a lovely, millpond-calm anchorage. Bird sounds accentuated by the barks and yips of sea lions along the rocky shore greeted us. Despite the grey skies, sand patches were evident in the clear water and we dropped the pick in 25' off the white sand landing beach and it hooked immediately.


beach view from boat


A welcome, calm, peaceful anchorage with a good night's sleep ahead and some island exploring on the agenda for tomorrow. We have crossed the Great Australian Bight. Life is good.