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History ahoy! Enjoy twilight sailing on Duyfken


About Allen

Journalist and PR guy who loves living in Perth with its fabulous food and wine and wide open spaces.


Dutch tall ship the Duyfken will take to WA's Swan River over the summer in a series of twilight sailings for landlubbers.

I cannot imagine being squeezed into a 20m, 17th century sailing ship with 25 other people and then sailing from Holland to Indonesia.

The Duyfken in full sail.

The Duyfken in full sail. Picture, Richard Polden.

I take my hat off to the modern-day sailors who have sailed the Duyfken - WA’s own beautiful replica of the 400-year-old Dutch sailing ship - around the world and who last year took part in a three-month voyage along the West Australian coast, celebrating the arrival of Dirk Hartog on WA’s North-West coast.

But they, at least, had a slightly better idea of the lay of the land, some emergency equipment and modern supplies.

The early sailors had a rough idea of where they were going, pretty ordinary rations and even more ordinary weather to face as the ventured for a year or more into the little known.

I’ve been aboard the Duyfken several times. And while I’m sure the sailors of those early days were more lithe and fit than I, the prospect of surviving a long voyage in those cramped conditions is almost unthinkable.

Even on last year’s Dirk Hartog voyage, unseasonal rough weather along WA’s coastline had most of the volunteer crews down with seasickness.

While the more adventurous among us love that kind of excitement, more my cup of tea is a twilight sail on the Swan River, with a glass of wine in hand and being regaled about the history of the Dutch sailors, the story of the Swan River from Noongar to Now, with stories focusing on Aboriginal heritage and the arrival of Captain James Stirling.

A series of three-hour twilight sails on board the Duyfken over summer will provide a glimpse back into what life was like for the early Dutch sailors, but with a touch of modern day luxury.

The 4pm cruises are timed to take advantage of the setting sun in the West and beautiful views over the city.

Duyfken’s Summer of Sail Twilight Sailing program kicks off on Saturday, October 14 and runs through until the end of March.

It’s been three years since the Duyfken’s sails have been set on the Swan so it will provide a stunning sight as she makes her way up river.

Last year the Duyfken spent the summer berthed at Elizabeth Quay, providing a fabulous static historical display, but this summer offers the chance to actually go for a sail.

Voyages will run from the South of Perth Yacht Club at Coffee Point, Applecross.

Built in Fremantle at a cost of $3.7 million and launched in 1999, the Duyfken was lovingly built to be as faithful a replica of the original ship as possible, even down to using the same kind of hand tools that were used 400 years ago.

There’ll only be a maximum of 12 people on board for each sailing experience to get a taste of what sea life was like aboard the Duyfken when she was under the command of Willem Janzoon.

Since she was built the Duyfken replica travelled the world sharing the story of how the crew of the original Duyfken became the first Europeans to set foot on Australian soil in 1606, on the western shores of the Cape York Peninsula, some 10 years prior to Hartog's arrival aboard the Eendracht in 1616 and long before the arrival of Captain Cook on Australia’s east coast.

There are only 1000 spots available for the summer season and nearly 300 tickets have already been sold.

The tickets include around three hours of sailing, with food and beverage including gourmet rolls, Gage Roads Little Dove beer and Houghton wines. Gift vouchers are available.

Until the end of October, the ship will be sailing on Saturdays and Sundays. From November until the end of March she will be sailing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are available from .   

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