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Swan River's gentle taste of Dutch sailing history
There were days last year when barely a soul was standing on board the Dutch replica sailing ship the Duyfken as it took part in a voyage to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dirk Hartog on WA's northwest coast.
During the three-moth voyage the ship struck unseasonably bad weather which had almost all on board heading for the rails to feed the fish.
The Duyfken under full sail. Picture: Richard Polden
A new series of voyages though are geared around the far more faint-hearted.
Sailors shouldn't have too much trouble on Duyfken's Summer of Sail Twilight Sailing program that kicks off on Saturday, October 14 and which runs through until the end of March on the sedate waters of the Swan.
While the Duyfken was berthed over summer at Elizabeth Quay in the city last year, providing a great opportunity for visitors to see the inner workings as part of a static display, this summer there'll be an opportunity to enjoy the Duyfken under sail.
The Duyfken tied up at Elizabeth Quay. Picture supplied
It's been three years since the ship has sailed the Swan River. And there's not likely to be too many cases of seasickness on the tranquil waters of the river, creating a perfect opportunity for less robust sailors to discover what it was really like on a sailing ship 400 years ago.
The Duyfken is offering the opportunity to step aboard the 'baby' tall ship for a three-hour twilight sail.
Voyages will run from the South of Perth Yacht Club at Coffee Point, Applecross, departing at 4pm to be able to take in the scenery of the river and the city as the sun sets in the West.
The adventure begins, stepping onto the gangway that leads to the main deck of Duyfken. In that moment, you transition from the 21st to the 17th century, you're aboard an authentic reproduction of a ship that sailed the seas between the Netherlands and the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
The experience though won't be quite the same as it was when 26 crew members were cramped together in the tiny 20-metre sailing ship for up to a year at a time with limited rations and facing wild oceans.
Built in Fremantle and launched in 1999 at a cost of $3.7 million, Duyfken has given more than a million visitors a taste of what life was like for the seafarers of the early 17th century.
Travelling the world, the Duyfken replica has shared the story of Willem Janzoon, and the crew of the original Duyfken who 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.
There are only 700 tickets available for the summer season (300 already sold) and a maximum of 12 people on board for each sail. The tickets include around three hours of sailing with food and beverage including gourmet rolls and Gage Roads Little Dove beer and Houghton wines. Gift vouchers are available.
Storytellers on board will recount the history of the Swan River from Noongar to Now with stories focussing on Aboriginal heritage, Dutch history and the arrival of Captain James Stirling. Audio tours will be available for those who want them.
Until the end of October the ship will be sailing on Saturdays and Sundays and then from November until the end of March will be sailing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.