Pilbara News - - Lifestyle -

One year on from adding a lux­ury cata­ma­ran to their fleet it’s smooth sail­ing for Ex­mouth whale shark tour op­er­a­tor Nin­ga­loo Dis­cov­ery.

Nin­ga­loo Dis­cov­ery is the only whale shark tour op­er­a­tor in Ex­mouth to have a cata­ma­ran in their fleet.

Nin­ga­loo Dis­cov­ery owner Matt Oak­ley said the 55ft cata­ma­ran, Wind­chee­tah, was a worth­while ad­di­tion.

“We al­ways wanted to put some­thing into the whale shark fleet that was pur­pose-built for tourism and it’s now the only ves­sel that was de­signed or built from scratch to be used for ma­rine tourism,” he said.

“Peo­ple en­joy be­ing able to ba­si­cally sit at the front of the boat and take in every­thing that there is to see, rather than be­ing put down the back.”

The Wind­chee­tah fea­tured in a 2016 tourism cam­paign star­ring Hol­ly­wood star Chris Hemsworth, has sev­eral plat­forms to view the lo­cal ma­rine life and adds a free sail­ing el­e­ment to each whale shark tour.

“It just gives peo­ple that 360 de­gree view­ing plat­form you don’t get from other boats,” Mr Oak­ley said.

“For whale shark­ing, once you’re in the wa­ter the type of boat doesn’t mat­ter but for every­thing else the Nin­ga­loo reef has to of­fer —hump­back whales and dol­phins and or­cas and every­thing else, it’s a re­ally good plat­form for that,” he said.

Mr Oak­ley said when the en­gines are turned off and the sails go up there can be some in­ter­est­ing in­ter­ac­tions with the lo­cal ma­rine life.

“They do ac­tu­ally come to the boat — I’m sure they do know we’re there be­cause we’re still a big boat but there’s no noise or no pro­pel­lers spin­ning around,” he said.

“To be able to switch the en­gines off, the gen­er­a­tor off, have the sails up and still be do­ing six or seven or eight knots down the back of Nin­ga­loo Reef or … watch­ing mi­grat­ing whales while you’re un­der sail pro­duc­ing no noise at all is pretty awe­some.”

Pic­ture: Louise Alling­ham

Nin­ga­loo Dis­cov­ery's 55ft sail­ing cata­ma­ran, Wind­chee­tah.

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