This area is very different from the relatively sheltered waters of Spencer Gulf, and after rounding Cape Catastrophe and West Point, vessels are in the Southern Ocean. There are few all weather anchorages, the distance between anchorages is greater, ocean swells predominate, and few other vessels are encountered. Some of the off-shore islands in the Investigator Group and the Nuyts Archipelago are well out of sight of the mainland, and many of the anchorages have a rather remote and wild feel about them. For these reasons this area is recommended only for experienced cruisers with well prepared vessels.
The typical late summer weather pattern creates very strong SE winds which are augmented by the afternoon sea breeze. Vessels may therefore have a very comfortable and fast sail while heading towards Ceduna, but will have a much harder time returning. Sometimes the afternoon SE breeze backs to an easterly at night which can make the selected anchorage untenable. This can necessitate a night sail to a more suitable anchorage.
Mobile phone reception is generally good near townships, but poor or non-existent elsewhere, especially on the off-shore islands. VHF coverage is also patchy or non-existent in the more remote anchorages, so weather updates can be difficult. Shore access is frequently not possible, but with good preparation and attention to weather forecasts, this is a very rewarding cruising ground.
The Venus Bay VMR has prepared excellent and very comprehensive notes on coastal cruising on the West Coast both east and west of Venus Bay, and should be read by anyone planning to cruise in this area. They can be found using this link. VMR Venus Bay SA – Notes for Coastal Cruising East or West of Venus Bay
Squadron Member Rick Halliday has also prepared an excellent guide for cruising the area from the Neptune Islands to Fowlers Bay. This is a very long document (192 pages) but is well indexed and easy to use. It is very comprehensive and should be consulted by any cruisers planning to sail to these areas. His notes can be found on this link. THE WESTERN BAYS AND ISLANDS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA