When Captain of the Fleet Yvonne Larsen invited Travel for a spin in her electric picnic boat, how could we refuse?
She had us hooked with the name of her company straight away… Who wouldn’t want to go on a Nauti Picnic on the Swan River?
Electric picnic boats are not a new idea — there are plenty of them cruising around in some European capitals and there are even a few of them floating around on the Yarra River in Melbourne.
Nauti Picnic’s boat is the first of its kind in Perth, and Yvonne is planning to expand her fleet as soon as she can get access to a permanent jetty space from where she can have a small kiosk to run the business.
In the meantime, she launches the boat from the Maylands Peninsula where I meet her for a cruise downstream to the Matagarup Bridge and Claisebrook Cove in East Perth.
No skippers ticket is required to hire the boat. “Just gather a few mates, pack a picnic and meet me at the ramp 15 minutes before departure for a briefing about the rules and regulations,” says Yvonne as she prepare the boat for departure.
The Nauti boat can hold up to eight people with comfortable seating and cushions around a rectangular picnic table in the centre. The skipper steers the boat from a small centre console at the rear and there’s ample shade thanks to a large canopy that covers the whole boat.
Before long, we are on the water and sailing downstream towards East Perth. I settle back and leave the driving to the Captain of the Fleet.
Although she encourages me to have a go as well, I’m happy to just sit back and soak in the atmosphere to begin with.
It’s a perfect summers day with a light breeze to keep us cool. The first thing I notice as we motor along is how quiet it is. There’s no noisy and smelly petrol engine — the only sound is a low whirring noise from the electric engine and a gurgling noise from the propeller as it drives us forward.
Being on the river here gives me a new perspective. At our bow, Optus Stadium and Perth CBD come together in a way I haven’t seen before. On our port side the apartment blocks in Rivervale tower above the riverbank. To starboard, along the Maylands Peninsula, a pair of black swans paddle around while golfers hack their way around the golf course. Neither the swans or the golfers seem to notice us as we quietly motor along. “This is what it’s all about” says Yvonne. “Just enjoying being out on the water”
And what’s not to enjoy? Being on this part of the river is a revelation to me. Sure — I’ve been to Optus stadium, crossed Matagarup Bridge and visited the cafes and restaurants at Claisebrook Cove. But it’s a totally different to sail a boat under the bridge, into the cove and tie it to the jetty compared with parking your car and walking in.
On the journey back to Maylands Yvonne explains that she wants to build the boats and source as many local materials as possible here in WA. “We are saying that we are green, and so importing boats and accessories doesn’t seem the right thing to do. Also, we need something that is built for our lifestyle, our sun and our river. So our aim is to source as much as possible from here.”
When asked when she plans to begin, she replies: “It depends on the government because I need a base with access to jetties and a small kiosk — it’s just not viable to launch the boats from public boat ramps. It’s about growing a tourism business that showcases Perth from a different angle and we just can’t grow without the government approval.”
Here’s hoping that the government steps in to support a local entrepreneur… Because having a Nauti picnic on the Swan River in an electric boat is just good clean fun.
The Nauti boat leaves from Maylands Boat Ramp, 1 Clarkson Rd, Maylands.
No skippers ticket is required but the skipper must be more than 20 years old and a maximum of 8 people are allowed on board.
A three hour cruise starts from $270 and 6 hour cruise from $480.
Guests can add a picnic platter from $45 and a gin tasting pack from $75.
For more info head to nautipicnics.com.au or phone 0439 999 301