Captain Paul's Story

Paul Willison sailing his boat

I was first bitten by the sailing bug when at the age of 21, I attended a training course on board the Brigantine “Evening Star”. I was a young Outdoor Education teacher working for the Education Department of Western Australia. We sailed the ship to the Montebello Islands, which is still one of my favourite places on the planet.

This adventure sparked a passion that has gone on to rule my life ever since.

I was so affected I took my hard saved house deposit and bought my first yacht. She was a little 24-foot timber sloop and was to become my home and learning platform into this new life.

Taking time off teaching I set out on an around the world travel adventure. Travelling by plane and sailing different boats in Hawaii, USA and Mexico. These travels strengthened my desire to obtain a bigger boat and travel under sail. They also earned me a Coxswain Certificate.

Returning to Australia I secured a job running the Department of Transport’s Maritime Training Centre in Fremantle. Here we skilled up young people to expedition along WA’s coast in a fleet of six, five-meter sailing cutters. Truly fantastic adventures. I spent five years running this centre and spent hundreds of days expeditioning, enough time to be awarded a Master Class 5 Commercial Skippers qualification.

Although I was “living the dream”, I still craved being the captain of my own ship. So in my spare time I built a 33 ft. sailing catamaran. This took me three years and was to become my home. Many great adventures were spent on board this yacht.

What an addiction. All day at work playing with boats and all my spare time…. playing with boats.

During a delivery down the west coast from Dampier to Fremantle, I got to meet an amazing gentleman who had spent 9 years building a 40 foot Wharram cat. This cat, modelled on a Polynesian voyaging canoe, was a thing of beauty. Mike had built his boat to cross oceans. She was powerful, beautiful and soon she was mine. Together we sailed for the next 20 years. She safely took me through Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and around Australia.

Upon returning from PNG I got a job running an Education Department Adventure Camp School in Dampier WA. Again taking young people on sailing expeditions through the amazing Dampier Archipelago.

After running the camp for a year I was offered a job in Bali training sailing crew for Bali Hai Cruises. Using a 65ft catamaran and crossing some of the deepest waters in the world, this job was a blast.

The six-month contract ended and I then got to explore the magnificent islands of Indonesia.

Returning to Australia I was offered a job as Mate on the sail training ship “STS Leeuwin II” Two years were spent sailing this magnificent 150 ft Barquentine the entire length of the Western Australian coastline. I was truly “living my Dream” I now had a Master Class 4 certificate and was on my way up.

Then one day a very beautiful and amazing woman walked into the ships wheelhouse. All of a sudden I did not want to go to sea alone any longer.

To test this new relationship, we set sail on board my Wharran cat to the beautiful Montebello Islands. Six months later we returned liking each other even more. We had passed the test,

but the sea was still calling. Now we were two.

I was awarded a job as mate on board the replica Dutch East Indiaman “Batavia”. This ship was bought from Holland to Sydney for the Olympics.

Following this I went looking for a job at sea that brought me home most nights. This led me to Tug boats and I became a Tug Master in North West WA driving a 34m tug boat. After a stint of tugging I tried Rig tenders and work boats. It was during this time that I realized it was teaching that I loved. I soon scored a job teaching Marine Studies at a South West college. Five very pleasant years drifted by teaching and sailing.

Then our first daughter arrived, so when she was 6 months old we set off exploring the seas on our trusty Wharram cat. Two years later our second daughter arrived. So here we were, a happy little sailing family. Could life really get any better?

When the girls were 4 and 2 and they had sailed more miles than most sailors, we sailed into Carnarvon where we stopped for work. We soon fell in love with this area. Shark Bay 40 nm south and Ningaloo Marine Park 80nm north. Offshore islands and two of the world’s best surfing waves just up the coast. A true paradise.

With a growing family we decided we needed a bigger boat so stayed put working, saving and searching the web to find a new boat.

One day I spotted Queimarla on the market. She had been built by friends of mine 18 years earlier and had just returned from a 14-year circumnavigation of the globe. She was the most beautiful boat I had ever seen. She was a dream come true. “A magic carpet to Adventure.”

Queimarla anchored at sunset

So off we set again. Our little sailing family on our dream boat. We collected her in Sydney and have been sailing on her for the past 5 years. Living simply, home schooling and sailing 24/7 together. So very special.

My eldest daughter is due to start high school and so it’s time to swallow the anchor for a while to give these amazing children a chance at the best education.

So that’s where this idea of an Adventure Sailing School began. A chance to combine my love of teaching, my long and varied maritime experience along with my extensive knowledge of the Western Australian coast.

So why not come and share an Adventure with Queimarla and me?

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International Yacht Training
Sustainable Tourism


Cape to Cape Adventure sailing school.

BSB 302-162

Acc # 1382984