Community spirit has saved acouple’s home and dreams of sailing Australia after their boat was beached on the Rockingham foreshore. Wild weather lashed the Perth and Peel regions last week. Wind gusts of up to 130km/h saw more than 35,000 WA homes lose power and Rockingham SES respond to reports of damage in Rockingham and Baldivis. The devastation extended to the sea. Husband and wife skippers Joe Van Der Walt and Ria Grobler had their Endurance Cutter Serenity moored at Mangles Bay on May 5. Mrs Grobler said just after 7pm, they heard “a huge bang”. “There were two ropes on the mooring and both the ropes broke,” she said. As winds of 30 to 40 knots per hour and waves standing several metres tall lashed their small boat, the couple tried desperately to avoid being beached. “We immediately started the motor and we decided to go to deeper water,” Mrs Grobler said. “So we tried to go out a bit further, but the waves kept pushing us towards the beach. “We were a bit less than 100m from the beach when we put out the anchor.” Mrs Grobler stayed in the cockpit at the back of the boat, protecting their cat Queenie as Mr Van Der Walt dropped the anchor. She said the harrowing minutes when she couldn’t see or hear her husband were “scary as hell”. “The waves were coming over; they were like tidal waves,” she said. “I was in panic mode because he couldn’t see me and I couldn’t have seen if he went overboard. “We both had lifejackets on but I was very worried.” For about half an hour, the anchored boat rocked back and forth until a sound like a “cannon shot” could be heard. “The anchor snapped,” Mrs Grobler said. “We gave it full throttle with the motor and we didn’t move. “We just kept going towards the beach and in about five to 10 minutes we hit the sand.” Mrs Grobler said the Water Police helped them get out of the water and took them to her mother’s home in Mandurah. The damage done to Serenity, which beached a few kilometres away from Mangles Bay, initially caused the couple to offer their $28,000 boat up to anyone who could afford to salvage it. But a GoFundMe page organised by the couple’s friend, Carrol Flemmer, raised nearly $6000. Mrs Grobler said she was “humbled by the love and kindness”, which had stopped them from having to give away their boat to get it off the beach. “We are gobsmacked by the sheer number of people willing to help save our home and our dream,” she said. The couple have been travelling for years since Mr Van Der Walt stopped working as a truckie in 2016 due to severe arthritis. For three years they drove around in a motor home before buying Serenity in October 2019. The couple worked tirelessly to get the boat ready for the seas and planned to sail around Australia at the start of April, before intrastate travel restrictions wrecked those plans. A Department of Transport spokeswoman strongly recommended owners of vessels on a mooring and in a pen conduct an annual check of lines and fittings and carry out maintenance required. The spokeswoman said the weather on the night of May 5 had seen more than 10 vessels break from their moorings or pens between Rockingham and Jurien Bay.