[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Feature image of Bathurst Harbour courtesy of Ballantyne Photography. Visit the website here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This is a call to action for all our mainland friends in Sydney and northwards, our friends in Melbourne, Adelaide and the west. It’s time to get ready to cruise south for that trip you have always planned!
If you have already done the business and are returning for another Tassie cruise, you may wish to visit the more remote and alluring anchorages such as Port Davey, Bathurst and Macquarie Harbours. What follows here is a plan for sailing to Tasmania from the East Coast of the Australian Mainland. It’s not a difficult trip south down the east coast over Bass Strait and down the east coast of Tasmania, if you plan the passage and choose the best time of the year. The difficult conditions often encountered by the Sydney – Hobart fleet occur because the race starts on Boxing Day. Those skippers do not have the luxury of waiting for a good weather window! There are still regular strong sou’westerly changes rolling through every week or so in late December, but you can dodge between them if you need to come at this time of year.
Get your boat ready for two to three days at sea, with possible heavy weather, along with some fast running before the strong north easterlies that build before southerly changes come through. Use the multiple weather forecasting services that are now available. Watching forecasts seven days out always makes planning easier. Sea surface temperature web sites give you details of currents, so you can dodge counter-currents that can cost you three knots of boat speed.
To start your passage, make your way south to Eden; there are several ports beforehand where you can take refuge in, if need be. Once in Eden you can fix and tune the boat as necessary, enjoy the local Fishermen’s Club (providing showers and excellent food), whilst you wait and listen to the weather forecast. When you’re ready to get away from the dock, anchor behind the wood chip pier in the SE corner of Twofold Bay. This is a good place to wait out the last of the southerly whilst getting ready for the big jump. Boat speed is critical in getting over Bass Strait, so when you find a nice northerly change coming through go out and meet it as the southerly dies down. If there is too much swell, wait a few hours. Get the northerly as soon as you can, even if at night or first light. Every hour may count as you close the Tasmanian coast.
Settle the boat down into watches and set a course virtually due south for Wineglass Bay, located half way down the Tasmanian east coast. If you have good following wind, pole out, use a headsail or kite during the day to get some boat speed. If you find only light winds, start motoring and keep up a speed of at least six knots; more is better if you can. As the northerly wind builds you can shut down the motor and save half a tank of fuel – this might be useful when closing the Tasmanian coast. The northerly changes will allow about 48-60 hours of good wind, which is enough time to allow a forty-foot cruising yacht to make Wineglass Bay from Eden.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1039″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Generally, the stronger the north easterly, the stronger the southwest change that will meet it. If it’s blowing hard from the north go like hell to make use of it whilst you can. February, March and April can often give days of no or light wind allowing an easy motor sail across, with roast dinners and a glass of red at sundown. It’s best to follow the rhumb line and not follow the coast around into Bass Strait as strong currents can add a lot of time. By getting out into the deep you get away from shallow areas with counter currents, and it is a much shorter route
Keep your watches going with lots of cups of tea and lots of water. Drinking liquids is essential so you don’t get tired and irritable after a few days. Water makes you happy. Use small bottles and refill if need be so you can drink whilst in the cockpit. Coffee cups with lids and hook handles hang on the binnacle nicely. I find the oven is great on passages, as you can roast a big meal with no hot pots of liquid, it smells good, warms the cabin and everyone loves it.
The navigation is easy – just head south and go fast. Be ready to punch into some current as you close the Tasmanian coast as it can sweep right around the bottom of Tassie. Count down the distance to Wineglass Bay, which is the first good anchorage providing shelter from any southwest change. This anchorage is well protected from the swell, as well as being an awesome place with several great spots to drop the pick, including the corner if you can grab it.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1037″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1040″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]After a rest in Wineglass Bay, head south for the Schouten passage, where there is good anchorage. Then it’s time to decide if you want to go through the Denison Canal and take the shortcut via Dunalley, or follow the scenic route around Tasman Island. If time is pressing and you have less than two metres of draft, you can negotiate the tricky entrance to the canal and get through the lake to Dunalley with a high tide. I prefer the trip around Tasman Island, with Fortescue Bay providing a good anchorage before it, and Port Arthur after it. This option makes for easy day hops, with fantastic towering cliffs always in view. A sail then across Storm Bay to anchor in Adventure Bay on Bruny Island is a nice way to wind down after the passage.
Alternatively, you can head down the channel between Bruny Island and the Tasmanian coast to the enchanting Huon River estuary, or just head straight up the Derwent into Hobart Town and the delights of its various marinas and docks. I hope this gets you inspired to head south this season and enjoy the delights of cruising Tasmania! There is so much here to see and do. You will find more information on weather and cruising guides on the Franklin Marine website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]