Christmas cruising in Tasmania.

Luckily for us, Heather’s Parents, Peter and Ruth had taken their Catamaran “Even Keels” down to Tasmania for the summer and had invited us down to join them for the week between Christmas and New Year.

Given the short time we where there, our cruising was limited to the area around Hobart, but this turned out to be a fantastic cruising ground with lots of nice anchorages to while away the days.

It’s about 40NM from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania to the Huon River and we had decided to get the first 15NM covered at night so we could push on for early on the 26th and arrive in Cygnet by lunch.We decided to leave the at about 10pm on Christmas day entering the Derwent River and turning South East towards Bruny Island. It was a fabulously clear night and being so far south as we left the marina there was still a hue of light across the night sky.

Six months earlier, we were anchored in a bay somewhere in Croatia, sheltering from a nasty thunderstorm. Shortly after we arrived, another Aussie boat, a Contest 43, came into the same bay to find shelter and Heather jumped in the dinghy and headed across to say hi. An hour, and a couple of vinos later I saw our dinghy making an erratic course back to Vega. Heather stumbled aboard and recounted her story. The family were called the Edward’s from Tassie and, it turned out, between gulps of wine, had a mooring buoy that was vacant and we could use if we were passing through….well now we were, what are that odds of that!

So shortly before 1am, dodging fish farms, we entered Snug Bay and with our torch illuminating the way we crept towards the shore looking for their mooring. There was a couple of boats on moorings and a few others free so we picked up one for the night, we are not actually sure it was the Edward’s buoy, but it worked all the same and being a calm night we weren’t too worried. After a 6 hour sleep, we were up and off again heading into the D’Entrecasteau Channel.

As you head south from Snug Bay there are a few navigational hazards including Middleton Shoal, Arch Rock and Ninepin Point and Butts Reef. All are clearly marked.

D’Entrecasteau Channel and North Bruny Island Anchorages

There are a lot of anchorages to explore on the north west side of Bruny Island with Barnes Bay providing some of the best all weather anchorages in this area and in most conditions you would be able to use one of the 6 or 7 anchorages to gain shelter. Just further south, on the north edge of Great Bay are a further three anchorages which are all great in calm conditions or with winds from the nor ‘east.

On the other side of the D’Entrecasteau Channel, is the town of Kettering. with its marina, chandler and 24 hour fuel.

Port Cygnet

Cygnet is located at the head of a 3NM deep inlet and is well worth a visit. There are a number of anchorages on the east side of the inlet including the famous Eggs and Bacon Bay and Deep Bay. We spent a couple of days anchored off Cygnet town. When we first arrived, we spoke to the yacht club who couldn’t advise if any moorings were free to use, but they said we could tie up to the wharf. This we did, but were soon visited by the local police who wanted us to move on. Heather showed a bit of leg,  and we were allowed to stay for 4 hours, but another yacht using the jetty got hit with a $340 fine having left their boat there for a day or two.

Once we vacated the wharf we anchored at the head of the Cygnet Inlet for two nights in about 20 knots of breeze. The holding was excellent in about 6m depth and mud. The town is funky and artsy and a nice place to chill, the local pub served great scallop pies !

 Port Huon

Further up the Huon River is Port Huon, a great little town to visit. There is good anchoring in Hospital Bay, just south of Shipwrights point and a small marina in the Kermandie River. The entrance is well marked but shallow and vessels over 1.6m draft should enter/leave near high tide. The marina and pub have the same ownership and if you eat in the pub, you can stay in the marina for free…which is a great deal!

If you fancy some pilotage, you can head further up the Huon to Franklin and its wooden boat school. But sadly we didn’t have the time.

Throughout our trip the weather was classic Tasmania. No wind, then 23knots of wind. Sun. Then Rain. Then wind and rain. Then wind rain and sun…was that sleet…? It reminded me very much of sailing in the UK and despite the weather I would love to come back and explore further.

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