Tasmania is Calling! – A Guide for Cruising South To Tasmania

by Ian Kuhl on October 24, 2015

in Featured, Franklin, Franklin Marina, Franklin Marine, Huon Valley, Sailing Adventures, Tasmania

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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 are returning for another cruise you may wish to visit the more remote and alluring anchorages such as Port Davey, Bathurst and Macquarie Harbour.

Following 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 to Hobart fleet occur because the race starts on Boxing Day, period. Those skippers unfortunately do not have the luxury of waiting for a good weather window!

There are still regular strong sou’wester changes rolling through every week or so in late December, but you can dodge between them if you need to come at this time.

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 (more on these free, must-use services here).

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 the need be.

Point Perpendicular - northern entrance to Jervis Bay

Point Perpendicular – northern entrance to Jervis Bay

Passing Point Perpendicular – Entering Jervis Bay

Passing Point Perpendicular – Entering Jervis Bay

5 public moorings at the "Hole in the Wall" anchorage – Scottish Rocks in foreground

5 public moorings at the “Hole in the Wall” anchorage – Scottish Rocks in foreground

Anchored off Scottish Rocks – outside seagrass beds over 10m

Anchored off Scottish Rocks – outside seagrass beds over 10m

Departing Jervis Bay

Departing Jervis Bay

Heading south from Jervis Bay passing between Narooma and Montague Island as a quick shortcut

Heading south from Jervis Bay – passing between Narooma and Montague Island as a quick shortcut

After entering Eden you will observe the woodchip loader ahead and the Navy jetty behind – anchor behind both

After entering Eden you will observe the woodchip loader ahead and the Navy jetty behind – anchor behind both

Anchored behind Navy Jetty in East Boyd Bay – very secure location

Anchored behind Navy Jetty in East Boyd Bay – very secure location

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.

Edrom Lodge – the Boyd family hotel from the whaling days

Edrom Lodge – the Boyd family hotel from the whaling days

Anchorage in Eden's Snug Cove from the old Canary Jetty – anchor outside of the moorings

Anchorage in Eden’s Snug Cove from the old Canary Jetty – anchor outside of the moorings

Sydney–Hobart boat Arctos fuelling up on the fuel dock before stepping out into a gale

Sydney–Hobart boat Arctos fuelling up on the fuel dock before stepping out into a gale

Neighbors on Karajas (Nordhavn 65) – last seen in Cygnet

Neighbors on Karajas (Nordhavn 65) – last seen in Cygnet

having-a-walk-on-eden-beach

Having a walk on Eden Beach

Dinghy ramp in Eden Harbor – takeaway restaurant and chandlery close-by.

Dinghy ramp in Eden Harbor – takeaway restaurant and chandlery close-by.

bern-cuthberston-arrived-in-norfolk-on-17-10-98-see-link-to-story-wed-love-to-see-this-plaque-restored

Bern Cuthberston arrived in “Norfolk” on 17/10/1998. Click image for more information on Bern & “Norfolk”. We’d love to see this plaque restored!

Arctos departing Eden – the beach in background is good for a walk!

Arctos departing Eden – the beach in background is good for a walk!

Tightening the manifold bolts

Tightening the manifold bolts

Trusty Bahco tools make the job easy!

Trusty Bahco tools make the job easy!

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 until 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.

Departing Eden – Green Cape Lighthouse is your jump off point into Bass Strait

Departing Eden – Green Cape Lighthouse is your jump off point into Bass Strait

Green Cape Lighthouse

Green Cape Lighthouse

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, as every hour may count as you close the Tasmanian coast.

cape-howe-final-sight-of-land-as-you-head-into-bass-strait

Cape Howe – Last sight of land as you head into Bass Strait

Settle the boat down into watches and set a course virtually due south for Wineglass Bay, located half way down the Tasmanian east coast.

bass-strait-sunset

Bass Strait Sunset

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 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 Australian Wooden Boat Festival is this February and is the perfect final destination for that cruise you’ve always been dreaming of. Find out more about the largest wooden boat festival in the southern hemisphere here.

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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.

In some conditions you can anchor further north at Binalong Bay, which has good protection from S.W. to N.W. winds – but not from N.E. swell.

Approaching Binalong Bay – the first easy anchorage after the crossing

Approaching Binalong Bay – the first easy anchorage after the crossing

Anchor winch service in Binalong Bay – too much salt in the Strait!

Anchor winch service in Binalong Bay – too much salt in the Strait!

Anchored in Binalong Bay – viewed from Boat Harbor Point

Anchored in Binalong Bay – viewed from Boat Harbor Point

Boat Harbor Point Gulch – great dinghy spot with public phone and free wifi (but no shops!)

Boat Harbor Point Gulch – great dinghy spot with public phone and free wifi (but no shops!)

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 (we will cover the route options in another article).

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.

You can count down the distance to Wineglass Bay, which is the first good anchorage providing shelter from any southwest change. The 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.

Track showing entrance and departure from Wineglass

Track showing entrance and departure from Wineglass

Thouin Bay – southern entrance to Wineglass Bay on Port side

Thouin Bay – southern entrance to Wineglass Bay on Port side

Northern Entrance to Wineglass – Sleepy Bay is a good anchorage in N.E

Northern Entrance to Wineglass – Sleepy Bay is a good anchorage in N.E

Mt Freycinet and Wineglass Bay Beach

Mt Freycinet and Wineglass Bay Beach

Quiet Corner – perfect anchorage and swell-free dinghy landing beach

Quiet Corner – perfect anchorage and swell-free dinghy landing beach

Departing Wineglass with Lookout Peak in Centre

Departing Wineglass with Lookout Peak in Centre

After a rest in Wineglass Bay, head south for the Schouten passage, where a good anchorage is to be had. It is then 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.

Maria Island

Maria 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. It is worth taking a look at the entrance on Google Earth if you decide to take this route.

I personally prefer the trip around Tasman Island, with Fortescue Bay providing a good anchorage before it, and Port Arthur after Tasman Island.

Looking back at Shouten Island at Mt Daedalus

Looking back at Shouten Island at Mt Daedalus

Fortescue Bay Beach

Fortescue Bay Beach

Looking out to the Hippolytes off the Tasman Peninsula

Looking out to the Hippolytes off the Tasman Peninsula

Looking east from a snug anchorage in Fortescue Bay

Looking east from a snug anchorage in Fortescue Bay

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.

The Lanterns as you depart Fortescue Bay

The Lanterns as you depart Fortescue Bay

The Lanterns from the south – after leaving Fortescue Bay

The Lanterns from the south – after leaving Fortescue Bay

The Organ Pipes (Cathedral Rock) – Cape Pillar

The Organ Pipes (Cathedral Rock) – Cape Pillar

Entering Storm Bay

Entering Storm Bay

The Iron Pot – The rough stuff is over!

The Iron Pot – The rough stuff is over!

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.

Coming into Port Cygnet after a trip up The Channel

Coming into Port Cygnet after a trip up The Channel

Coming up the Huon River, approaching the Port of Franklin

Coming up the Huon River, approaching the Port of Franklin


The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is this February and is the perfect final destination for that cruise you’ve always been dreaming of. Find out more about the largest wooden boat festival in the southern hemisphere here.

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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, especially with the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart this year.
We hope to see you there!

You’ll find heaps more information on weather and cruising guides on our website – take a look below for some related stories.

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