Ariadne’s Stomping Ground

Ariadne’s Clew’s home base, where we have a permanent floating marina berth, is the Bellerive Yacht Club, on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. This is a very active yacht club, with lots of racing fixtures from the casual and enjoyable twilight series to the competitive pennant series. It is also home of the Crown Series Regatta every February, the biggest racing regatta in Tasmania. BYC also has its share of purely cruising yachts as well as power boats. See more about BYC here: http://www.belleriveyachtclub.com.au/

Since we brought Ariadne’s Clew to Bellerive we have entered her in every twilight racing series. Held on a Wednesday evening during daylight savings (October to March) these are very social races, with no spinnakers allowed, reducing the amount of crew work, and each evening ends with dinner in the clubhouse. Points are tallied and winners in each division receive a prize – we have clocked up a few wins in our time and scored our fair share of BYC t-shirts and a few bottles of wine.

Our racing has also included a couple of autumn two-handed series. Derek and Tim, our oldest son, take these on – two-handed means that Derek helms the boat and the remaining crew member does all the rest of the work – hence I don’t put up my hand for that one! As well as the two-handed we have been known to enter the odd long race and regatta, the Crown Series included. Our favourite regattas are the three which make up the Channel series: the Port Huon Regatta in spring, The Cygnet Regatta in summer and the Port Esperance Regatta at Easter. Each of these regattas includes one or two long races, as well as a harbour race around the ‘cans’. The ‘Pipe Opener’, first race of the Port Huon Regatta, is the most challenging. It begins in Hobart at dusk, and crews sail through the night down the Derwent, turn right into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, then, at around two in the morning, turn right again into the Huon River to finish near Garden Island. Most years we have experienced very light conditions in the Channel, and enjoyed the moonlit quiet, however this time of year is very unpredictable and one year the race was abandoned after the fleet attempted to turn the corner into the Channel to the accompaniment of 50+ knot head-winds and the biggest seas I’ve ever seen in the usually flat Channel. Sadly that year one sailor was drowned when he fell from his yacht. Needless to say, full safety gear is a requirement and we take plenty of precautions!

But racing isn’t our main reason for sailing. South-eastern Tasmania has some of the best cruising waters in the world, with numerous sheltered waterways studded with pretty anchorages that provide protection from the weather.

All our favourite cruising waters are shown in this map – courtesy of Paddeln

Our water may not be as warm as other popular cruising grounds (ranging from around 15 to 22 degrees) nor our weather as stable, but we have a much larger area to explore, and share it with a much smaller number of boats. This means that even at the most popular times of the year you can share an anchorage with less than half a dozen other boats, and if you so desire, can usually find a spot to anchor on your own. Add to this easy access to a number of national parks, reserves and uninhabited and unspoiled coastlines with walking tracks and beaches to explore, an abundance of wildlife and the odd marina or easily accessible shop, restaurant or attraction, and you have a delightful holiday in your own mobile home.

Our favourite and most frequented spots for a short to mid-length cruise are the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Fredrick Henry Bay/Norfolk Bay. This latter area is quite familiar to us from land as our house overlooks the western reaches of Fredrick Henry Bay. Our popular anchorages are Lime Bay,

For a longer cruise we can sail around the Tasman Peninsula, stopping by Nubeena, Port Arthur, Fortescue Bay (a great little anchorage in Canoe Bay) and back through the Dunalley Canal (oh, the power of being able to stop the traffic while you motor through!), or further on to Maria Island (Chinamans Bay), Triabunna, Schouten Island, Schouten Passage and Wineglass Bay.

South we can cruise the entire length of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel (favourite spots are Quarantine Bay, Snake Island, Missionary Bay, Simpsons Point, Little Taylors Bay and Great Taylors Bay), head up the Huon River to Cygnet or Port Huon, or head further south to Dover, Southport or Recherche Bay. For a long expedition Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour is a prime destination. We spent a few weeks in this area in January 2012, and are planning on returning this year – late summer or early autumn. The Port Davey Marine Reserve is a very remote area, and is part of the Southwest National Park and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is a unique environment. You can find out more here: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=3126

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