Sydney Harbour is a fantastic destination for boating and sailing enthusiasts. My favourite time to go boating or sailing is mid-week, when you will enjoy plenty of sea room and you’ll have a greater chance of scoring one of the free public mooring buoys .
As a commercial master working on ships in Sydney over 15 years, I have had many opportunities to search out the best locations and learn how the weather affects those places. Here are a few top boating locations in Sydney:
North Harbour / Manly – A stunning location with plenty of anchoring options available. It is used frequently by sailors during the summer months, when the typical North Easterly’s winds bring fortunate sailing conditions. Tip – Read the local weather forecast and watch out for the Southerly Busters that can quickly advance up the east-coast, which can spoil a nice day out if you’re not prepared.
Manly Cove offers a picturesque mooring location next the ferry wharf, with only a short row to shore near the enclosed swimming area. The close access to the local shops is a bonus and this area is quite protected in a North Easterly wind. Look out – for dolphins early in the morning and fairy penguins close to the wharf at twilight during the summer months.
Sydney Heads, Whale Watching – During the great whale migration, between April – December you will have a chance see the majestic humpback, southern right and even rare blue whale if you’re lucky. There is also a good chance to see pods of dolphins and flocks of different sea birds.
Note: Whales are incredibly smart and incredible mammals, you should never get too close and it is illegal to harass these beautiful creatures. Please follow these rules set out :
Advice to skippers
- Go slow when within 300m of whales and 150m of dolphins
- No more than three vessels at a time should approach whales or dolphins. Wait for your turn and don’t barge in
- Start your approach at an angle of at least 30 degrees to their direction of travel
- If a whale approaches your vessel: Slow down to ‘no wash’ speed
- Move away or disengage your vessel’s gears
- Make no sudden movement
- Minimise noise.
It is also important to check the marine weather reports for your intended area before you decide to go boating. You should thoroughly review the predicted wind and swell conditions and use this information to create a safe boating plan for your voyage. It is also essential to remember that weather can change quickly and you should take enough wet weather clothing, supplies and fuel to allow a safe return passage.
Always check the Boat Equipment list whenever you venture out on the water. The rules about lifejackets have also changed in recent years so keep that in mind. Good Tip – Keep a hand held waterproof marine VHF radio charged that can be easy accessed. A working marine radio is a very important piece of safety equipment to have.
Store Beach near Manly, is a National Park area, There are restrictions in-place which means you can’t anchor close to shore. You can however anchor about 50meters from the beach and row in using a little tender or kayak . This sandy location is generally protected and has a beautiful beach where you can see local birdlife and flora. You will feel a million miles away at this secluded spot.
Chowder Bay, near Mosman – A classic Spot, which will provide a great sheltered location in a westerly wind. The sandy beach is superb and there is even an enclosed swimming area for visitors. There is a public wharf which can be used for pick-up and drop-off passengers.
Athol bay is another popular boating destination. Sometimes the competition for the 5 public available moorings can be fierce, so make sure you are prepared to anchor. The views from Athol bay are second to none and the whole Sydney city skyline is visible with the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Fort Denison and the Taronga Zoo all in fine view. It’s a top place to view a sunset and reflect on the day.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our article, Safe Boating to you all and have a great Summer – from Capt Mike Adams.