Home' Afloat : AFLOAT January 2015 Contents Take monthly with water January 2015 59
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
We’ve given you the good oil on two of the most popular
anchorages in Australia: Coaster’s Retreat aka The
Basin in Pittwater, and Athol Bay on Sydney Harbour.
These iconic and historic boating boltholes will be overflowing
all summer. But it’s about now that pleasure boaters go hunting
for somewhere to get away from the madding crowds.
The options are limited but not compromised for comfort on
Sydney Harbour. You will find the popular dormitory upstream
in Middle Harbour, where protection can be sought from both
southerlies and northeasters. There are casual mooring buoys
and plenty of room to anchor over a mud bottom with a good
hold in both Sugarloaf and Bantry bays.
As prosaic as these suburban settings may seem, Sugarloaf
and Bantry certainly provide a languid escape from fast-paced
Sydney. The former, with its towering and verdant namesake
Sugarloaf Hill, offers a unique backdrop and welcome windbreak
from winter westerlies. Either side of the promontory are
mangrove-lined creeks for exploring in your tender, kayak or SUP.
You can anchor quite a way up the northern creek in Castle
Cove, near the rock wall opposite a small wooden ramp and
boatshed. However, there’s not so much water in Crag Cove to
the south, where the fishing for flathead with lures is better. At
the mouth of the bay, the stairs to the water on the northern
foreshore mark an extremely deep hole harbouring big jewfish,
kingfish and practising Navy divers at times.
Between the four courtesy moorings and the anchoring space,
there’s room for a fair crowd in Sugarloaf Bay and raft-ups are
common. The sleeping is hard to beat, with mirror conditions,
dewy mornings, and visitations from the ducks and cappuccino
boat delivering daily papers.
But for something even more unique, Bantry Bay is incredible.
The old ammunition sheds and surrounding Garigal National
Park create a stunning setting in Sydney. There are eight public
moorings, room to pull a tender into the wharf for a gas barbecue
in the National Park, and excellent paddling on flat water. Strike
out for Roseville Marina for breakfast or launch the RIB and tow
the tykes in the main Middle Harbour stream.
Beyond which are a few other options for anchoring in upper
Middle Harbour, but you’re likely to be rocked by the morning
fishos launching from Roseville Ramp. Besides, at this time of year
many more of us set sail and motor for the upper Hawkesbury,
where you are spoilt for choice in respect of boating getaways.
Focussing on the upstream anchorages, the tributary of
Smiths Creek just beyond from Cottage Point on Cowan Creek
has a steadfast following among boating buffs who know exactly
how to position their yachts and cruisers in this deep and
accommodating waterway for maximum pleasure.
The no-wash 8-knot go-slow zone for the whole of Smiths
Creek adds to the serenity and allows for sternline anchoring
pretty much along the whole of the meandering few miles. If you’re
lucky you might score one of the 10 moorings in the creek, though
locals prefer to raft-up on their favourite shorelines and fixate
on the Aussie bush, the chanting cicadas and the limpid water.
Stingray Bay near the mouth offers the most immediate escape
and you can overnight here just moments from the ramp and
marina in Akuna Bay and Bobbin Head, returning from a sortie
without even copping a drop of water aboard. Besides chilling,
the bay has blue crabs for trapping, some flathead on the flats,
and a feeder creek with freshwater holes for a brisk bath with
the skinks in summer.
Twilight Bay isn’t too dissimilar and there’s clear water around
the rocky shores for diving near the entrance. But these bays
and the foreshore anchorages favoured along the way are mere
distractions for the mob making a beeline for Kindred Bay in the
headwaters. There’s boating bliss to be found here, nigh a ripple,
four moorings, and room to anchor close to shore with a sternline
around a rock (National Parks don’t allow you to tie to trees).
In upper Smiths Creek you will find serious float therapy. Let
it all hang out, watch the kids learn to paddle and sail, catch
flathead and bream on the flats, take the tender up the creek and
drift back down on the falling tide, and receive the odd phone
call and text between turning the pages of a book.
A few days up the creek with a paddle, immersing yourself
in the Aussie boating lifestyle and meeting likeminded crew, is
all you need to recharge the batteries. If you can’t get away a
jut-add-water fix in Middle Harbour will suffice. h
Bantry Bay brekkie.
Smiths Creek raft-up.
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