Sailing in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel around Bruny Island

D’Entrecasteaux Channel

by John Quinn on 16 Nov 2005

This is Tasmania’s most popular cruising ground, featuring miles of sheltered waters and safe, secluded havens between mainland Tasmania and the beautiful Bruny Island. The channel is only about two hours’ sail from Hobart, dependent on the wind of course. The waterway is entered between Pierson’s Point and Dennes Point on Bruny Island, from where you can sail south across North West Bay to Barnes Bay, a highly popular overnight destination for the weekend sailor, is less than an hour’s sailing from Pierson’s Point.

Barnes Bay offers a choice of several safe anchorages, and favourites include Sykes Cove, Alexanders, The Duck Pond and the Quarantines.

Across from Barnes Bay is Kettering, home of cruising yachts, where there are hundreds of boats in marina berths or moored in Little Oyster Cove. Kettering offers the visiting sailor a wide range of facilities at Oyster Cove Marina and South Haven Marina (all marina and facility details are listed at the end). In addition the visitor can secure boating equipment and distillate and fresh water from the Oyster Cove Chandlery and Kettering Marine. There are slipway facilities, and shipwrights are generally available to assist with any serious problem.

Just a few miles south of Kettering is Peppermint Bay. Here the visiting sailor and crew can moor the boat or come alongside the small public jetty so they can sample the best of the state’s food and wine. A marina complex is under consideration.

Sailing further south offers a range of other safe anchorages on both sides of the channel – from Snake Bay, Missionary Bay through to Little Fancy and Simpsons Bay. Drop a line and you’re almost guaranteed a flathead!

Past Simpsons Point, the D’Entrecasteaux Channel moves into more open water where such delights as Partridge Island, the fishing villages of Dover and Southport, and the Huon River offer magnificent scenery and some delightful anchorages. An hour’s sail up the Huon River brings you to Port Cygnet a delightful village – the pub lunch is well worth the short walk to town and a night moored out side the boats in Copper Alley Bay will guarantee a peaceful night in most weather. For those interested in traditional boat building the Wooden Boat School is further up the river at Franklin.

Cruising yachts can sail south into the historically important Recherche Bay, gateway to the southwest wilderness. While an attraction in itself, Recherche is the stepping stone to Port Davey. This voyage is not for the faint-hearted, but rewards the adventurer with its pristine beauty and virtually primitive, untouched grandeur.

Alternatively, you can sail east and circumnavigate Bruny Island through The Friars to Adventure Bay where both Cook and Bligh took on water and timber.

Golden Globe Round the World Yacht Race

The fourth placed competitor in the Race – Susie Goodall ( the youngest and only female competitor) is due in Hobart on Thursday 1st November 2018.

With over half the fleet now either retired or rescued and some horrendous storms encountered so far, it truly is a remarkable effort by Susie to be still in the race.

SailTas will be out to greet Susie when she anchors off Kingston Beach for a required stop over.

Anyone wanting to join the welcoming party please contact us on mobile 0412480424.

SailTas Nova Commendation

SailTas is delighted to have received commendation for the Southern Stars of Tourism Nova Award. We were commended for providing a range of skippered sailing cruises and offering guests the opportunity to sail the vessel, fish, dive, surf and beach comb or simply to kick back and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the D’entrecasteaux Channel.


In harnessing the power of the wind, SailTas glides soundlessly across the water leaving only a light trail of wake behind. Cruising at a leisurely pace through marine and birdlife habitats SailTas guests are given the opportunity to see various species in their natural environment. Many guests are novices to sailing and genuinely enjoyed being introduced to the sport where their desire to learn more is ignited.


As a tourism venture in Kettering, SailTas offers an alternative to spending a day in the car and driving the length of Bruny Island. The company has formed associations with local food and wine businesses such as ‘Hughes and Hughes Wines’ and ‘Fed Up Foods’ who ensure guests are indulged with locally sourced fresh and gourmet produce and wines. SailTas has also formed strategic alliances with Kettering based accommodation providers such as Bruny Vista Cabin. The business has piqued the interest of sailing enthusiasts across the world, drawing visitors from Norway, The United States, China as well as mainland Australia, further promoting the Channel and Bruny Island as a holiday destination.

All aboard for Business and Pleasure

  • Group listening to the safety briefing
    Assembled for safety briefing

Sailtas is often chosen by businesses to provide a day out for corporate guests and their families or for team building within the organisation. In establishing any business partnership it is important to know and trust the people you are to be working with. Often you only get to fully appreciate a persons skills and qualities when you see them interacting with their families and friends. Sharing different experiences and challenges also offers insights into how they might respond in various contexts. It isn’t surprising that  Sailtas frequently takes groups of up to twelve people associated with a business partnership for an all-day sail. A typical example of one of these cruises is detailed as follows:

Sailtas received a booking requesting premium seafood for a group of twelve Chinese business partners and their families. While our standard seafood chowder, cheese and fruit platters are quality Tasmanian produce, the group also requested fresh crayfish, abalone, oysters and prawns which could be  barbecued on board or served ‘au naturale’. Four children were included in the group, three requiring Sailtas to supply the appropriate sized child’s life jacket. Most of the group had never sailed before.

We provided a dockside safety briefing followed by a tour through the boat where we pointed out the features and facilities, demonstrated the use of equipment and how best to manoeuvre through the boat. We cast off and headed up the Channel towards the Salmon Farms off Shepherds Hill to give our guests a glimpse of the seals that usually linger close to the fish pens. While our guests were not in the business of salmon farming, the exercise prompted a discussion about the business success salmon farming has experienced. The enthusiasm of the children  looking for seals added to the general feeling of optimism on board.

Feeling comfortable with the gentle motion of sailing, a few people felt confident enough to take a turn at helming the boat. A young woman, attentive to the subtle changes in wind and the angle of telltales on the sail  proved most adept at keeping the yacht on course. Buoyed by her success she shed her quiet, demure demeanour and shared stories about her experiences in China and her student life in Canada. The conversation that followed, flowed through the cockpit revealing how worldly this group was, as most had studied and worked abroad.

At midday we headed into Nebraska Beach to give everyone the opportunity to have a wander ashore, particularly as the children wanted to run and play on the beach. We lowered the dingy, while our guests donned life jackets, rolled up the legs of their trousers for a beach landing and selected a beach balls, cricket set and a frisbee to play onshore. It took four trips in the dingy to ferry the entire group ashore and back to the boat, so we were delighted that one of our guests wanted to stay onboard and help us prepare and barbecue the crayfish and abalone while the others played.

With everyone back on board, lunch was served along with premium Tasmanian wines and craft beer. While the freshly barbecued seafood was superb, the real winners were the bowls of seafood chowder which warmed the hands and stomach. After lunch the fishing rods were brought out and lines were cast into the bay without a bite being felt. We hoisted sail as the wind had picked up several knots,  perfect conditions for an exhilarating sail. Our group preferred to find another sandy bay were they hoped to find a flathead lair, content to fish idily on the foredeck with a drink and the sun reflecting off the water.


Derwent River and overnight in Sullivan’s Cove


Setting out from Kettering for an overnight, two day sail saw us equipped for every eventuality. We had wind proof jackets, sneakers and beanies for the sail; bathers, sunhats and sandals for the beach; and frocks, handbags and heels for our night out in Hobart.


We had no intention of grinding winches, hauling halyards or even helming, ours was to be a leisure cruise. Jamie assured us Bruny Island would provide shelter from ocean borne winds and swell until we reached the Derwent River where the breeze would take us to our lunch destination off the sandy beach of Mary Ann Bay. We lounged in the comfy cushions on deck as the boat slipped through the silky smooth waters of the Channel, relieved that this wasn’t a cruise to make you sea sick.


The mesmerising music on the stereo and the impressive image of Mount Wellington rising from the landscape, made me feel relaxed and reflective, my thoughts drifted to a past when indigenous people roamed the countryside. Jamie shared some of the stories he knew about the fate of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Bruny Island, the Nuenonne group. I was particularly moved by the story of Truganini whose life reflected the tragic history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. We passed Oyster Cove, where Truganini spent her last years in a camp, her ashes strewn in the waters we sailed.


A seal floated in the distance, its telltale flippers rising above the water line. It seemed satiated after having possibly fed on ‘convict’ salmon, escapees from the fish farms hugging the entrance to North West Bay. We glided gently towards the slumbering seal. Sensing our approach, it raised a startled head above the surface before diving deeply to disappear from sight.


We had tea and coffee in the lee of the cliff at the far end of Nebraska Beach where we soaked up the morning sun under a radiant blue sky. Jamie told us the breeze would become lively as we approached the open waters of the Derwent River. Sure enough, as we rounded the point at Tinderbox, a playful wind filled our sails and the yacht gathered speed. We had fun trying to master the art of moving around at an angle and clambered down to the cabin where our jackets and beanies were stowed. Back on deck in warmer clothing, we tried to maintain yoga and Pilates holds as the yacht leaned hard to port with each powerful bullet of wind.


Averaging a speed of seven and a half knots in 20 knot winds we crossed the mighty Derwent into the shelter of  Mary Ann Bay. Protected from the winds, the bay was warm and still, a sharp contrast to what we had just experienced. Ravenous, we were served huge bowls of locally caught seafood chowder with enormous slabs of fresh crusty bread, Tasmanian cheeses, locally grown fruit and premium Tasmanian wines. It was all too comfortable. To stop myself from thinking it was all a dream, I plunged into the cool water off the back of the boat.


Jamie lowered the dingy and while I swam to the beach, the others donned lifejackets and climbed into the dingy to swim and snorkel from the safety of the shore. The water was clear, but besides a few fish swimming between the kelp beds, there wasn’t much to hold my interest underwater. I walked along the beach to the headland where I startled two young chicks from their nesting place. The parent (a large sea bird) called the chick urgently from the safety of the water and the chicks danced around apprehensively on the edge of the rock before making what might possibly have been their first plunge. Not wishing to disturb them I turned around and watched the little waterborne family paddle back to the safety of their rocky ledge.


Back on board the yacht we had warm showers off the transom and went below to dress and do our hair and makeup for our evening out in Hobart. We need not have bothered with the hair, before long we were back on the windswept deck admiring the sight of the city nestled beneath Mount Wellington, our hair streaming loose in the wind.


Sullivan’s Cove was fun, we docked next to several other cruising yachts at the time of day all seafaring folk kick back to enjoy a happy hour. Wine and cheeses were served and we joined in the good natured banter exchanged between boats. As the light grew dim we slipped on our heels and made our way through the throng of people crowding the dockside bars and restaurants to the table we’d reserved for our cocktails and seafood banquet. Relaxed and happy we partied on, knowing our floating home and comfy beds were waiting just around the corner.