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.