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Yachting on Sydney Harbour

The Novice Skipper's Guide To Seeing Sydney by Sailboat

Few harbour cities in the world capture the collective imagination quite like Sydney. Granted, it doesn’t hurt when two of the nation’s most recognisable man-made attractions, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, call this place harbour home. But, there’s more to Sydney than just iconic badges of national identity; given the size and intricate shape of the harbour, there are endless pockets to explore. And, one of the most rewarding ways to explore Sydney is by sailboat.

Now, like anything worth pursuing, sailing is not something you can immediately jump into without instruction, not unless you have a genuine thirst for disaster. The great thing about Sydney though, and its harbour in particular, is that you can explore it by sailboat at any level. And, say you’ve recently felt the urge to give sailing a try, having had your interest piqued by browsing charter boats for sale. Well, to keep that flame of interest alive and flickering, here’s a simple but helpful guide to seeing Sydney by sailboat.

School’s outside for the Summer.

As we said, sailing is not something you pick up on your own just by doing it, the way you might, say, learn to skip. You need to take lessons. Luckily, Sydney has countless sailing schools that cater for people of all ages, regardless of skill. They’re also found right across the city, which means you can choose a school close to where you are living or staying, or perhaps choose one in a part of the harbour that is less busy or less susceptible to rough conditions.

And even if you’ve had lessons in the past and feel confident enough to get started, if this is your first time sailing in Sydney Harbour, we still suggest that you have at least one lesson. The reason we suggest this is because Sydney Harbour, like any other harbour, is unique, with its own moods and nuances, ones that may not appear obvious the first time you sail it. A lesson from a local expert will not only help prepare for the sailing itself, but they’ll be able to help you recognise the quirks of the harbour, so that you’re not caught off guard out on the water.

Your bucket list.

Once you have taken lessons and have been out a few times, practising all the basics, then you can focus on visiting different places in the harbour. And this is where the fun begins. With Sydney Harbour, you could spend weeks sailing around it and not visit the same place twice. What’s better is that almost all of these places will be worth a second, even a third, visit. While there are definitely too many places to list in one article, here are a few that you should definitely consider.

Clifton Gardens

One thing you’ll come to realise when you sail around Sydney is that there are places that make you think ‘am I still in Sydney?’ Clifton Gardens is one such place. This charming little beach, secluded from the nearby suburb of Mosman by the Clifton Gardens Reserve, has all you need for the day. There’s a jetty to fish from, shark nets off the beach so you and your family can swim, and if you haven’t packed your lunch for the day, the Gunners Barracks cafe.

Sirius Cove

Just around the corner (or corners) from Clifton Gardens is another fabulous little pocket of a beach, Sirius Cove. This cove is a real family spot, with a large picnic area and playground, as well as being dog friendly, which means you can bring the furry member of your family along. And, if you plan on staying there all day, the Sirius Cove Reserve is a great starting point for the many walking trails that line this part of the harbour.

Athol Bay

Another wonderful place nearby is Athol Bay. And when you anchor here you’ll immediately understand why. Sitting right in front of Taronga Zoo and looking back toward the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this is, understandably, a very popular place on New Year’s Eve. Outside of that crazy evening, it's still popular, but worth it, as it’s fairly protected from the wind, making it great for a relaxing swim.

Do things the right way.

Once you’ve made a list of places you want to sail to, the next, and arguably the most important, thing to consider is where you are able to anchor. While there are jetties and moorings scattered throughout the harbour, you need to make sure they are open to the public and not private. The last thing you want to do is anchor somewhere and start to relax, only to find your tranquil day interrupted by a visit from the authorities.

This can be easily avoided though by visiting the appropriate sites, which will explain everything you need to know in clear detail, from how to properly moor your boat, to the different kinds of moorings, which are identified by colour.

What’s great about exploring Sydney by sailboat is that once you’ve learned the right lessons and know how to sail within the rules of the law, there really is no right or wrong way to explore. You’ll find the more you sail and the more confident you get the more places will appear on your radar. Now, start practising those knots and get out there!

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