A Guide to Sailing in Sydney Harbour

A Guide to Sailing in Sydney Harbour

Sailing is one of the most exhilarating experiences one can ever have, and providing certain safety guidelines are adhered to, sailing in Sydney harbour is an experience not to be missed. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House make for the perfect backdrop for a day’s sailing, and it is essential to know the rules and safety guidelines when sailing in such a busy waterway. If you are planning a sailing day around Sydney Harbour, here are some important things to bear in mind.

►   Familiarise yourself – In order to safely negotiate any water, it is essential to know your vessel, and the waterway. You can familiarise yourself with Sydney Harbour by studying the charts, and if you would prefer to hire a crewed yacht for a sailing trip in Sydney Harbour, there are online boat operators who can arrange everything, while you and your group sit back and enjoy the ride. This is the preferred way to see Sydney Harbour, and with an experienced crew who know all the best vistas, the experience will be truly memorable. If you own a yacht, then you would have adequate knowledge of the vessel’s capabilities, and can enjoy the delights of such a breathtaking location.

►   Keep a Lookout – On some weekends, Sydney Harbour can be extremely busy, and slow speed is advised, and it goes without saying that there must be someone on lookout at all times. Small boats can easily change direction and speed, and with so many vessels on the water, you can’t afford to drop your guard. Of course, you can monitor commercial traffic using your radio, so it is sailboats you need to keep an eye on. If everyone is vigilant and aware, collisions can be avoided, and by adhering to the rules, sailing can be a safe and very enjoyable experience.

►   Reduce Speed if there is poor visibility, or you are approaching other vessels, and bad weather is also a reason to reduce speed. If, for any reason, you are in doubt, a slowdown is always the best policy, as it gives you more time to decide on a course of action. It is standard practice to slow down when a vessel is passing the opposite direction, as the wake can be substantial, especially in windy conditions.

►   Communications – You should have at least two forms of radio communication, with a VHF radio with channel 16, which is the universal distress frequency. Keep your radio on at all times, and it is wise to inform someone of your departure and planned return time, just to be on the safe side. The radio is the main source of information for all vessels on the harbour, and you will also receive weather reports, which is essential, as strong winds can whip up without warning.

►   Check the Weather Forecast – Bad weather can make sailing an uncomfortable experience, and you should use your own judgement about whether or not to sail. Many novice sailors will hire a yacht and have an experienced crew member on board to oversee things, and there are established yacht and catamaran operators who have a range of affordable packages, making sailing available to everyone.

►   Channel Markers – These essentially are the road markings, and the shape and colour define meaning and you need to know these. The channel markers indicate port and starboard boundaries, with port being a red, can shape, while the starboard is a green dome, and upon entering the harbour, the red port sign should be on the port side, with the green mark on the starboard side, and leaving the harbour would be the opposite. As a rule, every vessel should keep to the right of the channel, and avoid anchoring in a channel, for obvious reasons.

►   Avoid Creating a Wake – Always be aware of other traffic and avoid creating a wake that might cause instability for another vessel. The larger your vessel, the more this applies, and it is general courtesy to slow down when passing other boats, and if everyone follows the rules, sailing is both safe and extremely enjoyable.

►   Power and Sail – The two distinctly different forms of propulsion require certain rules, and when power meets sail, sail has the right of way, as a motored vessel is far more capable to make quick course changes. As a general rule, sailing boats should avoid narrow or bust channels, as these are used by heavy ships, and an inexperienced sailor might have a problem with tight manoeuvring. Remember that starboard (right) is always the direction taken to avoid another vessel coming head on, and if all this seems a bit daunting, why not hire a crewed yacht for the day? That way, you and your group can really enjoy the experience, without having to worry about navigation and other vessels.

►   Watch for Wave Height – Things can get very choppy at certain times of the year, and unless you have experience in rough sea sailing, try to avoid going out when there’s a good chance of bad weather. Wave height can vary greatly, so it is always a good idea to keep your eye on this, as it is a sure sign of approaching bad weather.

Sailing around Sydney Harbour isn’t the exclusive domain of experienced sailors, and many novices hire a part crewed yacht for the day, and they can then gain valuable experience, and with a veteran sailor on board, the novice would learn a lot. There are yacht and catamaran hire companies that work in Sydney Harbour, and if you would like to know more about hiring a vessel, an online search will point you in the right direction. Traffic can be quite heavy in the summer, as more and more families take to the water to experience Sydney from a unique perspective, and whether you sail or not, the experience is something not to be missed.


Posted By EastcoastSailing

Updated : 20th October 2021 | Words : 995 | Views : 2654

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