Things to do in Hobart, Hobart Yachts sailing trip review: Call me captain

Just refer to me as "Captain" from now on. That's all I ask.

It's my first time steering a yacht. It is, in fact, my first time on a yacht. Yet here I am, on the wheel, gently guiding the 62-footer up the Derwent towards Hobart.

It's been a dynamic, yet relaxed, morning. I started out by taking a short stroll from my hotel on the Hobart waterfront (the Henry Jones Art Hotel) to the offices of Tasmanian Air Adventures on the Kings Pier Marina.

There's no airstrip to be found here – instead, I'm boarding a float plane that will use the river as its runway before it takes off for a scenic flight along the Derwent before landing again to rendezvous with my yacht.

I squeeze in with the other passengers on board the six-seater DeHavilland DHC-2 Beavers – a Canadian-built aircraft that also happens to be the world's most popular seaplane. We're soon on our way and it's surprising how quickly the plane gets airborne despite using the relatively choppy surface of the water as an airstrip.

It's overcast but the views are still great as we fly down the Derwent towards the river's mouth. We spot the awaiting yacht and come in for a surprisingly smooth landing. I clamber out of the plane into a waiting dingy, which takes me over to the Helsal IV, owned by tour and charter operator Hobart Yachts.

I'm welcomed aboard by the friendly crew but soon discover there is an air of disappointment among them – there is no wind. We are becalmed.

This means relying on the noisy motor, and not the sails, to to take us back up the river for the scenic, relaxed return journey to Hobart. But first the motor revs up and takes us to a pretty cove where we enjoy lunch and a few drinks on board.

While we're enjoying the food, the sun finally breaks through and quickly starts to burn away the remaining clouds. It's mid-summer, but this is Tasmania, so while much of the rest of the nation swelters under a heatwave, it's still cool enough for me to wear a jumper despite the sunshine (though, I discover that night, not cool enough to get away with not using sunscreen – my face is red and marked by some embarassingly obvious sunglass lines) .

Advertisement

There's more good news – the wind picks up, meaning we can sail, for real this time, for the rest of the journey. The crew springs into action, pulling off covers, tying ropes and winding winches. It's an impressive spectacle and when the spinnaker is finally set, billowing out in front of the yacht, I have a vague feeling that I've stepped into an episode of seafaring high adventure series Hornblower.

We sit back and enjoy the ride – the quiet of being blown by a gentle breeze is so much more pleasant than listening to the growl of a motor.

As Hobart comes into view though, I'm offered the chance to take the wheel and I can't resist the opportunity to live out my boyhood fantasies of captaining a vessel. The key, I'm told, is to avoid oversteering, to line up the bow with a landmark ahead and gently correct our course as the current and wind pushes us around.

I find it surprisingly easy to stay on course (the crew assures me I'm a natural, but I bet they say that to all the boys) and soon enough I'm handing back the wheel to our skipper for the trickier part of guiding us into dock.

It has only been a brief half-day taste of sailing in Tasmania, but I'm hungry for more.

The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Tasmania.

Hobart Yachts run a variety of tours and charter trips from the city, from short half-day tours to five-day coastal journeys. The company also teams with Tasmanian Air Adventures for fly/sail packages. Prices vary based on the options selected. For details, see hobartyachts.com.au and tasmanianairadventures.com.au

Follow the writer on Twitter and Instagram.

Comments