Dec
22
2013

Tasmania: A boatie’s dream

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Tasmania by its very nature was always bound to have a strong maritime heritage. After all, it's a remote island location so in the early days, sailors had to brave dangerous waters to make their way to its shores.

Now, even with planes allowing for easy travel between Tasmania and mainland Australia, it has remained an island of great seafarers. The state has more boats per head of population than any other Australian state and it's no surprise why.

There's so much beauty in and around Tasmania to explore by boat. The variation in landscape is breathtaking and you can sail anywhere from beside impressive 300 metre-high dolerite sea cliffs to calm rivers throughout the island.

Some enthusiasts will even sail all the way from the mainland to Tasmania. This route usually follows the east coast, where there are many small coastal communities who welcome sailors.

There is an alternative western route, but this is notorious for fierce westerlies. That means big swells and often, a rough ride – not a great idea for first-timers!

Remember, the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the mainland is known as a tough sail, perhaps even one of the toughest in the world, and in earlier days claimed many ships. That means you always need to check the latest Marine and Safety Tasmania notices to make sure you're up to date with conditions.

A lesson in history

The sailing community is always a tight-knit one, so you never know when you'll meet new friends, come across a seafaring legend or hear a daring tale from the high seas.

As well as the fantastic sailing itself, there's also plenty of Tasmania's maritime history for enthusiasts to explore on the land.

When Europeans first settled on the island, boat-building was one of the industries that truly began to thrive. Many convicts were put to work building ships, too.  Today,  some of the old boats survive, including the May Queen ketch. This was built all the way back in 1867 on the Huon River in Franklin.

She's a great example of the style of boat often used during that time period. The May Queen was primarily a trading vessel, carrying around 25,000 super feet of timber each week from Raminea to Hobart. If that might feat wasn't enough, she also did well in racing regattas!

The boat served Australian seas until 1974 and then underwent a five year long restoration at the hands of the Hobart Marine Board.

Visit this vessel for yourself in Constitution Dock, Hobart. You'll be impressed by its 36 tonne weight, 21 metre length and 5.4 metre beam.

Then of course, there's the history of the Lady Nelson tall ship. This arrived in Tasmania in 1803 and was a proud part of the original Port Dalrymple's history.

While the original ship did not survive the test of time Robert Sexton, an expert on historic marine architecture, studied the vessel's plans and then Ray Kemp, a shipwright, built a replica. This was funded by a variety of individuals, clubs, schools, groups and more in a true show of Tasmanian community spirit.

The amazing replica can be visited at Elizabeth Street Pier in Hobart. You can even board the vessel and embark upon a trip to the Derwent River for a truly unique Tasmanian experience. As well as this, exploring this boat and learning about its history will open your eyes to the fascinating world of tall ships and the traditional art of boat building. Itching to set sail yet?

MayQueenStern - Image Credit: State of the Environment Blog

Yacht moorings at the Royal Hobart Yacht Club Sandy Bay - Image Credit: Tasmanian Visitors Bureau

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