Just 48 hours before I’d surprised Dad with an overnight sail aboard 62 feet of luxurious Helsal IV, departing from Hobart to greet Sydney to Hobart yachts as they round Cape Raoul off the Tasman Peninsula. Dad’s always loved the sea but it’s been some years between his navy days and today. A friendly towel off by Marsha can’t wipe his grin. Nothing like an ocean baptism to make you feel alive.
Some 566 photo attempts later I lift my gaze and there it is. A coastline like no other on the planet; towering sea cliffs some 300 metres high, impending Shipsterns Bluff that lures surfers the world over and classic dolerite spires of Cape Raoul in the distance. It’s raw, it’s rugged and typically on show only for the Southern Ocean and the eyes of weary fishermen. Out here is the type of silence where only the wind and heaving swells do the talking.
The boat is just visible off the south eastern tip of the peninsula, near Tasman Island. It’s little wonder this desolate windswept island sent many light keepers mad, likened to the American prison island of Alcatraz it is the very definition of isolation.
The mighty headland offers a sheltered bay far removed from the days where pounding swell put Shippies up among the top three surf breaks worldwide. It is unlikely Mr. Slater comes here for Christmas cake and a cup of tea, but for us the smoothly calm inlet is a flawless dining table.
Our fast run across Storm Bay rewards us with a leisurely afternoon tea anchored beside craypots off Betsey Island. Jamie has a quick dip, failing to return with a stolen catch, so we happily settle for that famous cake once more and a warming coffee.
There’s something whimsical about the life of a sailor. Is it the invigorating sense of unknown that bonds all on board? Or that every voyage carves a path never travelled - far removed from our well-worn highways? Or the urgency to react to conditions coupled with a strange sense that out there, time stands still? Or does it simply fulfil our innate desire for freedom and exploration? Whatever it is, life at sea will forever draw sailors to the open ocean. Even if it’s just for a great piece of Christmas cake.
Join Hobart Yachts for a few hours racing on the Derwent or for a multi-day trip to the far south west of Tasmania. Mark and his crew will take you to places inaccessible by car or foot, well off the well-trodden path. Wherever you go on Helsal IV, you’ll leave with a good sailor’s yarn.
Where: departs Sullivans Cove, Hobart
How much: trips start at $95
Call: 0438 399477