David and Ea are the duo behind the Yukon. They found her sunken just out of Copenhagen and bought the traditional Danish sailing ketch for a carton of beer. Locals quipped they paid too much. The following seven years were dedicated to restoring her. They then sailed out to Australia where they now reside in Franklin offering Huon River Day Sails, Bruny Island Cruises, a Port Davey Cruise and more.
Before we share the four days we spent on the Yukon, we have an exclusive offer. If you go on a Calm Water Cruise, just mention Tailored Tasmania when booking and you’ll get 4 tickets for the price of 3 for the 90-minute cruise, departing Franklin at 10.30 am. Offer goes from today until the end of Beanie Season, August 31.
Day 1 – Dover to Recherche Bay
I joined the Yukon voyage partway through the trip. Arriving by bus into Dover, I soon find out from the service station-come-hardware store that the jetty is quite a way from the bus drop off. I look down at my two oversized bags and wonder how I’ll get down there. Next, a man pops his head up behind the hammer section and says, “I’m headin’ down there now. I’ll take ya.”
Next minute I’m climbing into Smudge’s truck. It’s not something I’d typically do. I find out on our short commute that Smudge processes crays, lots and lots of crays. He doesn’t just take me to the jetty, he drives right along the jetty, up to the Yukon. I leave money on his passenger chair. It’s not every day you get a lift in a town where there’s no taxis.
I arrive to a flurry of on-deck activity. I shake hands with the eight I’ll be spending the next four days with, as ropes are pulled and instructions bellowed around me. Soon we are ready to set sail. Our destination is Recherche Bay under perfect blue skies. This is where we’ll spend our first night. We leave the islands of Hope, Faith and Charity in our wake at Dover. I learn that the first licensed hotel was on Hope and the splitters and whalers were known to swim across from Stringers Creek, clutching dry wattle branches, to get to the pub.
At Recherche Bay we are invited to head ashore by tender to explore the former whaling region before settling in for our first dinner together onboard. It isn’t long before the Yukon’s gentle rock has its way and I’m fast asleep.
Day 2 - Recherche Bay to Port Davey
This is the biggest sailing day. It’s a mission likely to take around 13 hours. It begins at 3.30am, my eyes opening sharply to the rumble of an anchor being pulled. Apparently we’re on our way. I stay cosy in my bunk, the photographer fellow directly above me tossing a few times. Despite broken sleep, Kevin climbs down a few hours later in time for sunrise. With weary eyes, I follow. It’s well worth it. We are now in open water, next stop to our left is Antarctica. A gentle glow of red lights the cliffs of Tasmania’s south coast in glorious fashion.
The sails billow as we pass De Witt, an island where a lady once spent nearly a year on her own. I remind myself to find out more about her. Apparently Jane of Victoria wanted to “get away from it all and find myself.” It looks isolated and forlorn. There’s others like Flat Witch nearby.
We pass Maatsuyker where I wish I could yell loudly enough to say hello to the resident keepers at Australia’s southernmost lighthouse. Hours pass and a flurry of playful seals and soaring albatross keep us company as we forge ahead.
Rounding South West Cape, the island’s southern-most tip is something to behold. It’s gloriously rugged. The waves slam against it even though today’s conditions are tame. It is at this point we turn right and head into Port Davey past Big Caroline. I do wonder who Caroline was back in the day, and if she’s happy to have a ‘big rock’ named after her.
Dropping anchor at Bond Bay in Port Davey, it is one of the Sydney-siders who says it perfectly. He breathes deeply as I stand beside him. “The quiet,” he begins. “It almost shouts at you.” He’s right and for a long moment we stand in the silence and remoteness of our locale.
We chatter late into the evening up on deck over Weber-seared chicken.
Day 3 – Port Davey
Early on day three those familiar legs appear from the top bunk - that dedicated photographer keen not to miss a sunrise. Shortly after, Ea brings freshly baked bread out of the oven. We’re soon drawn together up on the deck for a Danish style alfresco brekkie with cheese and salami.
Our morning mission is a trip up the Davey River in the tender. None of the group including the skipper has ventured up there. We rug up and climb down into the little vessel, scooting along just centimeters from the inky black tannin-rich waters. It’s not until we get part way up that this group of explorers has to turn back due to a sand bar making small waves right across the width of the river. I was excited to see the likes of Razerback Point and Gunfight Creek but alas, it wasn’t to be. We head back to the warmth of the saloon for Plan B, an early departure for Bathurst River past the Breaksea Islands.
Arriving into Bramble Cove, we set off on a remarkably scenic walk up Mount Milner. Every step brings elevation and a larger glimpse at the untouched landscape. White sand coves, rocky outcrops and foreboding seas sprawl out in the distance. Down below, the Yukon becomes a tiny dot in the grandness that is Tasmania’s wild South West.
Without doubt a highlight of the four day journey comes next. The sunny afternoon invites more than one of us to take a plunge beneath the cove’s surface. I come up to breathe in some of the world’s freshest air. Invigoratingly cool, this is the type of swim one never forgets. The tea-coloured shallows deliver flashes of small darting fish as I scurry ashore realising I have no towel.
Tonight’s menu features kebabs up on deck, followed by a night cap of sailor’s rum and that feeling a very special voyage is nearing its end. Thank goodness the stars put on such a spectacular display that we each forget it’s the final eve.
Day 4 – To Bathurst Harbour
Yes, another sunrise awakening. This time it’s shrouded in moody cloud. It so happens that the dull morning can only be lightened by three playful dolphins as we leave the bay. I’ve never seen a dolphin swimming upside down, but one is having so much fun ducking and weaving that his white belly shines just beneath the dark surface. They play long enough for us to miss every photo opportunity, then swim gleefully north.
Up the Bathurst Narrows we venture, beside large mountains capped with misty cloud. We’re fueled on pancakes served with avocado, bacon, Nutella and all manner of European-inspired flavours. It wasn’t until I hopped on the Yukon that I realised a whole country of people are quite happy to chop up chocolate and put it on their fruit salad. This trip is as much a Danish lesson as it is in experiencing ‘Hygge’ which surely includes sitting by candlelight up on deck beneath the stars.
It doesn’t take long before Bathurst Harbour opens up before us, some three times the size of Sydney Harbour. Mount Rugby reveals itself in sunshine as if on cue. We spend a little time, mouths open at the mountain ranges and sparkling waters before we are ferried to the landing strip. Less than an hour later we are back in Hobart….the golden silence of Tasmania’s south west still ringing in our ears.
Words and images: Alice Hansen (unless otherwise stated)
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