Breathtaking West Coast

There is something momentous about sailing down the West coast of Tasmania. It is committal as there are not many places to hide. You feel a little on edge, a little excited too. The movement of the boat is different. It is not Bass Strait anymore with its confused chop.  It is the Southern Ocean with defined swell lines, even if they were not big for this part of our voyage.

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1576

Cape Grim, the start of the West Coast

We were lucky we had several days of easterly weather, so we were able to break the 120 mile trip from the Hunter Group of Islands to Macquarie Harbour and do it all in daylight, apart from a couple of hours of pre-dawn starts. We sailed part way to Sandy Cape on Wednesday 7 March, even flying past Cape Grim under spinnaker for the start of our West coast descent.  We motor-sailed the last three hours when the wind switched to the southeast, thus on our nose. We stayed at Venables Corner, Sandy Cape the next day to explore ashore, while the southeast was blowing, then took advantage of a light and variable day to get to Macquarie Harbour, again motor-sailing.

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1610

Ann and Greg enjoying the sail!

TAS2018 - West Coast - -1664.jpg

TIE anchored at Sandy Cape

TAS 2018 - West Coast --1651

Venables Corner, Sandy Cape

TAS2018 - West Coast - -1682

Exploring ashore at Sandy Cape

What an experience! This is a very sparsely populated coast, with just a few frontier like settlements. The dawns at sea were colorful, the albatrosses were out soaring, and dolphins were escorting us in large numbers. And then there were the varied shapes and textures of the coast: sand dunes around Sandy Cape, and spectacular granite tors, like Neolithic sites, around the Pieman River Entrance. With the soft morning light and backdrop of the mountains emerging from the sea mist, the seascape looked like Chinese watercolours. It was just breathtaking and we experienced all this at the rhythm of the rolling swell – unforgettable!

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1743.jpg

Sunrise like a watercolou!r – Sailors’ warning!

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1597.jpg

Shy Albatross

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1832.jpg

How determined is this stunning albatross?

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1873.jpg

We had dozens of dolphins escorting us for a while!

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1764

Granite Tors near the Pieman River Entrance

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1767

Like a Neolithic Site!

TAS 2018 - West Coast-1776.jpg

More granite tors along the coast


The highlight was of course reaching Hells Gates, which marks the entrance of Macquarie Harbour. The name is ominous and daunting… not so hellish for us sailors, particularly in the calm conditions we enjoyed, but in the 1800s the entrance was so named to describe the gates to a life of hell that awaited the convicts transported here.

TAS 2018 - Macquarie Harbour --1931.jpg

Hells Gates, entrance to Macquarie Harbour

TAS 2018 - Macquarie Harbour --1953.jpg

Totally calm at Hells Gates!

We are now half way down the coast and will be exploring Macquarie Harbour for a few days. It is a 20 mile long and 3 to 4 mile wide waterway, with the village of Strahan at one end and the iconic Gordon River at the other. It is lovely being in sedate and reasonably protected waters.


14 thoughts on “Breathtaking West Coast

  1. I’m very impressed with such beautiful views. The waters of Hell Gates are just like a swimming pool, so placid. You have sailed a lot of distance quickly, that’s pretty good! Enjoy the Harbor… 🙂

    • Hi HJ – yes you don’t laze around too much on the West Coast as it is not normally very forgiving. But we have enjoyed great conditions so far. We will take our time exploring around here before being brave again for the next big passage!

    • Thanks John. The albatross came so close to our boat, it was a great chance to zoom in! The number of them along this part of the coast is amazing. Such a treat!

    • Yes once we get the weather we just go! We will be in Macquarie Harbour for a few days to have a good explore, then when the wind is right we’ll head down to Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour. It has been good despite the motor sailing for this part of the trip. The wildlife is fantastic and the seascape really beautiful.

  2. Looks like a stunning place to cruise – we’ve had so many people recommend Tassie over the years… have to go someday. Though those place names are just a wee bit off-putting, no? Cape Grim, Hell’s Gate…
    Loved the albatross pictures, btw!

    • Hi Ellen – yes we love Tassie and first time down the West coast is a bit scary but going well. And yes those two spots are named like this for a reason, but we had great weather so did not live the tales of woe!

  3. What a journey you are all having, scenery spectacular with those fantastic and dangerous rocks. would have been daunting for the early sailors as they all went that way as Bass Str, was not available then.Loved the sunrises and of course the albatross, he does look determined. I saw you have left Macquarie, enjoy the next leg and stay safe with good seas & winds

    • Hi Sue – we are in and out of service but it was good to get your comment. We are still in Macquarie Harbour for at least a week if not more… locked in with the weather but using the time to explore as we are unlikely to come back here for a while. We just left Strahan two days ago and are meandering between anchorages. It is a dramatic, moody place.

We welcome and appreciate your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s