A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published January 24th 2019
Sail & sip around Sydney Harbour
Calling all waterbabies - and all who fancy the idea of spending their day off on the water, complete with bubbly and a chance for a refreshing dip in Sydney Harbour.
Learning to sail has been on the bucket list for a long time for myself and a good friend, and we figured what better way to pioneer our endeavours than with a casual cruise on Sydney Harbour to learn the basics in a relaxed setting? Well, most of the time. If you've never been on a sailing boat before then you may be in for a few thrills along the way.
We stumbled across the great value '3-hour Sailing Experience' for 2 ($125) on Groupon and it was an opportunity not to be missed. Come the day of the 'lesson' - it was so much more laid back than we had anticipated and sailor John, our friendly and flexible mentor for the day, wasn't at all fussed about time, meaning we got to stay out on the water cruising about for almost 5 hours. No complaints here!
We turned up to meet John and our crew for the day at Yarranabee Park in Darling Point. Note, it's always a good idea to check before boarding - we were worried we'd missed the boat and almost jumped on another one for a hen's party. Oops!
As we awaited John's beautiful sailing boat to dock, we got talking with some other people from various countries also waiting for the 'learn to sail'. It was wonderful to mingle and work together once on board and learning the ropes while enjoying some BYO beverages on the water together. The day is a great way to meet new people.
As we cruised around the harbour with John, we got both a tour of the different parts of the Sydney Harbour waterways as well as a rundown on the basics of a sailing boat, including the sides of the boat - port for left and starboard for right, when facing the bow.
We started off easy without the main sails up. It was exciting to have a chance to try my hand steering port-ward and starboard-ward around Sydney Harbour. This was it - the first step on my sailing journey! It was incredibly relaxing. Something I could get used to.
We spent a few hours cruising around, taking turns being captain, with those of us who were off duty sipping on cider and wine which we were encouraged to bring to unwind with (just no red wine due to the stains it leaves behind) and nibbling on snacks. There are toilet facilities on board too.
We then sailed into the calm waters of Mosman Bay to pause the lessons and enjoy a drawn out break. It was a great opportunity to kick back and relax in the sun, amongst beautiful waterside surrounds. For those who were up for it, it was also a chance to take a refreshing plunge into the crisp waters of Sydney Harbour. Especially on a hot summer day, it was pure bliss to swim and float about in these waters.
It was lovely with John not pressing anyone for time - we chilled out in this spot until we all felt it was time to move on. Following our period of pure relaxation, it was time to chuck the main sails up and have some fun.
We all had our part to play in steering and using the different ropes involved in navigating the winds and water, learning the value of teamwork when it comes to sailing. It was certainly a bonding experience among new acquaintances - especially when our boat did what sailing boats do best: tilting.
It was rather thrilling (especially for us newbies) when the boat tilted over a fair distance and we had to at times hang onto things and try not to slide into the water. Fortunately, that didn't happen, although we did have some points where we were worried about this. While our mentor gave us reassurances, we find it's wise to advise all budding sailors to do activities like this at their own risk.
I quite enjoyed the little adrenaline boost that came with sailing around with the mainsails up. I also enjoyed relaxing on and in the water. It was also fascinating to see the famous black Comanche sailboat (Sydney to Hobart and Fastnet winner) which must have been double the size of our boat. It looked mean. An impressive feat.
After a long day in the sun, my skin had acquired quite the tan and I was feeling pretty wiped out from those hours on the water. It was a really great day overall and I would definitely be keen for another one like it.
Recommended to anyone with an interest in sailing, or simply getting out on the water. A great introduction to the world of sailing and the experience has left me rather keen to take my sailing education further.