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Sailing Spencer Gulf, South Australia

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by Bowen Bowie-Woodham (subscribe)
I love writing about actual do-able things, accessible activities. Even in social distancing there are things we can enjoy doing. If you hit the like button it lets me know what you like reading!
Published January 26th 2017
Sailing, fishing, eating and anchoring up for free
sailing, sunset, calm seas, Spencer Gulf, South Australia, fishing, sails, recreation
Pacific Gull sails the waters of Spencer Gulf, South Australia

For any sailing enthusiast, Spencer Gulf offers the best of southern waters. Sheltered somewhat from the severity of the Southern Ocean, but still a large body of water where you definitely lose sight of the coasts on either side between Wallaroo and Cowell and anywhere south of this (and a little north, too, short of the line Port Pirie to Whyalla).

sailing, sunset, calm seas, Spencer Gulf, South Australia
Sunset over Spencer Gulf

From Port Pirie / Whyalla north you will be able to see the coast -- if that gives you a sense of security - as the Gulf tapers to its pinnacle at Port Augusta.

sailing, Port Pirie, Spencer Gulf, fishing
Yacht Breakaway Skippered by Bob Flack, crewed by June Nash

There is enough water to get a very real sense of "being at sea" - which you are, and you'd better not forget it. There is plenty of water to get into trouble if you are careless or forget to watch the weather which can change rapidly.

sailing, rough seas, boats, South Australia, water, ocean
Second Chance encounters a bit of rough weather outside of Franklin Harbour, Skippered by Neville Hank, crewed by Marg Pope.

There are safe anchorages you can find before nightfall as you cruise the Gulf. Try Wood's Point, Port Davis, and Chinaman Creek on the east coast of Spencer Gulf, and Blanche Harbour on the west just out of Port Augusta, and the false channel at Cowell. There are free moorings at Cowell, Port Broughton, and Port Victoria. For a much larger list, more detail, and a useful discussion on where to anchor up for free check out John and Inara's recommendations.

sailing, water, Port Broughton, boating, fishing, views, Spencer Gulf
Navigating the long and winding channel at Port Broughton

sailing, anchorage, salt water creek, Spencer Gulf, Port Davis
Fisherman's Creek, Port Davis

There are marinas at Port Augusta near the yacht club.

pier, poles, posts, port, marina, Port Augusta, water, sailing, boating, fishing
Port Augusta pier

sailing, Port Augusta, marina
The Spencer Gulf Cruise (2014) dropped in for a Port Augusta stay

Port Pirie operated by the Royal Yacht Club.

sailing, Port Pirie, Spencer Gulf, wind, fishing
Port Pirie's smoke stack in the background - see that spike? that's it.

Whyalla operated by the Yacht club, and Wallaroo.

The waters teem with Squid (in the cooler parts or cooler months especially), and Snapper in season, Whiting (King George and Silvers), Garfish (delicate and delectible), Snook to hook if you trail a paravane, and big meaty Blue Swimmer Crabs if you want to anchor for a while and throw a couple of crab-nets in. Tommies show up in season in good numbers. There are others but they may be harder to catch, such as Flathead. I've caught a Sea Cucumber, but I don't recommend trying to find meat on them despite what Youtube tells you.

sailing, Port Pirie, Spencer Gulf, fishing
Happy Sailors at sea, Spencer Gulf, outside Port Pirie, South Australia

There are plenty of fishies you don't want that you are likely to hook as well as ones you do; but it isn't their fault they're not delicious or even edible. You can expect to hook plenty of Puffers and an occasional Dog Shark. In season you will catch "Trumpeters", that are also known by a more unfortunate name that I won't print here, in annoying numbers, stealing your bait and wasting your time and causing you to stab your thumb getting them off your hook.

fishing, boating, dogs, fish
Somebody likes a fresh Trumpeter
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Why? Get your toes wet
When: Year round
Where: Spencer Gulf, South Australia
Cost: free anchorages, fishing = free food, you provide your boat and supplies
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