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Go Sailing on the Yukon of Copenhagen

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by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published May 31st 2016
Feel the wind in your hair and salt on your face
Have you ever wanted to go sailing and let the wind run through your hair and smell the salt of the sea while hoisting the sails? If you have and you are down in the Huon Valley, about 45 minutes south of Hobart, Tasmania, you should pay a visit to the Wooden Boat Centre and take a 45-minute cruise up the Huon River. On board you will get the chance to help hoist the sails, while taking in the beautiful sights along the Huon River.

All aboard the Yukon of Copenhagen. Image by Gary Brown.

Before you go, I would suggest that you take the time to read about the fabulous history of the Yukon of Copenhagen and how it was rescued from the depths of the bottom of Dragør Harbour south of Copenhagen, Denmark. If it wasn't for the passion and love of wooden boats by owners David Nash and his Danish wife Ea Lasen, the Yukon of Copenhagen would be lying at the bottom of the river rotting away, never to be sailed again on the high seas. Click here to read how the Yukon of Copenhagen was saved and restored to all its glory.

Hope the wind comes up later. Image by Gary Brown.

On the morning that we left Hobart, it was raining quite hard and thoughts had gone through our minds of wind swept decks, wet clothes and freezing hands as we took our voyage up the Huon River. Much to our relief the skies had cleared to a delightful morning where the reflection of the clouded sky and mist covered hills was now reflected in the smooth waters of the Huon River.

Safety briefing by the captain before we set sail. Image by Gary Brown.

Morning tea is served. Image by Gary Brown.

To start our 45-minute cruise, the Captain had to start the six-cylinder 125-hp Ford diesel motor up, as there was no wind at all. The conditions were glassed out. Along the way up river we were given a run-down of the history of the river of how Huon Pine was discovered shortly after settlement in 1803, when large logs washed ashore on the lower Huon River and d'Entrecastreaux Channel.

They were intrigued by the fact that the logs had evidently been lying there for many years, but were intact, untouched by the rot and insects that normally decompose fallen timber. They speculated that this timber might be the solution to the previously intractable problems experienced by wooden boat builders - how to stop the voracious marine borer or screw worm.

In 1815 an expedition by James Kelly, found Huon Pine growing along the banks of Macquarie Harbour and even today Huon Pine (harvested from old felled trees & re-cycled timber) is still used in wooden boats today.

Because they were first found in the Huon River the trees were called Huon Pines, but further explorations showed that this river is only the eastern extent of their range, and the wet temperate rainforests of the Gordon River and its tributaries are the centre of their distribution.

Along the way we also took in the sights of the low hills, birdlife and also kept an eye out for any fish life and maybe the odd dolphin or two.

Beautiful scenery along the Huon River. Image by Gary Brown.

Once we had reached the turn-around point in our journey, the captain asked for volunteers to help hoist the sails as there had been a slight breeze pop up. Ian and Terry jumped at the opportunity to learn about how to hoist the main sail, set the jib and lock off the ropes so that they didn't get wet.

Now is this the correct rope to pull to hoist the sails? Image by Gary Brown.

Even though there was not much of a breeze on the day, the Yukon of Copenhagen, with its sails flowing in the breeze took us back down the river to the docks near the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin. Not that I am much of a sailor, it was very peaceful without the noise of the diesel motor in the background.

The crew got it right. Up go the sails. Image by Gary Brown.

The ropes are correctly stowed away. Image by Gary Brown.

While on board you were able to go down stairs and check out the living quarters with its two private cabins, each containing two bunks with the top bunk wide enough for two people. The saloon has seating capacity for 12 and at night provides bunk space for two people.

Plenty of bunk space for couples. Image by Gary Brown.

The bottom bunk for me please. Image by Gary Brown.

The boat also has central heating, a wood stove and hot and cold running water serves both galley and bathroom. The bathroom is equipped with both washbasin and shower.

The much needed central heating for sailing during winter. Image by Gary Brown.

Overall the Yukon measures 17 meters on deck, with a beam of 4.7 meters. A roomy and robust vessel with a spacious deck, she is a simple pole masted gaff rigged ketch which incorporates two low coach houses and a steering flat, providing good space on deck for relaxation.

There is actually plenty of room below deck. Image by Gary Brown.

Even if sailing is not your thing and you are looking for something different to do, you too could become a part of the experience as you hoist sail or simply sit back and enjoy the timeless feeling and the beauty of the Huon Valley.

For the more adventurous of you there are a number of other cruises that you can take on the Yukon. Maybe you would like to:

• Sail aboard Yukon into the heart of Tasmanian World Heritage wilderness, a picturesque voyage from Franklin to Port Davey. Click here for details.

• Take a short sail aboard Yukon in and around the partially sheltered water way nestled between the Tasmanian mainland and Bruny Island that has a myriad of anchorages and secluded beaches. An ideal passage for a short break, this 3-night voyage is a good introduction to coastal cruising aboard Yukon. Click here for details.

You get the chance to try out your cooking skills in the galley on overnight trips. Image by Gary Brown.

• Sail aboard Yukon and enjoy Tasmania's amazing South East coast, white sweeping beaches, rusty granite boulders of massive dimension secluded wooded anchorages this is voyage of surprising contrasts. Click here for details.

• Or choose your own place to go and Charter their vessel, crewed, provisioned and ready to go. Click here for details.

What could be better than the wind in your hair and the salt on my face. Image by Gary Brown.

Coming back into the wharf against the tide was a bit tricky. Image by Gary Brown.

So, if you are ever down in Hobart, Tasmania and you are looking for something to do for a few hours, you should take the time to travel down Franklin and hop on board the Yukon of Copenhagen and set the sails for a cruise up the Huon River and get the wind in your hair.

Or for the more adventurous you could take a longer cruise and become part of the crew while working the boat around southern Tasmania.
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Why? Feel the wind in your hair and salt on your face.
When: All year round.
Phone: 0447972342
Where: Franklin, Tasmania
Cost: Various, as it will depend on what you do.
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