Want to sail around Australia? What you need to know

Jul 24, 2013 BY Paul McWilliams

With a coastline tens of thousands of kilometres long, sailing around all or even part of Australia is no ordinary adventure. If you’re serious about wanting to sail around Australia then you need to be prepared for a challenge. This is one of sailing’s Holy Grails, almost on a par with crossing an ocean or even a circumnavigation of the world.

Sail around Australia flickr image by Jeffery Turner

Before you set off, you need to be prepared, and we don’t just mean having a few snacks in case you get hungry. We mean prepared in every possible sense. Because although the Australian coast is one of the most beautiful anywhere on the planet, this will be an adventure that is not without its serious risks.

Preparing to sail around Australia

You really shouldn’t even be considering this kind of trip unless you have prior experience of sailing. And if you haven’t got any, then you need to get some. Take lessons, work on a boat or volunteer – however you do it, the right experience now might just save your life.

You also need to make sure that you have the right boat  and equipment before you set off. It’s worth doing your research and finding out from others who have attempted similar journeys what kind of vessel and kit you’ll need.

Planning your route

It makes sense to start and end your journey in Sydney. Just imagine sailing back into the harbour and catching sight of the bridge and opera house at the end of your mammoth journey.

Sail around Australia flickr image by HerryLawford

Head north in an anticlockwise direction up the Gold Coast. When trying to plan your stops you need to think about how far you can sail in a day. This depends on your boat, the conditions, how much weight you’re carrying and a number of other factors.

You need to try and be mathematical about this as you need to plan how much food, water and other supplies you will need. Of course, the more you have, the heavier you will be and slower you will travel. However, you can usually expect to sail between 75 and 150 miles a day.

Factors that will affect your voyage

From Brisbane head up the Sunshine coast to Cairns, past the Great Barrier Reef and around the top of this vast country. Remember that the Northern Territories and Western Australia are very sparsely populated with few ports, so you’ll need to be very well prepared.

Sail around Australia flickr image by Xiquinhosilva

Come down the west coast stopping at Perth, the world’s most isolated city, before tackling the final leg along the south coast. Remember that temperatures can get up into the roaring 40s so make sure you’re protected. Heat like that can be a very serious issue on an unprotected boat.

To sail around Australia is no easy feat. It can take as long as six to twelve months and will involve crossing some treacherous waters, not least the Great Australian Bight. But when you’re back in a Sydney hotel after having completed this once in a lifetime adventure, you’ll have some incredible memories of an epic journey.


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