The idea of revisiting the flat water of our old stomping ground “The Hawkesbury”, which we spent countless weekends water skiing during our childhood right through till our early 40s, came whilst on our 10 night bareboat charter on the very flat water of the Canal du Midi (South of France) last September.
Our normal break over the Xmas 4-day break typically involves spending time around Cowan Creek/Yeoman’s Bay/Smiths Creek & Refuge Bay with daily excursions to restaurants and other waterways within easy distance.
After talking to a member of the Kuring-gai Motor Yacht Club in late October about the cruise they do each Easter “up the Colo”, we committed this Xmas break to “just do it”.
It was important to pick the timing to make best use of the tide flow (up to 2 knots) making our intend cruise speed of 7.5 knots closer to 10 knots Speed Over Ground, so;
Day 1: We departed Bayview on the last part of the run in tide at 11am, the day after Boxing Day and spent 3.5 hours motoring at 7.5 knots ( with a short 30 minutes at 15 knots ) to get us to Danger Island, then through Milsons Passage we have Berowra Waters to the left or turn to starboard & you continue up the Hawkesbury River, past a few fishing villages on the right hand side of the river bank. Just before the town of Spencer you come to Marlow (the last stop for the riverboat postman) & well worth a close inspection as one of the home owners had styled his grounds into an
“Escape to Africa theme” complete with Elephants, Rhinoceros & large birds, by 2.30 we felt we had done enough motoring and this put us a few bends past the river town of Spencer where we anchored and rafted up with our friends in the other 2 boats for a late lunch which blended into the evening and dinner.
Day 2: The tide started to flow in around 10 am, so after a late breakfast we up anchored and proceeded at our leisurely pace of 7.5 knots up the river where mangrove trees were replaced with willow trees as we were now in fresh water, we pasted the township of Wisemans Ferry/Lower Portland with families of water skiers enjoying the river just as we had done in earlier days turning up the Colo River, which now has a 4 knot speed limit. By 1.30 we were again anchored and rafted up in the tranquil setting of this beautiful waterway having lunch and enjoying the surrounds with glassy water and reflections (just like the canal in France).
The sound of cicadas that that we normally hear at Xmas in Cowan Creek was replaced with Bellbirds, the beautiful little Kingfishers perched on the overhanging trees on the riverbank replaced seagulls and hawks normally found in Cowan Creek and the sight of tree ferns and bulrushes was certainly different to the usual Mangroves. By mid-afternoon the only boats to pass us on the Colo were 2 smaller cruisers and a couple of Kayakers.
A sandy beach on the bend of the river where horses come down to drink was a perfect spot to have a late afternoon fresh water swim, certainly very different to swimming off the back of the boat and having to wash off the saltwater.
Before dusk I grabbed a dinghy and headed off for some quiet time casting lures along the bank for freshwater bass, however it was not long before I was called back for BBQ Prawns, chilled Pinot and dinner. The glassy water provided an extremely quiet uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Day 3: dawned to be sunny and after an earlier breakfast, and with the tide again starting to flow out at 9 am we up anchored and made our way in convoy back down the river, 12.30 had us again at Spencer and whilst we had intended to do lunch there, we opted to continue on our way for another hour to a mooring off ‘Peats Bite’ Restaurant at the start of Berowra Waters where we stopped for a quick lunch and by mid-afternoon we were secure on our mooring just off the beach in Refuge Bay.
Day 4: Long Lunch at Brooklyn- for those that may want to add an easy to get to, good value and fresh seafood try the ‘Life Boat Seafood’ at Brooklyn, we had a great afternoon there. Being easy to get to for yachts as well as there are no bridges to worry about, there are no marina berths to leave your boat however you can drop of guests on the jetty and mooring is via public fore and aft posts on the entrance to the Marina, then take your dinghy and tie it to the Coops wharf.
I can well and truly recommend a 3 day cruise with a difference for those that don’t have a mast height issue getting under the bridges at Brooklyn.
By the way – my total fuel usage for a 38 footer having twin diesels running for 15 hours from Bayview back to Bayview was just short of 200 litres.
If you are considering doing this trip, a copy of Cruising Guide to the Hawkesbury River is a worthwhile investment giving detailed information including the rich history of people on the river.