Posted: 31st October 2012.
Name an anchorage in Australia and you can bet that, Rossco, our ‘Silver Salty Dog’, has been there. With decades of experience cruising, crewing and training, Rossco has explored the most remote and the most popular cruising destinations in the Asia Pacific region (and beyond). In this edition, Rossco shares his favourite anchorage.
When I was managing the 64’ CNB monohull Havana for over five years, I spent about six months based in Coaster’s Retreat on the western shores of NSW’s Pittwater. Although I’ve done regular deliveries up and down the beautiful Australian east coast, Coaster’s Retreat is undoubtedly my favourite spot.
Looking northward towards “The Basin”, named by locals in reference to the body of water that was accessible for shallow draft vessels on a high tide some years ago, Coaster’s Retreat is now shut off by a fence erected to supposedly keep out predators.
The anchorage is accessed by an easy three-hour trot up the coast from Sydney Harbour, with picturesque views of the northern beaches on the way as well as the spectacular Barrenjoey headland to greet you when you turn into the bay. It’s the perfect weekend or overnight destination and is an absolute serene paradise during midweek and out of holiday season.
Most of the time, there’s no need to anchor as moorings are generally available. However, the bottom features good holding sand shelving gently from four metres to 11metres. It’s safe in all winds from westerlies through to southerlies and easterlies. But if the summer northerlies loom, the sanctuary of Towlers Bay is an easy half hour sail away. Towlers Bay affords good holding just outside the mooring buoys. Any lovely, still morning is amazing in Pittwater, although spring and autumn are the times of the year that Coasters really shines.
In my early days at Coasters, I heard someone knocking on the hull. I got out, had a look around but there was no one there. I went back down below then heard more knocking. I got up again, walked around the deck and found Mum and Dad and all the kids waiting to be fed. I learnt that day that you need to have bread onboard for the ducks or they won’t leave you alone.
Coasters Retreat is unique as it offers the romance and allure of far-flung, remote anchorages without the time-consuming journey. After all my experience cruising, I believe that the romance of isolated anchorages start to fade when you consider the time it takes to get there. When you really need a break from hectic, everyday life, you don’t have time to travel. Coasters Retreat provides an idyllic retreat that’s so accessible and convenient.
There is excellent swimming off Coasters Retreat’s two beautiful sandy beaches, easy dinghy access, plus a fantastic camping ground which is never crowded because of the inability to access by road. Fishing is fantastic and there are great bushwalks, all signposted with an extensive range of hiking options as Pittwater is surrounded by the beautiful Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
While you might feel like you’re a million miles from anywhere, the anchorage has all the conveniences including ease of access for picking up guests from the Royal Motor Yacht Club, or Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. There are also regular ferries from Palm Beach and if you have a good sized dinghy, you can go for a drink at these yacht clubs without having to move your mothership! There is also a comprehensive chandlery and a good range of services right across Pittwater, so why stay in a marina when you can perform maintenance on your boat in this stunning anchorage.
You can even dine in style if you’re sick of the galley. There is an abundance of restaurants on the Palm Beach side catering for all tastes and budgets. Major supermarkets and stores are located in nearby Newport and regular buses from Palm Beach into Sydney’s CBD. Be sure to visit the famous Newport Arms that has arguably the best food and entertainment in this area. After more than a few hours ‘exploring’ the bars in the beer garden here, I’d say I can vouch for its virtues!
Coasters Retreat was the setting for the Multihull Solutions Irish Party which was part of the 2012 Pittwater Multihull Rendezvous! It was the perfect location for an unforgettable night of fun aboard Skippers Afloat, which was our floating dance floor!
You don’t have to have the adventurous spirit of Captain Cook to discover magic anchorages. Amazing spots full of magic wilderness areas like Coasters Retreat can be found on our doorstep. The charm of Coasters Retreat is that it is so close to all facilities and services, yet so hard to imagine you are within short cruise of Australia’s biggest city.