Plenty of options for all weathers in Jervis Bay
Reviewed Nov 2017
We recently spent 9 days, first sheltering from storms and then exploring in Jervis Bay, aboard our 12.4m sailing cat "Single Malt" in October / November 2017.
Having cruised most of the Australian East coast several times now, we can confidently list Jervis Bay as one of the better cruising destinations of the NSW coast.
When the weather gets wild out at sea and the swells build, making river bar crossings unsafe, there are only a few safe havens to run for on the NSW south coast: and Jervis Bay is a reliable one.
Key reasons for this claim include:
- a wide all-weather entrance
- sheltered anchorage / public mooring opportunities on all sides of the Bay to account for all wind directions
- a range of on-shore opportunities from isolated beaches and national park bushland to accessible settlements with shopping centres
- a beautiful natural setting, with astoundingly clear water and extensive seagrass meadows.
Jervis Bay also has lots of rules and regulations about what you can't do, coming under the jurisdiction of several federal and NSW goverment agencies.
The seagrass areas, whilst providing fantastic marine habitats, also pose a challenge for anchoring. Anchoring on top of the seagrass is forbidden and is also pointless as the anchor will most likely fail to set properly and will drag.
So the options are to either find a clean sandy bottom to anchor in - which sometimes takes a bit of searching and good lighting conditions that allow you to see the bottom, or else try to find a public mooring to pick up.
Latest information on public moorings in Jervis Bay:
- "Hole in the Wall" There are about 6 public moorings here in Darling Roads in the south-east corner of the Bay, owned and possibly sometimes maintained by the Booderee National Park (Commonwealth Department of the Environment). These buoys are rated for 20 metre vessels and 30 knot winds, with a 24 hour limit. Only one of the buoys here had a serviceable mooring line attached, the rest being frayed or broken, indicating that it may be quite a while since they were last maintained. We used our own ropes to make a bridle from the ring on the buoy. This situation above water does not give much confidence in the soundness of the underwater parts. The location gave excellent, calm shelter from the 40+knot southerly gale that blew over. We figured that if the mooring did give way we would only be blown into deeper water, so we set the anchor alarm, just in case. The Park rules do not allow anchoring here in less than 10 metres depth, which would mean being exposed to the winds that you are trying to shelter from and an unpleasant wave chop. Also, if you have a dog, we were told that pets are not even allowed on boats within the park! We didn't manage to verify this one.
- There are 5 or so public moorings at the beautiful little bay at Bindijine on the eastern shore; but they are only for boats to 5m length and there is nowhere else to anchor in the bay.
- Further north along the east shore is Long Beach which runs to Montague Point, good anchor-holding in the sandy patches between the seagrass. Pick a large sandy patch off the beach for good shelter from the north and east.
- The north-east corner of Jervis Bay is Hare Bay, which is a Sanctuary Zone within the Jervis Bay Marine Park. There is only a small section of this bay where anchorage is allowed. You will need a Marine Park zoning map, which can be downloaded onto a smart phone or tablet. If you want to fish or put down an anchor then you will need to download this map from their web site.
- Callala Bay and Callala Beach is a pleasant and popular residential settlement with a large mooring area in the north-west corner of the Bay. There is a jetty with good fresh water, but beware the barnacles on the jetty piles if you have a RIB / rubber ducky. There are toilets and picnic facilities ashore, and an IGA supermarket, chemist, Post office, hardware shop and cafes about a kilometre walk inland. There is one pink public mooring (NSW Roads & Maritime) here but this was occupied, so we anchored just inshore of the moorings in about 4 metres with good holding sandy bottom. Well-sheltered from the north and west, this bay becomes a lee shore with a southerly change, exposed to any south-easterly swell. The locals here were very friendly and helpful, which was repeated in other Jervis Bay settlements too.
- Along the western shore is the touristy town of Huskisson, located on Currumbene Creek, which runs into the Bay across a shallow bar that has prominent leads. The bar depth when we crossed in was only 1.3m, and there are shallow patches up the creek, so best to use the rising tide. There are three pink public moorings out in the Bay off Huskisson, exposed to any swell and wind, except from the west. Immediately inside the creek is a public jetty with a 1 hour limit and a public floating pontoon with a 20 minute limit. There is good water on the pontoon. Shopping here for provisions is very limited with only a convenience store and a butcher but there are many cafes and a couple of clubs / pubs and pleasant walking trails through foreshore parkland. We did not explore the river upstream but there are many boats moored and the possibility of anchoring up-river.
- Vincentia is a larger suburban settlement further south along the west coast. One pink courtesy mooring near the corner of the bay here gives access to a launching ramp and a 500m walk to shops, service station, laundrette and a large supermarket, making for convenient provisioning. This bay seems well protected from the west and south-west. Anchoring is also possible off the small beaches to the east, protected by the headland of Plantation Point, with its pleasant picnic grounds.
Shelter is available from all winds by moving around the Bay
A lack of marine services / chandleries was surprising
Limited number of public moorings given the seagrass issue
The Booderee National Park moorings need servicing