Pristine waters, good anchorage
Reviewed Jul 2016
Maria Island creates a channel between the island's western shoreline and the Tasmanian mainland. If you had been working your way down the Tasmanian east coast from Victoria or NSW, and you want to avoid a further several hours of sailing to Hobart by rounding Tasman Island, you can enter the aforementioned channel and layup overnight at Chinamans (AKA Shoal) Bay. From this bay to the "narrows" at the southern end of Marion Bay is a couple of hours sailing or motoring at 5 or so knots, and then through the Denison Canal at Dunalley and across Fredrick Henry Bay and on to Hobart. Boats with up to 2 m draft will be able to transit, but check the tides. (Slack water at the canal occurs 2 hours 16 minutes after Hobart high water.
If you are approaching Maria Island from the north, and entering the aforementioned channel (Mercury Passage) take the time to stop at Darlington on the NW tip of the island and visit. There is a lot of history surrounding Darlington with information available on shore. A somewhat strenuous climb to the peak of Bishop and Clerk hill will provide a magnificent panorama. Usually in summer the sea breeze blows from the ENE so it is best to vacate the Darlington area by early afternoon. A seven mile sail to the south will place you entering Chinamans Bay. I suggest that you review the charts or cruising guides for this area as there are a couple of shallow obstructions. (See "Cruising Southern Tasmania", published by the CYCT). However, once into the bay, there is an excellent anchorage at Encampment Cove at the north. If you anchor here, dinghy ashore near sunset and walk to see the old jail ruins and take your camera to record all the wombats and wallabies during the walk. At the Deep Hole which is toward the southern end close to the isthmus, there is room for a flotilla. Before starting on your sundowners, take your dinghy ashore and walk across the isthmus to Riedel Bay (5-7 minutes). It is very picturesque, and likely you will be the only visitors at that time.
If you happen to arrive at Maria during strong westerlies, you can opt to anchor in Riedel Bay on the eastern shore of the island, but be prepared to put up with some roll, or alternatively it is a relatively short sail to Prosser or Spring Bay on the Tasmanian mainland to the west. There are a couple of public moorings in Prosser Bay, off Shelly Beach. (http://www.mast.tas.gov.au/facilities/east-shelly-beach-orford/)
Protected from NW to S
Good fishing in Mercury Passage
Seagrass at Encampment Cove