Cruising Sydney waters – Sydney Harbour

First impressions of Sydney Harbour are of a very busy waterway.
The sandstone cliffs that line the harbour are very pretty and still have a rough native feel even with the thousands of houses that line the cliff face and tops.

The open water that greets you as you enter the heads is covered with boats of all types and can make for some nervous moments as one navigates a path thru them.
This mass of floating chaos is comprised partly of ferry cats that travel at close to 30 knots, in straight lines that do not waver and threaten to run down any craft silly enough to get in their way.


There are countless numbers of big and small power boats traveling in all directions with a healthy number of sail boats commuting or racing to and from every point of the compass.
An impossible number of private and commercial craft fill the waterway and they all take crazy pills.

Sydney Harbour on a summer weekend is something special but even then the crowds go home and for a few brief moments the waters clear before it all starts again.

Dotted all round the shore are signs warning not to eat the fish caught in the harbour.
Inland of the Harbour bridge the warning is to not eat any fish or shellfish at all, whereas on the ocean side it’s not to eat more than a couple of hundred grams once a month.
We considered this advice, briefly.

Over the course of a week we tried several squidding spots just inside the heads on both the north and south sides.
Two spots we tried on the south side provided a feed of squid, half a dozen or so in an hour of jigging.

Some time before Scott had seen a TV fishing show featuring ET’s favourite secret Sydney Harbour fishing spots and despite the cryptic camera angles recognised the spot.
So we tried this secret spot and over a short couple of hours nabbed both a feed and a few for bait.

Fresh squid is an excellent live and dead bait as well as being very, very tasty.
The following day in the late afternoon we headed back to ET’s secret spot and moored up in slightly deeper water very nearby.
In barely an hour we had 30 squid on the boat and were ready to cook up then head home.


Finding a public mooring in Sydney Harbour is quite the challenge.
If you don’t live there or frequent the area often you have Buckley’s chance of finding somewhere to tie up, legally.
This was our problem, where to spend each night.

After spending much time testing the mud bottom anchorage and suffering much anchor drag we opted for a public mooring a fair way inland.
At this spot there are two public moorings that you may tie up to for 24hrs.

The first mooring, the better of the two, was taken with a very pretty forty foot twin masted sloop, so we took the second.
Being so far inland it wasn’t worth fishing for a feed, Dioxins and all that, so we just tested the waters.

A quick bit of fishing brought up a few very small snapper and a flathead.
While these fish were no good to eat it would seem the Dioxins in the river bottom mud are not preventing the harbour being a productive breeding ground for the snapper, bream and flathead inhabiting the area.
The future looks good.

The following day the sloop took off so we nabbed his mooring for the night.
This mooring was a fair way inland but the water was very calm and there is a marina nearby to tie the tender so we could walk to the shops at the top of the hill.

There seems to be a lot of hills in Sydney.
By now we had explored all likely and better spots to spend the night and had decided to just try our luck at a jetty within sight of the harbour bridge.

The signage on the jetty forbade tieing up over night but we thought we would roll the dice and see what might happen if we “accidentally” moored overnight.
We were not bothered by officialdom at all during the four nights we spent tied there.

At first the ferries were taking the corner of the harbour we were in quite wide and didn’t cause too much trouble as by the time the wash hit us it wasn’t too bad.
By the third day the ferries were only missing us by a few metres and as they were doing twenty knots or more the wash was threatening to rip the mooring cleats and a large portion of hull clean off the boat.
If this only happened occasionally it might be tolerable.

Over the nights we were moored there we tried different mooring positions and methods but it made minimal difference, we were getting slammed by ferries several times an hour from dawn till midnight.
In the end the risk of not inconsequential damage to the boat inspired us to leave the harbour and head to calmer waters.

It was a shame to leave such a central Sydney spot as it was very pretty and walking distance to anything you might need.

Enough jigs?