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Fleet of 40+ for Van Diemens Land Circumanvigation Cruise

by Peter Campbell on 26 Jan 2013
Coming ashore for evening barbeque for the VDL-C Cruise Jeremy Firth
A fleet of more than forty cruising yachts and motor cruisers has been entered for the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s biennial Choices Flooring Van Diemens Land Circumnavigation Cruise, which sets sail from Hobart on 13 February 2013.

Once again, the VDL-C has drawn boats around Australia and overseas as well Tasmanian entries from southern and northern ports, their crews seeking to be part of this unique opportunity to cruise in company around the spectacular coastal waters of the island State of Tasmania.

The VDL-C was the initiated by widely experienced Tasmanian cruising yachtsman Joe Cannon more than two decades ago with three primary objectives.

Appropriately, Dr Joe Cannon was awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) for his services to sailing in the Australia Day Honours announced today. The VDL-C Cruise was one of many initiatives started by Dr Cannon, the others being the annual Piper Opener, the Melbourne to Hobart race. In his own yacht, he completed the only recorded circumnavigation of the Tasman Sea, writing a book of the voyage.


The first objective of the inaugural VDL-C organising committee was to showcase Tasmanian cruising grounds where these club members had often sailed with enjoyment.

The second objective was to provide a relatively safe cruising environment in which those lacking sufficient confidence and experience could tackle an extended cruise of some 800 nautical miles, much of it in the roaring forties latitudes of the Great Southern Ocean.

Thirdly, the RYCT, in association with Royal Geelong Yacht club, wanted to stage a signature event of which the club and its members could be proud, and was recognised as such throughout the cruising world.

Certainly, all three primary objectives have been achieved, a credit to the two clubs and their members who have been involved over many years.

The Organising Committee, all club volunteers, have been working with the help of club staff for two years to plan and now implement the 11th VDL-C Cruise. The Choices Flooring VDL-C has attracted 41 entries – once again near the maximum sized fleet of 45.

As the Organising Committee points out, cruising in small boats in the ‘roaring forties’, on the edge of the world’s largest ocean, is about sailing and navigating at all times with the bounds of good seamanship, as well as being as self-reliant and as self-contained as possible.

However, the Committee, with its experienced cruising personnel, will provide again that added guidance on anchorages, weather forecasts and maritime communication, as well as organising social functions at ports-of-call around the coast of Tasmania, ranging from barbeques on the beach to formal club dinners.

One of the by-products of the VDL- cruises has been the publication by the RYCT of the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide. Now in its fifth edition, it started life for the first cruise in 1992 as a sheaf of photocopied sheets. Now it is published as a 146 page book, complete with descriptions and colour maps of recommended anchorages around the Tasmanian coast. It is a must-buy for those serious about cruising around this coast. (It is available from the RYCT and marine booksellers for a RRP of $AUS65.00).

Among those taking part in next month’s VDL-C Cruise is the 72’ motor-cruise Adagio whose home port is Jersey, with other boats coming fro Hervey Bay and Brisbane in Queensland, Sydney, Lake Macquarie in New South Wales and Adelaide, while 14 boats have entered from various Victorian ports.

At least eight boats will join the fleet at Beauty Point, including those from the Tamar River and many of the Victorian entries who will have sailed across Bass Strait.

Among those joining at Beauty Point is 80-year-old Peter Rae, the former senator and Tasmanian government minister, who will be skippering his cruising yacht Genevieve which he recently sailed in the Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race. Rae is also a former Sydney Hobart Race skipper.


While most of the listed owner/skippers in the VDL-C Cruise are male, there are a couple of women skippers, including Amberley Ford who will be skippering the Bavaria 38 Fordplay, and Joanne Harbour, who will join the Cruise at Beauty Point with the Jeanneau Sunfast 36 sloop, Spirit of Freya.

Main ports/anchorages planned for the VDL-C include the Schouten Passage or Wineglass Bay, the southern end of the Furneaux Group, the Beauty Point and the Tamar River, Stanley, the Hunter Group, Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River, Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour, Dover, Cygnet and finally back to Hobart by 13 March.

Cruise Commodore for VDL-C 2013 will be Nigel Hill aboard Nirvana 1, a Bavaria 37 while Communications Officer will again be Jeremy Firth on his Adams 40, Rosinante.

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