Evolving over the years from cruising notes compiled by Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania members on their regular Van Dieman’s Land Circumnavigation rallies, the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide is in its 4th Edition. RYCT member Jeremy Firth has rectified previous omissions, advising that material has been rewritten on the Furneaux Group, the Tamar River, Bathurst Harbour, Macquarie Harbour and parts of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel region.
Those who know exactly what is required in a cruising guide have clearly had an impact on the compilation of the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide. Bound simply with a spiral bound spine enables the book to take a bit of the inevitable rough treatment of a cruising guide. By simply using a bulldog clip to hold back the pages on one side, the problem of pages fluttering in the wind is easily resolved with this style of binding.
I think the key to a good cruising guide can be found in the initial pages, before it gets down to the real detail of anchorages and hazards. Any self-respecting cruising guide will present an introduction to the cruising area. But this one goes one step further with some really valuable information for the cruiser who is unfamiliar with the region. And let’s face it, if you were familiar with the area, you wouldn’t need a cruising guide would you?
The Passage Distance Table is invaluable, giving the navigator an immediate overview of likely options for coastal passaging. The opposite page has a simple black and white map showing plenty of detail with place names noted, allowing the navigator to build up a mental picture of passage distances. Plus there’s a comprehensive list of suggested charts as well as recommendations for other cruising guides. Importantly, for those who are confused about the ever-changing status of coast radio stations there’s good information on obtaining weather reports across Tasmania.
Getting into the actual anchorage pages, the first thing you will notice is the care that has been taken to align maps with relevant text on opposite pages, though this does create some blank pages. Initially it seems a little odd to have a page with the bland notation that ‘this page is intentionally blank’. Jeremy Firth advises that photos have now replaced these blank pages in the 4th Edition, while still allowing maps and text to be aligned in conjunction with each other. A comprehensive index makes it easy to locate known anchorages.
Anchorage detail is concise, and it’s written in an easy conversational style, staying away from some of the more technical nautical terms. And it’s clearly written by those who know what a navigator needs to know when approaching an anchorage. Prevailing weather is noted, with regular warnings of known areas of willy-willies or other local anomalies. Bottom conditions are often noted and alternative anchorages are offered for various wind conditions, where appropriate.
The Tasmanian Anchorage Guide doesn’t purport to be anything but an essential guide to mariners cruising Tasmania. While some may find the lack of colourful photos and information on Tasmania’s intriguing history and maritime tradition a disadvantage, there are plenty of publications that cover this genre adequately. Indeed, J Brettingham-Moore’s Cruising Tasmania is a worthy companion to the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide, with its comprehensive historical information. The Tasmanian Anchorage Guide is just that. A valuable reference tool for any mariner visiting Tasmania. And with the 4th Edition released in December 2008, mariners can be reassured in knowing it is up to date.
Verdict: Highly Recommended