Unfurl The Sails on Port Phillip Bay
The sight of sails skimming across Port Phillip Bay increases as residents take to the warmer summer waters, visitors take tours and sailing festivals come to town. With 260km of coastline, Port Phillip Bay is home to Victoria’s two largest cities, Melbourne and Geelong, and the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas. The bay is around 35 times larger than Sydney Harbour, making it a popular playground for professional and amateur sailors alike. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy sailing on Port Phillip Bay.
7-13 December 2015
The world’s best Olympic class sailors return to Port Phillip this December to kick off Victoria’s summer of sailing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne. Showcasing the best the world has to offer in sailing competition the ISAF Sailing World Cup is Victoria’s premier sailing event for Olympic class yachts and a vibrant date on Melbourne’s sporting calendar. Spectators can see all the on-water action unfold from the viewing decks and beaches of St Kilda, before sharing in the champagne spray as competitors are presented with their medals on the podium.
22-26 January 2015
Held on and off the Geelong coastline, the Festival of Sails is Australia’s oldest sporting event and the largest regatta in the southern hemisphere. Since 1844 it has played a key role in Victoria’s yachting calendar, offering a highly competitive and diverse event that caters to every level of sailing and boating. The Festival of Sails is held annually over the Australia Day long weekend and combines the on water regatta with a shoreside festival. More than 3,000 competitors, 300 boats and 100,000 visitors flock to the Geelong waterfront each year to soak up the atmosphere.
Searoad Ferries connects Port Phillip Bay’s two headlands for both cars and pedestrians. Departing from Sorrento (on the Mornington Peninsula) and Queenscliff (on the Bellarine Peninsula), the crossing takes in the coastline of Mornington Peninsula, passing the millionaire mansions of Portsea and is often accompanied by dolphins in the open water. On select Saturdays in January and February, Searoad Ferries will offer Summer Sunset Sailings, with breathtaking sunset views, live music, a regional tasting platter and complimentary drink on arrival. Additional drinks can be purchased at bar prices throughout the night.
Port Phillip Bay is home to many sailing experiences and local clubs offering day touring, as well as amateur sailing trips. Melbourne Sailing Adventures offers a variety of sailing experiences departing from Docklands, including a three hour trip around the bay, all day sails, sunset sailing and overnight expeditions. From September-April, Melbourne Sailing Adventures will also off the Ultimate Sailing Adventure, a three day eco sailing experience aboard the tallship Alexander Stewart. Exploring Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, visitors will have the chance to see wildlife such as seals, dolphins, penguins and sea-dragons.
Melbourne Docklands Sailing School offers sailing lessons for beginners as well as tailored events. They also offer a Nautical Bed and Breakfast, which provides the opportunity to wine, dine and sleep under the sails on board a luxury yacht in the heart of Melbourne’s Docklands. The experience includes a sailing tour that starts on Melbourne’s Victoria Harbour at The Docklands or the Historic Maritime precinct of Hobson’s Bay and Williamstown.
Recognised as one of Australia’s premier Yacht Clubs, the Royal Geelong’s history stretches back more than 150 years. The Club plays host to many major yachting events that cover every facet of sailing from International Cadet racing, Etchell class racing, high octane skiff regattas, club based keel boat sailing. A first class cadet facility provides young sailors with the opportunity to learn from some accomplished club sailors, including State, National and World Champions. Novice sailors are warmly welcomed and encouraged.The modern club house allows members and the public to access conference and meeting rooms, and host events.
For a firsthand taste of Australian history, visitors can join a voyage on Melbourne’s Tall Ship Enterprize to take in spectacular views of Melbourne’s skyline and Port Phillip Bay. The vessel is a handcrafted replica of John Pascoe Faulkner’s Enterprize, the ship that brought the first permanent European settlers to Melbourne in 1835. Onboard, passengers discover life as an early explorer and uncover the tales of ambition, intrigue and rivalry that led to Melbourne’s foundation. They can relax on deck or get more involved by helping hoist the sails, steer the ship, and climb the rigging. Voyages depart from Melbourne Docklands, Williamstown and Geelong, as well as Portarlington (near Geelong), Blairgowrie and Rye (Mornington Peninsula) during peak season.
Launched in Belfast in 1885, the Polly Woodside sailed 1.5 million kilometres around the globe. Now located in the heart of Melbourne’s South Wharf precinct, she is a tangible reminder of Australia’s rich maritime history. Visitors can take a guided tour of the ship, including below the decks, view artefacts in the award winning interactive gallery and watch a short film about life onboard the ship in the theatrette.
Tips thanks to our friends at Visit Victoria.