The intention of this page is to offer information about cruising on Spencer Gulf and boat tips that sailors have found work in our conditions. It is open to contributions from the sailing community in the upper Spencer Gulf and further abroad as there is a wealth of experience out there. If you have something to offer email me through the contact form and I will add it to the page.
Yatala Harbour/ Miranda
While we were in Yatala Harbour over Easter we surveyed the deep creek- trench that lays in the south eastern area of the harbour. We found at low tide there was 5/6 metres of water in there. We spent a night in there and it was very sheltered from the south westerly winds. We entered at low tide on the rise and could clearly see the edges of the trench as the flats either side were exposed. The entrance is shallower than the trench but still navigable by lifting the keel . Fixed keel boats would need to wait until a higher tide. I have included a Google Earth view with the marks we laid down and the relevant co-ordinates that can be entered into a GPS. It is a bit laborious but I didn’t know how else to do it.
At the highest flow of tide there is a lot of weed washing in or out and we collected a wheelbarrow load sized amount on our anchor and had a little trouble with the outboard prop getting clogged up. Leaving at slack water would have helped.
The full document with co-ordinates and photos to cross reference is here
Safe havens and good places to anchor overnight for lifting keel boats
Upper Spencer Gulf has plenty of good places to get out of the wind and find a quiet place to spend the night — or day if it is blowing 25+ knots. The ‘bulge’ below Port Pirie is regularly spaced with tidal creeks and inlets. Most are only accessible at high tide as they have a sand bar across the mouth.
Sailing south from Pirie River the first creeks that are navigable are Third and Fourth Creek which share an opening. Third creek has a lovely place to anchor with a small sandy beach and good holding right inside the mouth. Sheltered from the worst of the southerly and southwesterly winds they are a comfortable place to spend the night.
Travelling south Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Creeks are not so good but Fishermans’ Creek is very large once you are in. The channel is not marked but on a high tide and with a GPS you can motor into Fishermans Creek along the deep but twisty channel until you get to deeper water. Once in there are lots of options for finding a quiet place to drop an anchor
Port Davis is the next creek offering good anchoring. The channel is marked by channel markers but can be tricky to navigate when the tide is low and wind isn’t helpful. There is a fair bit of weed floating in the water, especially at Easter, and it can be hard to keep the prop clean to give good steering to to stay in the channel–speaking from experience here. It is also very large once inside.
‘The waters on the eastern side of the Gulf are very shallow from the mangrove edge of the coast out for about a kilometre to the west and on a ‘low’ high tide can be an anxious navigate until you reach deeper water.
Public pontoon in Port Pirie
This is not so much a hint as a plug for the new public pontoon. As it is a facility for visiting and local yachts, there is now an option for visiting yachts who want to come to Pirie to get food or fuel or enjoy the hospitality of RPPYC. The old pontoon was a fair sort of disincentive for staying in Pirie but the new pontoon is ideal for all sized yachts and can hold three or more per side.
Anchors suitable for sailing boats in Upper Spencer Gulf.
The stockless Fisherman’s or Marsh anchor were designed to be used in the Gulfs and are the best sort for gripping in sand and weed. Designed in Adelaide they are available from North Haven Marine and Quin Marine.
Our boat is 24 foot and we have a 12 kilogram main anchor and a smaller spare
Chain to the same length, or longer, of your boat should be attached. We have been sailing in Spencer Gulf for about ten years and have only dragged anchor once when we hadn’t set it properly
First piece of information concerns good anchorages for fixed keel boats and anyone not wanting to wait for the tide to be able to go into a creek for shelter.
The ‘Horseshoe’ on the north eastern side of Ward Spit is a good place with options for anchoring in permanent water or sitting in the shallows and going dry overnight if you can lift your keel and rudder-blade. This screenshot shoes Ward Spit at high tide but you can clearly see the ‘horseshoe’ With the correct anchor* it has good holding under most conditions. The shortest shallow area close to the mangroves can be motored across at high tide to save time going all the way around Ward Spit if you can lift your keel up. It has about 1 meter of water over it except on low high tides. You need a 2 metre tide to make the crossing