Cruise: Adelaide anchorages less traveled

Barker Inlet sunset.
My hometown of Adelaide is blessed with 30 km (19 miles) of continuous metropolitan beach which runs north-south from North Haven to Seacliff. In the right conditions you can anchor over sand almost anywhere, providing you don’t mind a bit of swell. Yet most yachties tend to retire to a marina at the end of the day, which is a shame. The anchorages at each end of this stretch of coast are particularly noteworthy.
North Haven Beach.
Nestled between 2 breakwaters, the small North Haven Beach (34°47.4'S 138°28.8'E) located just north of North Haven Marina is sheltered from NW thru SE winds. It is the only metro beach anchorage that offers protection from N and NW winds. This beach is also popular with kitesurfers and is commonly referred to as The Wall.

At the other end, 15 nautical miles to the south, scenic Seacliff  (35°2.1'S 138°30.8'E) is sheltered from NE thru S winds. This beach is also very popular with windsurfers and dinghy sailors, so don’t be surprised if they come racing past you while you’re at anchor. There's a pub and other eateries on shore too. Seacliff is a particularly lovely spot from which to enjoy Adelaide's night lights.

Neither of the above are sheltered from W or SW winds though, and in the summer winds blow from the SW over 50% of the time, generating choppy seas in the process. In such conditions you still have a couple of calm anchorages, providing you don’t mind snuggling up to mangroves.
Mangroves, Barker Inlet.
The word “mangrove” conjures up visions of the tropics and subtropics, but some of the world’s southernmost and highest latitude mangrove forests can be found at latitude 34°45'S, right on Adelaide's doorstep, the grey mangrove (Avicennia marina) to be precise. These mangroves grow in Barker Inlet, which is a tidal inlet of Gulf St Vincent, just north of Port Adelaide. The Inlet also contains a dolphin sanctuary and seagrass meadows and is an important fish and shellfish breeding ground.

First, there is the Port River. The best spot is just north of the old quarantine station (34°46.4'S 138°31.2'E). Just make sure you’re anchored well and truly outside of the channel, which is a busy shipping channel after all.

Barker Inlet, facing east towards Adelaide.
Second, there is the more secluded Barker Inlet. Once south of the St Kilda channel you can anchor outside the main channel in 2.5m of water (34°45.33’S 138°31.52’E). Unlike the behemoths that ply the Port River, the only vessels navigating the Barker Inlet are recreational boats. Barker Inlet is also much quieter than the industrial Port River, although one can still make out the muted sounds of Port Adelaide factories and power stations in the distance. Don't forget to troll a shiny lure of two while underway as snook and salmon trout frequent these waters.

Finally, though far south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, another less-traveled anchorage is Morgans Beach (35°35.6'S 138°6.3'E). I passed this beach dozens of times on my way to/from Kangaroo Island before finally spending a night here in September 2015. At first blush, Morgans Beach does not seem to welcome the sailor, since it is a wide, open beach providing shelter from only the SE quarter. Nevertheless this beach offers great fishing and snorkeling, in particular the rocky reef at its southern end, and is a fine anchorage in appropriate conditions.


PS You're never far from North Haven Marina, RSAYS or Holdfast shores if you're truly in need of marina comforts.