Note: approx. only.
Do not use as an anchoring point on your GPS.
Coffin Bay, Port Douglas, Mt Dutton Bay and Kellidie Bay form one of the most attractive cruising areas in South Australia. Its entire southern coast is national park; its waters are sheltered, its fishing good and there are local sources for essential supplies. However only vessels with a draft of less than 1.5 metres or so are able to pass over the bar into Port Douglas without hindrance at almost any time, while those with greater draft will often have to wait outside, in Coffin Bay proper, for a suitable state of the tide; and for those without intimate local knowledge, a daylight passage is essential. But for all vessels able to access them, the protected waters of Port Douglas and its several Bays are a cruising holiday delight. Trailer yachts can, of course, reach many places that are inaccessible to fixed-keel boats and do not have to get there by sea.
Coffin Bay proper:
Two main anchorages, at Farm Beach and at Seasick Bay.
General position 34 30S/135 23E
Shelter from SW through SE to NNE
Anchorage is 1/4-1/2 nm east of the Pt. Douglas entrance beacon (No1 Starboard – Fl 3s 9.4m 6.8nm).
Holding is fair in mixed sand and weed.
General position 34 25.5S/135 13E
Shelter from SW-S
Anchor in a small cove NE of the Point Sir Isaac lighthouse. A respite anchorage, used only as circumstances dictate.
In addition, anchoring anywhere off the coast from Point Sir Isaac to Longnose Point is possible in suitable weather. The bottom is all sand and good holding, but the water is shallow for a long way out and there are one or two lumps or spits that should be avoided! Port Douglas – Mt Dutton Bay:
There are many alternatives available once across the bar and into Port Douglas. They are reached by a channel through drying sand flats and great caution must be exercised, especially in the first 5 nm between beacon G1 to beacon R8. At the time of writing, May 2005, the channel between the entrance and the township had three particularly shallow stretches very close to the course line: the area between the first and second entrance beacons; the area between and around the port and starboard beacons north-west of Crinolin Point; and around the township of Coffin Bay, the Town Jetty and Yacht Club Jetty.
Given these conditions it is prudent to enter on a rising tide and one should allow about three hours to negotiate the channels all the way from the entrance beacon to the township reach and anchorage. But one does not need to go this whole distance before choosing one’s first anchorage.
The town anchorage is in the area between Goat Island, with its large southern sandbank, and the town shore. Many moorings are available; and the holding is good with shelter from all directions. It may be possible to tie up for some time at the town jetty but since this is in regular use by commercial fisherman, the usual caution and courtesy should be exercised.
The yacht club jetty has less than 2 metres of water at its head at low tide but is a useful place to tie up while provisioning.
The township of Coffin Bay has two general stores and a service station where most basic provisions can be bought, along with the famous Coffin Bay oysters. There is a Post Office and the Caravan Park has laundry facilities. Visiting are welcome at the Coffin Bay Yacht Club which is also famous for good low cost meals produced two nights a week by a roster of local members.
Fuel is available at the main jetty tel 0428 854 020; water is also on tap at the yacht club jetty.
Pt Lincoln is about 45 km away by road. There is a regular bus service between it and Coffin Bay township.
Of the many alternative anchoring places that may be used, the following three locations are note-worthy.
Shelter all round.
Anchor S-SW of the island and its drying banks. The east-west channel south of Rabbit Island is narrow but deep.
Note – Good quantities of cockles can fairly readily be found in the sandbanks to the south.
General Position 34 34.3S/135 20E
Shelter W through SW to S
Anchor in any one of several sandy coves along this stretch of coast of the Coffin Bay Peninsula.
Mount Dutton Bay
Shelter SE through N to SW
Anchor at: The head of the bay, as far in towards the jetty as draft permits; or south of Bulldog point; or anywhere along the eastern shore.
Strong local offshore northerly breezes can spring up at night, without warning, particularly during the summer months. Caution should therefore be exercised if anchoring in waters that offer protection from winds that are forecast from the opposite direction. Rafting up overnight is not recommended for this reason.
Though tide turns are normally between one and two hours later than those for Pt Lincoln, both the timing and the level of tides are noticeably affected by difference in barometric pressures between Coffin Bay and the ocean hundreds of miles to the west and south.
When entering the town reach keep close to “the Horn”; the water is steep to close in but the reef is not far out; ? be also alert for fishing boats coming around “the Horn” like crazy.