The double bed that’s port and aft aboard Lady Eugenie, the 23m yacht that’s home base for a Tasmanian sail walk, is no different to the bed on the starboard side, apart from one thing. Sting slept here.
Oh yes, the mind boggles. Sting visited Tassie with wife Trudie Styler and is famous not only for his music but for once quipping that he and Trudie indulged in seven-hour Tantric sex sessions (he later said those seven hours included dinner and a movie). So as I’m rocked to sleep ever so gently, I’m pondering what those little devils got up to in Tasmania.
You don’t have to be rock royalty to step aboard this two-masted luxury vessel, one of 15 Scorpio 75s from the renowned US-based yacht designer Robert Perry (who attended the same Sydney school as the guys from AC/DC). The yacht, built for comfortable and carefree cruising, once shuttled guests to Kangaroo Island for another venture but today it’s the base for the Tasmanian Walking Company’s Wineglass Bay Sail Walk.
Eugenie ferries guests from one photogenic east-coast hike to another, including a challenging ascent of Maria Island’s twin peaks, Bishop and Clerk.
I can breathe easy. I’m here to sample a snippet of the full itineraries. From Hobart, we zip 80km up to Orford to board a tender that takes us to Lady Eugenie, bobbing in the water with Maria Island in the background. The autumn sun is sparkling with such intensity that another layer of sunscreen has to be slapped on.
After scrambling on to Lady Eugenie’s teak decks I’m assigned to Neptune, a snug hidey-hole lined with golden timbers and decorated with photographs of the Tasmanian landscape. The windows and drapes are dollhousescale; I poke around the cupboards and bedside nooks, admiring how the clever design keeps things in their place even if it gets wild outside.
Before taking a flying leap up on to the bed, passengers must step through a vestibule that’s one of the world’s most compact bathrooms (the showerhead hangs above the loo and the toilet paper lurks behind the vanity door). Instead of regular toiletries, there are handmade, chemi- The Tasmanian Walking Company’s Guided Wineglass Bay Sail Walk, which starts and ends in Hobart, runs every season except winter. Next season, the four-day itinerary starts from $2850 a person twinshare; the six-day itinerary starts from $3850 a person twinshare. The sail walk is one of three itineraries offered by the company, which plans to launch a fourth, the Three Capes Lodge Walk, around the Tasman Peninsula, next summer. Virgin Australia co-founders Brett Godfrey and Rob Sherrard bought the Tasmanian Walking Company in 2013. Their improvements include adding Lady Eugenie and refreshing the lodges featured in the high-end guided walks. More: taswalkingco.com.au; qantas.com. cal-free amenities such as a soap-shampoo from Tasmanian outfit Beauty and the Bees.
Skipper Stephen Reid and offsider Mitch Anttilla get us on our way, tossing instructions into the breeze as Lady Eugenie makes for a tiny speck between Maria and Schouten islands. “Ease her out a bit, mate,” Reid instructs from behind the wheel as Anttilla finetunes the rigging. As he slows, Reid asks what’s wrong. “I’ve gone soft,” the strapping Anttilla says. “You’re weak!” Reid bats back. Who doesn’t love a bit of high-seas camaraderie?
The 8ha granite rock named Ile des Phoques (Island of Seals) heaves into view. It is geologically significant for sea caves and the phosphatic flowstone created over the ages from seal excrement. As we float closer, the stench reaches our nostrils and the sunbathing Australian fur seals slip-slide into the sea.
Lunch is served alfresco near the wheel before we cruise to Schouten Island, which dangles from the tip of Freycinet Peninsula. As the boat bobs harder; I head to bed to ride out the rough patch (Reid says guests are also welcome to take the wheel, which helps ease nausea).
The lie-down cures my queasiness but I miss a pod of dolphins shadowing Lady Eugenie.
Crocketts Bay, on Schouten’s north coast, is calling. The water here is an unexpected shade of South Pacific blue and so clear you can count sand ripples on the ocean floor. Stand and listen to the water rolling tiny quartz and feldspar pebbles along the shoreline; the sound is as alluring as a gush of expensive champagne.
We rock-hop and scramble up Bear Hill (my water bottle is stashed in a bush when I realise I need both hands) and return to the beach to find a table loaded with Ninth Island fizz and fresh oysters. The crew is skilled at springing surprises and after the beach treat, we repair to
Lady Eugenie, Wineglass Bay