We had slept in late on this Sunday morning. On days like these, I like daydreaming and taking the time to watch boats sailing on the river. It is among my favourite activities when we stay in Brisbane City and a good reminder of why I made the Sunshine State capital my home. But this time, my relaxing Sunday plan was about to fail.

With two tall masts and four sails, the majestic 100-foot long sailing boat that suddenly appeared on the Brisbane River was impossible to miss. Where did it come from? Why was it here?

The website address (www.southpassage.org.au) was featured big and clear on the sail so I could get all my answers easily. It’s one of the very rare times when COVID-19 brought an exciting last-minute opportunity. Although South Passage – the name of the boat in reference to the channel between Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) and Moreton Island – is based near Brisbane, it rarely sails the Brisbane River. They only come to the city for special events such as Riverfire or Australia Day. The non-profit association is usually too busy taking school kids up and down Australia’s East Coast to teach them how to sail, plus a few other life lessons from Mother Nature along the way.

Like too many organisations, they had to adapt to find a source of revenue and stay afloat in 2020. So the volunteers took the beautiful boat to the City for a tour. We spotted it just in time to book tickets and head to New Farm Park River Hub to embark on the return journey to the Port of Manly.

What to expect when joining the South Passage crew for a short trip

Passengers on South Passage are welcome to participate in the sailing tasks as much or as little as they want. Some prefer to relax while others are keen to learn as much as possible and steal the skipper’s spot for as long as they can. I bet you can guess in which group we belong to.

Don’t be shy to get involved: the volunteers are patient and used to beginners. You can even steer for a while. Despite its massive size, the boat is surprisingly easy to turn. The skipper will stay by your side to give you directions and a few tips.

We had sailed Moreton Bay a few times, but it was our first opportunity to cruise on the Brisbane River all the way to the sea. It feels quite special to leave the City behind. It was also an opportunity to get a different point of view on Brisbane and its suburbs. We discovered a few things along the way!

Unfortunately, the wind wasn’t strong enough for us to actually sail. We wouldn’t have made it back before the sunset without the motors. Still, it was lovely and quite a unique way to experience Brisbane.

Want to sail South Passage? Check out their public trips on their website!

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