Sydney Harbour – West- Humbug

The area of Sydney Harbour, or Port Jackson west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is locally known as the Western Harbour. This is the area we we do the majority of our racing, it is also home of the infamous small stretch of water known as Humbug (more below). it is where Greenwich Flying Squadron Twilight Courses are located, also most of the Saturday races and the Combined Clubs Western Harbour Winter Series.

We are privileged to be able to sail our yachts in such a beautiful area as the Western Harbour area, so close to the city center. To get an idea have a look at the video “Greenwich Flying Squadron” here

Greenwich Point
Greenwich Point at the mouth of the Lane Cove River.

Entering Humbug, Greenwich Point to the right.Nov 8, 2107. Photo Lisa Craig

Western Harbour is also the home of “Humbug” that infamous 350 meters of water at the entrance to the Lane Cove River.
“Humbug: …. names the Lane Cove River entrance for the fickle winds it creates……”
This quote is from “Cruising the New South Wales Coast”. Author, Alan Lucas. Publisher, Alan Lucas Cruising Guides. www.alanlucascruisingguides.

The local topography has a strange effect on the winds, which can be extremely fickle and when combined with some erratic tidal movements makes racing in this area extremely challenging. All of the GFS twilight races, and a lot of Saturday race courses, have competitors navigating the area directly after the start and just before getting to the finish line.

Humbug Yacht Parking
Yachts in Humbug

Half way through Humbug Nov 8,2017. G-whizz on the right has her stern to the camera. Photo Lisa Craig

In all but a howling Northerly or Southerly the winds in Humbug will inevitably be substantially less (and substantially more erratic) than those further up the Lane Cove River or out in the Parramatta River. Wind shifts of up to 180 degrees are common which makes sailing interesting. It is quite common for a number of boats to bank up in this area as the photos (taken by Lisa Craig) show. Many races are won and lost in the “Humbug lottery”.

The 2003 edition of “Humbug” (The Greenwich Flying Squadron” annual magazine) has these words addressing an apparent contemporary concern about racing through Humbug “Having to sail through Humbug to finish the race at the club is considered by some to be a negative. Maintaining or improving your position through Humbug is part of GFS sailing tradition (Lane Cove Sailing Club similarly) and a good topic for discussion after the race, however contrary to popular belief it isn’t a lottery.”

The better sailors seem to have a better record of taking advantage of Humbug’s vagaries, to them it may not be a lottery, to the rest of us mere mortals we take our chances.

West Harbour Area Map:


G-whizz Elan 340


Lane Cove Sailing Club, located about 3/4 of a mile further up the Lane Cove River from GFS.