You don’t need to be a world-class sailor or an experienced yachty to enjoy time out by hiring a boat around the Whitsunday Islands, one of the world’s best sailing destinations.
The first recorded sailor into the Whitsundays was the person who named it, Lt James Cook. He sailed into the area on Whit Sunday in 1770 and named the passage between the northern islands Whitsunday Passage. In the 230-plus years since sailors and "wannabes" from all over have made their way to the Whitsundays for a sailing experience that is simply world-class.
Access is certainly easier these days with regular flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Hamilton and Proserpine airports. And sailors are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a boat and a sailing experience.
Skipper yourself yachts, catamarans and launch’s; crewed charters where guests hand over the responsibility but still get to be part of the action on an ocean racer or a tallship; luxury launches or premium yachts; and learn to sail holidays are all up for grabs.
‘Bareboat’ is the term used for skipper yourself charters and in the Whitsundays there are a variety of operators who provide flotillas of yachts, catamarans and motor launches of varying sizes for charter. Hirers do not require a licence but it is recommended at least one of the party have sailing experience.
The charter companies give a thorough briefing and trial run before hand to ensure you are confident in handling the vessel and they also maintain daily radio contact for position and to assist with questions. The boats are well maintained and provide all the essentials for a few days sailing with everything from safety and navigational equipment to onboard shower and toilet, galley, dinghy, outboard as well as fishing and snorkelling gear. All the supplies you'll need are provided upon request.
Crewed charters are a great alternative for more the tentative sailor, and again there is an excellent collection of classic yachts and ketches (triple-masted) available. Choose a square-rigger tallship or climb aboard an America's Cup legend, a classic yacht, a hi-tech catamaran or a performance racing yacht.
Great food, good company and comfortable accommodation go hand in hand with an unforgettable experience and you can do as little or as much as you like.
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