FAQs | Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

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Frequently Asked Questions

We're one of Australia's longest operating charter boat specialists and we know the Whitsundays and sailing inside out. If there's anything you need to know, we've got you covered.

  1. What is bareboating?
  2. The term bareboating refers to a boat you can hire and skipper yourself. You choose the vessel whether it be a yacht, catamaran or motor cruiser, and take yourself around the Whitsunday Islands at your own pace and in your way.
  3. Do we have to charter alone or is there someone who can run it for us?
  4. We will give you a training session before you set sail. For most people with some boating knowledge, this is enough to take your vessel out without a professional. If however, you would like a guide to join you for one night, or the duration of your trip, you can add a sail guide to your charter. Talk to our team about customising your trip to make sure you’re comfortable.

  5. Do I need a license to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays?
  6. The Whitsundays is one of the only places in the world where you can charter a yacht without a boat license. No formal sailing qualifications are required to hire a yacht from us.

  7. How much sailing experience do I need to hire a boat?
  8. If you are planning to put the sails up and you don't have much experience sailing, you may need some sail training prior to heading out on your own.

    If you’re not confident sailing, you can just motor any of our vessels. Our experienced briefers will tailor your boat and area briefing to suit you and your crew and make sure you are all confident bareboaters.

    There are ways to prepare for your charter if you want to boost your boating confidence. You can participate in the Whitsundays School of Sailing, read books, watching online videos and of course you can always opt to add a sail guide to your trip to help you find your sea legs. Sail guides can attend for a day or the whole trip, it's up to you. If you’re questioning your boating knowledge or it’s been a while since you were in charge of a boat, have a look at this online quiz for boating knowledge revision

    Please remember, The Whitsundays are known for tranquil waters and they are a great location for novice sailors and boating enthusiasts. It's highly likely that you will have favourable weather conditions and there is always help on the radio should you need it.

  9. Do we have to sail or can we just motor?
  10. All of our vessels are motor friendly, which means you don’t have to put the sail up if you prefer to motor.

  11. Before we set sail, how does Whitsunday Rent a Yacht prepare us?
  12. Every person who charters a yacht with us will receive a three-hour induction on operating their vessel and the Whitsundays cruising area,  (timing varies with previous experience and additional time is available on request).

    When you arrive, we will help you board and take you through an overview of your vessel below and above deck. Then, we’ll take you through all aspects of navigating through the islands, weather conditions and suitable anchorages.

    If you have special interests such as diving, fishing, walking or seeing the island resorts - this is the time to ask – our team has vast experience in all areas and are here to help you make the most of your charter. You will be taken out of Shute Harbour for a test sail with one of our trainers to make sure you’re comfortable with handling your boat. After the training session, our instructor will take a dinghy back to our base and you’ll head out through the passage to your first night’s anchorage. Luckily, Shute Harbour is the closest mainland port to the islands and your first night of freedom in paradise is not far away!

  13. Do I need to know how to navigate?
  14. We recommend that at least one person on your yacht brushes up on their coastal navigating knowledge before you set sail, but you don’t need to be a navigation expert.

    Your briefer's instructions will show you how to use the chart (map) of the Whitsundays, tide tables and simple navigation instruments to safely travel through the islands. You will rarely be more than a couple of kilometres from land, making 'line of sight' navigation simple and easy. Our team will be on-call 24/7 for any q’s you may have, and we can also provide additional navigational tuition on request.

    More information on Navigation see this post: Basic Yacht Navigation: Tips for your bareboat charter

  15. Do I need to know about tides?
  16. It’s important to understand the tides when you are boating in the Whitsundays. The tides in the Whitsundays can have a significant effect on your cruising holiday. The approximate tidal range is from 1.3m at neap tides and to a 3.8 m at spring tides. Even if you are not a tide guru, the important things to keep in mind is that there can be a large variance between high and low tide and some areas will experience strong currents. We will take you through this when we do your briefing on your vessel.

  17. How can we learn how to sail before we go bareboating?
  18. The Whitsundays School of Sailing operates from our base at Shute Harbour.  The school offers three Royal Yachting Association courses which run over 5 days. If you want some basic knowledge before you hire a yacht, we recommend doing the level 1 course. Level 1: Competent Crew, learn to sail basics Level 2:  Day Skipper Practical Level 3: Coastal Skipper Practical

    Training before chartering will ensure you can make the most of your time, but it is not absolutely necessary. You will be given a very detailed safety and operations briefing before you set sail on your charter.  

  19. How much water is on the boat for drinking and shower use?
  20. Your vessel will come with enough drinking and washing water to last you 5-7 nights. We will teach you how to make it last.  If you’re on a long charter, you will be able to get more water from the Hamilton Island marina or back at Shute Harbour which is only 60 minutes from Hamilton Island.

    Please note that we do recommend bringing some water bottles for adventures off the boat.

  21. Where do we get fuel from when we're sailing the Whitsundays?
  22. Your yacht will come with a full fuel tank and you are charged only for the fuel used (calculated when you return). Running out of fuel is unlikely on a 7night charter. If, however, you need to re-fuel you can return to our base in Shute Harbour.  Alternatively, there is a fuel station at Hamilton Island Marina, where you will have to pay a marina fee plus the cost of the fuel.

    Find out more information on fuel on our post booking information sheet

  23. How much does it cost to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays?
  24. It depends on four factors 1 - What season you want to travel in 2 - How many people you need to fit on your boat 3 - What type of vessel you want to hire 3 - How long you want to go for

    See our online booking system found at the top of every page on our website to establish exact figures.

  25. How long should we hire the boat for?
  26. We suggest that it’s best to hire your boat for seven nights so that you have enough time to relax while also seeing the sights. Plus, the longer you go the better the nightly rate will be.  If you can only do a short period, that’s ok too, we want everyone to experience the Whitsundays.

    Contact our team for short duration charters, which may be available during low and midseason.

  27. What is the best time of year to sail in the Whitsundays?
  28. It’s possible to sail in the Whitsundays all year round with different seasons offering different experiences.

    Since we’re located in the tropics, we have a wet season which generally runs from December to March. It's a great time of year to enjoy waterfalls, heat and fewer crowds. Our dry season is in winter, running from June to August and it coincides with whale season, where humpback whales migrate to have their babies in the shelter of the islands. The shoulder seasons are always a great time to visit too.

  29. When is the peak season in The Whitsundays?
  30. Mid September to mid October and late December to early January is our peak season.

  31. When is stinger season?
  32. October through to May is stinger season in the Whitsundays however, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in the water.  You can hire stinger suits from us all year round.  Not only do the protect you from stingers but they will also protect from the sun and keep you warmer during the cooler months.

  33. How many people can fit on one charter yacht?
  34. The maximum number of people we can accommodate comfortably on one of our vessels is 10.

  35. Do I need insurance when I hire a yacht?
  36. While travel insurance is not essential, it is recommended. A small, additional investment when you book ensures you’re protected if your holiday is interrupted by illness, a family emergency or severe tropical weather.

    We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance for travel at any time of the year.  While late summer is a great time to visit the Whitsunday Islands, weather conditions can vary. If you’re holidaying with us during this period, travel insurance, including cyclone cover, is especially important.

    For Australian residents please see Oceanic Marine Insurance for information. For international travellers please refer to your preferred travel insurance provider before travel.

  37. When is race week in the Whitsundays?
  38. In the winter season, the Whitsundays hosts two race weeks, one from Airlie Beach and one from Hamilton Island. Thousands of sailors and tourists flock to the area to see these world-class events. This can be a great time to visit so you can be a part of the buzz and entertainment, or if you want a quieter holiday you may like to plan around these calendar events.

  39. How do I get to the Whitsundays?
  40. Located on the Queensland coast just north of Mackay, the Whitsundays can be accessed by air, car, bus and rail.  The main airports servicing the area are the Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport (PPP) and the Hamilton Island Airport (HTI). 

  41. What type of airport transfer do you have?
  42. If you are coming straight from Proserpine Airport we recommend you book a transfer in advance. You may like to contact: Whitsunday 2 Everywhere or Heart of the Reef Shuttles.

    For guests starting their charter from Hamilton Island, please use Resort Link to get to the Hamilton Island Marina.

    If you are flying into the Hamilton Island airport and chartering from Shute Harbour, Cruise Whitsundays meet all flights at Hamilton Island airport and operate ferry services to Port of Airlie in Airlie Beach. You can then take a 10-minute taxi to our base at Shute Harbour.

    Note that if you are flying to Hamilton Island we can arrange for your vessel to meet you at the Hamilton Island marina. (However please be aware that the option to sleep-aboard the night before the charter is only available in Shute Harbour.

    If you need any assistance with your travel plans, please let us know.

  43. How close is Shute Harbour to Airlie Beach?
  44. Shute Harbour is 10 km from Airlie Beach, through the stunning Conway National Park to the east. While Shute is only a short drive from Airlie, chartering form this harbour will save you at least two hours in getting to the islands.

  45. Where can we park our car when we charter from Shute Harbour?
  46. Please be advised that there is no onsite overnight parking at our base. Guests have the option of leaving their car in the nearby outdoor council car park or by pre-organising secure valet parking for a fee with Whitsunday Parking, Phone: 0427 317 218

  47. We are travelling with a caravan, where should we leave it?
  48. If you are travelling with a caravan you will be able to make arrangements with Whitsunday Parking, Phone: 0427 317 218 or with a nearby caravan park.

  49. Can we sleep-aboard our boat the night before or after our booking?
  50. Yes, you can, it's called booking a sleep-aboard.

    For a low fee, the sleep-aboard service enables guests to stay the night before their charter booking on their boat while it is docked at Shute Harbour. There are many advantages to booking a pre-charter sleep aboard which you can read about in this post: 10 reasons you should sleep-aboard the night before you set sail.

  51. What time can we check-in?
  52. Or standard check-in time is midday however, on request we may be able to fit in an earlier start (subject to availability).  We recommend arriving 15-30 minutes prior to your check in to finalise any paperwork.

    If you have arranged a sleep-aboard, your check-in time is 4 pm the night before your charter booking. Sleep-aboard guests receive their briefing at 8 am on the day of their charter.

  53. What time do we have to return our yacht?
  54. Check out is 10 am at either Shute Harbour or Hamilton Island.

  55. Can I have my vessel delivered to Hamilton Island?
  56. Certainly! Just make your request when booking. We can deliver your vessel to Hamilton Island at the start of your charter and pick it up from Hamilton Island upon conclusion. (Charges apply).

  57. What sort of weather and temperature can we expect to pack for?
  58. The Whitsundays are situated near the Tropic of Capricorn, where the weather is tropical and pleasant virtually all year. From May to September the islands experience south-east winds, with northerly winds with calm periods prevailing during the rest of the year. Temperatures range from 25C to 30C in January and 17C to 23C in July.

  59. What should we bring?
  60. Apart from food and clothing all vessels come fully equipped. Bring light personal clothing, a book, camera and possibly a tracksuit for the cooler months between June and September. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are musts. The after-dark dress code on all resorts is neat casual.

    See our packing list for a more detailed list on what to bring on your bareboat charter.

  61. Is there a way for food and supplies to be delivered to our yacht before we check-in?
  62. Yes, if you don’t want to do a food shop before you arrive at our base in Shute Harbour, you can arrange for supplies to be delivered to your vessel. 1. You can use one of our provisioning partners who offer a range of services from eat and heat meals to shopping based on a meal plan to providing incredible gourmet platters. You can learn more about our provisioning partners and their offerings here 2. Another option is to do an online shop with one of the leading supermarkets and ask for your shopping to be delivered to Shute Harbour. Please note that you will need to be at the base for the food to be delivered (which can be a bit of a logistical juggle)

    If you are starting your charter on Hamilton Island, you can still have one of our provisioning partners provide the food to your vessel.  Alternatively, there is a large IGA on the island close to the marina.

  63. What happens if we run out of food?
  64. If you run out of food you can return to our base in Shute Harbour to pick up supplies arranged through your provisioning company or you can head into Airlie Beach to re-stock, Hamilton Island is also an option for re-stocking, they have an IGA (Hamilton Island marina berthing costs apply).

    If you are chartering for longer than eight nights, we suggest a mid-charter stop at our base where you can refuel, take on fresh linen, provisions, and anything else you need.

  65. Can we bring our dog?
  66. When you visit the Whitsundays, you enter the World Heritage-protected Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which is home to thousands of species of fish, birds, animals and marine life. To protect our pristine marine area, domestic animals are not permitted in the marine park, the six Queensland National Parks (protecting 70 of the Whitsunday islands) or the four National Parks on the mainland.

  67. We are travelling with an infant, do you have a cot?
  68. Please let us know if you plan to travel with an infant, we will be able to advise of the layout of each vessel and the measurements of the space available for a cot. You can arrange for a portable cot to be delivered to our base through Airlie Beach Baby Hire. Please note that by law infants are included in the passenger's headcount.  Our sales and operations team are all experienced in sailing with young children and would be happy to assist with any information to reassure you.

  69. Is there any internet on our yacht?
  70. We offer free wi-fi to all charters at our base in Shute Harbour. The boats you hire from us are not fitted with modems but you will find that there is mobile phone coverage on the western side of Hook and Whitsunday islands and around Hamilton & Hayman Island. 

  71. Do we get an itinerary? Or do we just travel to random places?
  72. We are happy to assist you with customising an itinerary to suit the weather and wind conditions on your charter. If you are in the planning stages, and want an overview of a suggested route and sights to see, ask us to send you some sample itineraries. Or, you can go where the wind takes you and plan each day as you feel.

  73. Are there any restrictions on where we can sail in the Whitsundays while on a bareboat charter?
  74. There is a set cruising zone for people who charter with Whitsunday Rent a Yacht. The parameters are Shaw Island to the East, Edward Group islands on the North East around to the North of Hook Island and Hayman Island and then down to East of the Gloucester passage.

    See our map for recommended anchorages in the Whitsundays.

    If you would like to explore areas outside the cruising zone such as the outer Great Barrier Reef or Gloucester Passage and Hydeaway Bay, then we suggest you look at our Flotilla holidays.

  75. Do we get a map and details of the cruising areas?
  76. Yes, you will be given very detailed navigation map along with a copy of the Whitsundays sailing bible, 100 Magic Miles. This book contains all of the information you’ll need to know when sailing in the Whitsundays, from which moorings are better in which winds, to obstacles to look out for at each anchorage to local tips.

  77. Can I anchor anywhere I want? For example, if I find a secluded beach can I anchor there?
  78. This question can be answered by referring to the 100 Magic Miles book (supplied on your boat). Look up the desired location in the book to see if there are any guidelines to anchoring, or you can call us on the radio to find out.

    If you are looking at what overnight anchorages are available, check out our interactive anchorages map.

  79. Can we visit the island resorts on our bareboat charter?
  80. There are several resorts in the Whitsunday Islands which welcome Bareboat charters. * Daydream Island: Charters can use the resort facilities and there is one mooring available at Lovers Cove. Ask the team at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht to help secure your place. * Hamilton Island: Hamilton welcomes bareboaters to book a berth in the marina and use the extensive resort facilities. $125.00 Overnight or $20 per hour up to 4 hours (minimum of 2 hours). Book your berth in advance. * Palm Bay Resort on Long Island: Moorings available on application

  81. How do I pre-book the Hamilton Island Marina?
  82. Bookings can be arranged by contacting Hamilton Island Marina on VHF Channel 68 or by phone on 07 4946 8353 during office hours, 8.00 am - 5.00 pm

    We recommend booking berths in advance, particularly during peak season (please note that fees may vary on New Years Eve)

  83. Can we sail to the Outer Great Barrier Reef when we charter a yacht through a Whitsundays bareboat company?
  84. Bareboat charterers in the Whitsundays are not permitted to sail to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsunday Islands are surrounded with stunning fringing reefs and they are still a part of the Great Barrie Reef Marine Park.

    If you would like to see the Outer Great Barrier Reef from your private yacht, we recommend you join one of our flotilla sailing groups.

  85. What are the must-see places in the Whitsunday Islands?
  86. It’s hard to choose the must-see places, you could visit the Whitsundays many times and always see something new and beautiful. To give you an idea on what the “crowd favourites are”, here are 6 anchorages that first-time visitors love.

    1.  Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Island
    2.  Nara Inlet - Hook Island
    3. Tongue Bay - Whitsunday Island
    4. Chalkies - Haslewood Island
    5. Cateran Bay - Border Island
    6. Langford Island

    For more great tips on the best places to see in the Whitsundays:Cruising the Whitsundays, 20 places that charters love Discover the 10 best beaches in the WhitsundaysThe 10 best snorkelling spots in the Whitsundays  

  87. What activities can we plan for when we hire a yacht in the Whitsundays?
  88. You can make your bareboat holiday as action-packed or as relaxing as you like. You may consider planning to add these activities to your adventure

    • Fishing – You can hire gear from Airlie Bait & Tackle (07) 4946 6632 and arrange for it to be delivered to your vessel. 
    • Bushwalking – Ask us to help add some of the best walks in the Whitsundays to your itinerary
    • Snorkelling – all snorkelling gear is complimentary when you hire a yacht with us. View a map with our recommended snorkelling sites.
    • Scuba Diving – Hire gear from Aqua Dive
    • Stand up paddle boarding & kayaking – We can add the gear to your boat on request
    • Whale Watching – the season is July to September
  89. Is bareboating safe?
  90. The Whitsunday region is one of the world's safest boating destinations. It's sheltered from ocean swell by the Great Barrier Reef and numerous islands which provide calm, and often completely protected natural anchorages.

    During your cruise, we make two scheduled radio calls each day. Each morning, we'll establish your plans for the day. Each afternoon at 4 pm, we'll confirm you are safely anchored for the night. You are free to contact us throughout the day by radio.

  91. What do I do if I get stung by a jellyfish?
  92. As the weather gets warmer the jellyfish may appear in the Whitsunday waters. The "stinger season" is from late October to May.

    If you do by chance get stung by a jellyfish it may be an emergency situation, to be safe please contact us immediately via your radio or call if you have reception. Irukandji jellyfish stings are very dangerous for children and elderly people. After calling on the radio wash the stung area with the vinegar provided on your boat.

  93. Should we be concerned about sharks in the Whitsundays?
  94. In recent years, there has been an unusual increase in the number of shark attacks in the Whitsundays. While the risk of shark attack can be alarming, we encourage you to learn about being shark-wise so that you are not putting yourself in any danger and so you can still safely enjoy sailing in the Whitsundays.

    The number one rule when you charter a yacht through the Whitsundays is never swimming at Cid Harbour. It's a great sheltered anchorage, but if you swim here you are putting yourself in a high-risk situation.

    Please don’t be alarmed. We suggest you follow these Shark Smart guidelines provided by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to enjoy our waters responsibly. 

    • Follow local signage and swim between the flags at patrolled beaches
    • Don't swim at dawn or dusk — sharks are more actively hunting at these times
    • Swim, surf, snorkel or dive with a buddy
    • Always swim in clear water — not in murky water, estuary mouths or canals as this can increase the potential of mistaken interactions with sharks
    • Don't throw food scraps or fish waste overboard (including in anchorages or where people are swimming)
    • Use on-board holding tanks while in anchorages — even black waste can attract fish, which in turn attracts predators
    • Don't swim near or interfere with shark control equipment
    • Don't swim where fish are being cleaned

     

  95. I get seasick, is that a reason to not hire a yacht in the Whitsundays?
  96. We can’t say that you won’t get seasick, because some people feel sick at the slightest waves and of course the ocean is an unpredictable place. We do know that people who are prone to seasickness who charter with us manage their nausea with seasickness tablets and acupuncture bracelets. More importantly, it’s rare that they are sick because the waters are often so calm and there are many land-based activities to enjoy in the day time.

    Team Tip: If you are starting to feel off take the helm!  By focussing on steering the vessel your mind will be focussed on this task and this is likely to reduce the onset of seasickness.

  97. How do you keep the kids safe? Is there a lock on the door at night so they can’t get out unsupervised?
  98. Many of our charters are families with young children. All children are fitted with lifejackets and we recommend as a general rule that children under the age of 12 wear a lifejacket whenever they are on deck or out of the saloon area.

    We provide some more safety suggestions in this post: Safety tips for sailing on a charter with kids It is not possible to lock the cabin doors. If you are concerned about your children wandering around at night you’ll be able to lock the saloon door, stopping little explorers from getting onto the deck.  

  99. What health and emergency services are available in the Whitsundays?
  100. Proserpine has a modern hospital and there are medical centres and pharmacies in Airlie Beach and Cannonvale. Medical assistance is also available on island resorts.  A list of contacts is available on every vessel.

  101. What happens if we get into trouble?
  102. Your first course of action is to radio our base where our experienced staff can assist you with almost any problem. Our base is manned from 8 am-5 pm daily and we will also provide you with an after-hours contact to our off-duty manager.

    High-speed helicopters and commercial craft will generally respond to any emergency within minutes. We also maintain a high- speed power craft capable of day or night time operation, and as the Whitsundays is a popular marine destination there is a range of vessels nearby at all times.

    A bareboat safety management plan is included on-board every vessel. When you receive your briefing at hand over, you will be taken through the steps to take in a difficult situation.

    Your safety is our priority. Please keep the lines of communication open with us if you have any concerns or mishaps.

Aerial view of Shute Harbour and surrounding coast and islands with the Whitsunday Rent A Yacht jetty in the foreground

The Whitsunday Rent A Yacht base is located at beautiful Shute Harbour.