How to prepare a crew of beginner sailors


Crews of beginner sailors will possibly have a more relaxing experience if they do some preparation before a bareboat charter.

Many people who charter a bareboat are beginner sailors. In other words, they have no boating or sailing experience.

We have protocols to support our guests in taking their boats out with complete confidence and freedom. However, there are some ways to prepare a beginner crew for a charter; just for peace of mind, particularly if they want to sail.

We will share preparation tips for novice crews and recommend some sailing courses and how to sail videos in this post. Because we think, the more people experience the Whitsundays with the wind in their sails the better!

Shute Harbour learning to sail

Preparing a crew of beginner sailors to Charter the Whitsundays

Allocate a captain

If you’re a novice crew keen on sailing, we suggest allocating a Captain and even a First Mate who will do the preparation and maybe even a course before your charter. While everyone will be briefed and have their part in running the boat, it helps to have someone across essential operations who can keep the team together.

Really keen Captains or First Mates may like to purchase a copy of the “Whitsunday’s Bible” 100 Magic Miles prior to your charter. A copy of this book will be on your boat.

Does everyone know how to swim in the ocean?

Note that swimming in the open water is different from swimming in a pool.

Is anyone prone to seasickness?

We suggest packing seasickness medication regardless of personal history. The Whitsunday are often calm, but we can’t guarantee glassy conditions!

Tips to manage seasickness include

  • Steering the boat.
  • Spending your daytime itinerary doing land based activities eg. beaches & hikes.
  • Choosing anchorage locations that are close together.
  • Acupressure bracelets

Does everyone want to holiday in the same way?

There are many activities around the Whitsundays, including snorkelling, diving, fishing and visiting Island resorts. The tropical vibes do lend themselves to a slower, relaxed pace, and some people just want to chill on deck skipping the action based stuff.

It’s a good idea to briefly chat about the type of things your crew would like to do while sailing the Islands and the places they would like to see. Remember that itineraries are completely weather-dependent, so a flexible mindset is needed.

Is everyone aware of the costs before you book?

There will be expenses beyond the initial booking fee with a bareboat charter. Things like insurance, fuel, resort berthing fees and food will all need to be considered and budgeted for as a group.

Stopping in at Hamilton Island and staying at the marina for a night or two is often a highlight for bareboat guests. If your crew wants to do this, you may want to check that everyone has the budget for eating out and bars.

Learn more about the costs of bareboating.

Plan your Provisioning

Decide what sort of provisioning you want to organise. Will it be through a local provisioning company, or is a stop off to Coles in Airlie Beach in order? Some crews do a meal sharing plan, which is excellent. Just make sure it’s communicated before you shop.

Are sunset cocktails on the itinerary? Maybe allocate someone to bar duty so this important holiday addition isn’t overlooked!

Packing Tips

Make sure the crew packs light with soft luggage. The weather is mostly warm in the Whitsundays, but some nights require a jumper, and in winter, you may need something a little warmer. Check out this bareboat charter packing list and review what’s included on a bareboat.

learning to sail whitsundays

What training is given for a bareboat charter?

All bareboat charter guests in the Whitsundays undergo a 3-4 hour safety and boat briefing before they can take their charter vessel out themselves.

If the crew is competent, they are free to begin their holiday.

Beginner crews may require some more training time, which can be arranged at booking or at the discretion of the briefer.

Learning to put the sails up is a part of the briefing session. Once the boat operations have been discussed and instructions are given for dropping the anchor, moorings, tides and navigations – the crew are taken out for a test sail. This is when the trainer will show you how to get your boat underway. Once you’re feeling confident, the trainer returns to our base in a second tender, and you are free to continue sailing to your first night’s destination.

The great thing about chartering from Shute Harbour is the nearest overnight anchorage is under an hour away. This means if you have a longer training session, you won’t need to worry about getting to your anchorage in time before dusk.

sailing whitsundays

Sailing tips for beginners

It’s impossible to learn how to operate a boat and sail from an article! The best way to learn is to have someone show you and then do it yourself. But if you want to prepare to learn sailing in the Whitsundays, keep these simple tips in mind.

Learn basic sailing terms and lingo

It will help your briefer if you know terms like “bow”, “stern”, “tack” and “jibe”. Sailing is one of those activities that can seem like it has its own inner language. It’s great to brush up on the terms.


Navigation in the Whitsundays is mostly line of sight, which is the simplest form of navigation. Your boat will come equipped with all the navigation equipment you need. Some people use apps like Savvy Navvy to, which brings loads of handy weather and navigation info into one place.

Remember the boom!

Watch out for the boom. If it knocks you in the head, you could be seriously hurt. Be mindful of it when walking around on deck, especially when tacking and jibing.

Always have someone on the lookout

Allocate a person in charge of steering and looking out when you move between anchorages. In the Whitsundays, you need to watch for other boats, reefs & whales! It’s best to keep your vessel at a safe speed so you have time to correct it should you be heading to an obstacle.

Safety First

Your safety is our priority. You will be given safety instructions in y our briefing. We require that everyone does a radio sched (radio call) to our base every morning and evening at 4 pm. This is, so we know where you are for the night and know your intentions for the day.

When sailing, everyone on deck should wear a life jacket.

Resources for Beginner Sailors

We suggest that those keen on sailing do a course before their Charter; for peace of mind.

We’ve pulled together a list of the sailing courses we recommend for novice sailors and skippers. See our sailing courses list.

There are some courses explicitly designed for beginner bareboat charterers.

Bareboat Charter Sailing Courses in Queensland

Bareboat Charter Preparation Course with Southern Cross Yachting, Manly Brisbane, QLD

Bareboat Charter Sailing Courses in Victoria

Prepare to Charter with the Yachtmaster Sailing School, Melbourne, Victoria

Introduction to Bareboat Cruising with Sandringham Yacht Club, Victoria

Bareboat Charter Sailing Courses in NSW

Prepare to Charter a Monohull Yacht with Liquid Edge, Sydney, NSW

Learn sailing basics with these videos


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Whitsunday Rent a Yacht acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and in particular the Traditional Owners of the Whitsunday's Region, the Gia, Juru and Ngaro People; We recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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