When people think of a Queensland summer and bareboating, they assume it's not a good time to hire a yacht. There's a common belief that sailing the Whitsundays in the summer, when it's the wet season, is a bad idea.
But we want to let you in on a little secret, just because they say it’s the wet season in the Australian sub-tropics, it doesn’t mean it’s raining constantly. And just because you’ve heard it can get hot in Queensland, this isn’t necessary true when you’re living on a boat.
Understanding summer sailing conditions in the Whitsunday Islands can open up great charter opportunities for people in the know. If you choose to go bareboating in summer you will be able to experience the Whitsundays from a completely different perspective and for a great price.
Read on to learn everything there is to know about summertime sailing in the Whitsundays.
Summer in the southern hemisphere runs from December – March.
The official wet season in the Whitsundays is from January – March.
If you book a charter in late November and December you can enjoy low season rates, calm seas and fewer people. It is stinger season, but that just requires a stinger suit for snorkelling and doesn't mean you will miss out on any activities.
One of the best-kept secrets about sailing in the wet season is the temperature is warm and so is the rain! It doesn’t rain constantly, with the tropical heat being broken up by showers which only last for a few moments before the sun starts shining again.
The heat throughout the Whitsundays summer is constant, running between 28-32 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The ocean provides sea breezes and the water temperature stays at 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).
There is humidity is high at around 80%, but when you are on a boat the sea breeze takes the edge off.
Winds generally come from the east or the north and they are mostly light at around 15 knots.
Sailing conditions in the Whitsundays are generally smooth waters thanks to the shelter from the islands and the Great Barrier Reef. This isn’t to say there aren’t rough areas, some larger expanses of water in the Whitsundays, such as The Passage, can get big swells with strong winds. But generally speaking, thanks to the light winds sailing is smooth over the summer period.
It’s always a good idea to check the wind conditions regularly when planning your charter, it goes without saying that the weather can be unpredictable even in the most predictable seasons.
And just in case you were wondering, the windiest months in the Whitsunday Islands are from March until May.
To stay comfortable and cool, you will want to avoid anchorages and moorings which are exposed to the northerly winds.
We recommend these anchorages when the northerly winds are blowing and the temperatures are high:
It's possible to hire a yacht with air-conditioning if you are concerned about the humidity. The downside to an air conditioner is they are powered by a generator which can be loud.
If the idea of a generator is not appealing to you, you can opt for a vessel that has ample shade cover in the cockpit. If it has sails, that's even better! Sailing is a great way to feel that refreshing breeze. You might also like to look for a vessel which has cabin fans, these can help a lot with airflow down below.
Put simply, if you go sailing in the Whitsundays over summer you will get a great deal. Summer is not peak season and the rates to hire a yacht are significantly lower, we’re talking savings of up to $500 a day. This means that if you charter for several days you reduce your hire costs by thousands of dollars!
If you want to compare rates throughout the seasons check out our rates page.
The wet season isn’t really a wet season. It doesn’t rain on the majority of days in the Whitsundays over summer and showers pass quickly. Towards the end of summer, we do get more rain, but it usually happens once a day in the afternoon.
The good thing about bareboating in the wet season is the rain is warm. You might find that you look forward to the occasional freshwater warm shower, it's refreshing on a yacht.
After the dryer months, when it does eventually rain the Whitsunday Islands come alive. Waterfalls on many of the islands burst forth with a renewed and powerful energy, which makes for great photo opportunities and pleasant freshwater swimming. The best waterfalls can be found by pulling up at Nara Inlet or Stonehaven Bay on Hook Island.
A stroll through a Whitsunday rainforest in the wet will give a whole new perspective to the term “rain forest”! The tropical forest smells fresh and new, running streams and rivulets add to the ambience. Many forms of tropical wildlife including birds, frogs and reptiles often become more active throughout the wet which is great news for the quiet observer.
Due to the increased chance of north easterly winds over the summer period, you can plan to stop over at some of the south-facing anchorage points and moorings. Enjoy a stop-off to Turtle Bay or a visit to Lindeman Island where you can hike to Mount Oldfield to see breath-taking views of Pentecost, Hamilton and Whitsunday Island.
Perhaps one of the biggest drawcards for sailing the Whitsundays in summer is you will get to experience the Islands away from the peak season crowds. Many of the popular anchorages will be uninhabited, meaning you will get to experience this amazing part of the world all to yourself. What an opportunity!
If you are looking for a way to hire a yacht at a great rate and to see one of the world's most spectacular sailing destinations all to yourself, then you don’t look past a summer bareboating holiday. For more information and to compare summer rates please visit our rates page and please get in touch with any questions.
Join us in the Whitsundays and take your family on a bareboat adventure they will remember