Basic Yacht Navigation: Tips for your bareboat charter

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Basic Yacht Navigation: Tips for your bareboat charter

When you bareboat in the Whitsundays, it helps to have prior basic yacht navigating skills, but it’s not essential.

When you charter a yacht with Whitsunday Rent a Yacht, it helps, but it's not essential that one person on your vessel has basic yacht navigation skills.

Only basic coastal navigation skills are required because the Whitsundays is one of the safest sailing grounds in the world. It’s for this reason that you are not required to have a boat licence or any sailing qualifications when you charter in this protected part of the Queensland coast.

Navigation in the Whitsundays is all line of sight. This means you don't need any sophisticated skills to navigate a rented yacht from us. 

navigating whitsundays

Basic yacht navigation training

You’re given a training session before you set sail and your briefer will make sure you’re well acquainted with the navigation equipment onboard your vessel. They will show you how to read your compass, measure distance on your chart and accurately determine the time it will take to sail from one location to another.

For people who have a basic understanding of navigation, the briefing session will be more than enough to bring you up to speed.

If you would like additional navigation training or you don’t have any experience, we invite you to book a sail guide to join you for your first day, a night or even the whole time on your trip.

We also offer the Whitsunday School of Sailing courses. The level one course is very appropriate for people wanting to learn basic navigation skills.

The navigation equipment which comes on your yacht

Provided for use during your charter is a laminated marine chart of the Whitsundays and a copy of 100 Magic Miles - the unofficial "Whitsundays' bible".

For those who are keen to study the area before a sailing holiday, you can order a copy of 100 Magic Miles by David Colfelt when you make your booking.

You will also find your boat is equipped with a GPS chart plotter, the marine equivalent of your car's Sat Nav, the only difference being you will not have a voice advising you to turn left in 300 metres.

The chart plotter will accurately show your vessel's position every second of every day. It will also show your vessel's course and your speed in knots. This instrument is a comforting back-up to the navigation you will do with your chart and your 100 Magic Miles.

Basic yacht navigation

Tips for navigating on your bareboat charter in the Whitsundays

Your briefer will fully explain all the information you will need to safely and confidently navigate the islands and choose safe, comfortable overnight anchorages.

You may like to consider these tips:

  • Check out this interactive map with our recommended anchorages.
  • You will find that you can navigate the islands through a line of sight by lining up headlands, islands and prominent features
  • You can usually see the next island you want to head to which makes the Whitsundays very simple to navigate around!
  • As a rough guide for how long your course will take, divide the total distance by 5kts (nautical miles per hour).  When estimating how long it will take you to arrive at your next destination, make allowance for tides, winds and waves, as this might increase the trip’s time by up to 30% or more. Also, allow times for picking up your mooring or anchoring.
  • You need to be at your night's anchorage by 4 pm to radio our base and confirm you are safe.
  • There are a few areas to pay special attention to when you’re chartering the Whitsundays: The area surrounding Hayman Island – Langford Reef &  Bali Hai (Black Island), “Unsafe Passage” on the northern end of Daydream Island, French Shoal situated approximately 1 mile east of and running parallel to Whitehaven Beach, French Shoal is simply not visible from deck level on your boat.
  • Make sure you never anchor on coral or near coral where your chain could damage it
  • By commencing your charter at Shute Harbour you will have a shorter crossing to the Islands.

What more can I do to prepare for my bareboat charter?

You may mind these articles useful when in the planning stages of your yacht charter with us.

Cruising the Whitsundays: 20 Places Charterers Love
How to anchor a Boat
The Whitsunday School of Sailing

And remember, we are here to help, to make you feel safe and comfortable while enjoying an amazing experience in the Whitsundays. Please let us know if you have any concerns or would like to learn and prepare before your charter so we can point you in the right direction.



Join us to navigate the Whitsundays and enjoy the freedom to explore

  Contact us 1800 075 000 or

GPS chart plotter aboard a Whitsundays sailing vessel

All WRAY charter vessels carry the latest in navigational equipment to help your plot your course around the Whitsundays.