Do I need sailing experience to bareboat charter?

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Do I need sailing experience to bareboat charter?

The best way to see the Whitsundays is by boat and thankfully, it’s not hard to take a bareboat charter out to experience them.

The most common question we get asked is "Do I need sailing experience to go on a bareboat charter?".

The simple answer is no. When you choose to bareboat and be your own skipper in the Whitsundays, no license and minimal experience are required.

The Whitsundays is one of the safest bareboating destinations in the world

The majority of the 74 Whitsunday Islands are uninhabited national parks surrounded by turquoise water, sandy beaches and fringing coral reefs.

What makes the Whitsundays an ideal sailing location is that the waters are naturally calm and protected. The outer Great Barrier Reef stops large swells and the scattered islands offer many protected options to suit all wind conditions.

Bareboat charter Whitsundays

You don’t need a boat licence to bareboat charter the Whitsundays

The Whitsundays is one of the only places in the world which does not require yacht charterers to have a licence.

If you were to charter a yacht in places like Greece or the Bahamas, you would need sailing qualifications and a Marine Radio Operations License. But here, in Australia’s tropical paradise, no qualifications are required to charter a bareboat yacht.

We do suggest that one person on your charter has some basic boating knowledge and we are required to have at least two crew members over the age of 18 on each vessel.

We prepare you for your bareboat charter

Before you begin your bareboat sailing adventure, you will receive a comprehensive briefing with one of our qualified team members. 

Your briefing will take 3-4 hours. The sessions consist of an in-depth area overview, vessel operation briefing, safety procedures briefing and finishes with an on-the-water “test sail”, where you practice handling the vessel underway with your instructor.

If the briefer feel you may require some additional tuition, we will arrange for them to accompany you for the remainder of the day or a few hours, as required.

We provide a comprehensive vessel operations manual on-board to answer all the questions you may have about the vessel or its equipment. We also provide a copy of "Whitsundays' bible" 100 Magic Miles and a local area chart to assist with plotting your charter adventure daily.

All vessels have a marine radio to contact base and we have a twice-daily “radio sched” where we provide weather updates. In your morning radio sched, you can ask us any questions on where to stay. You will need to have found your nights anchorage by 4 pm each day so we know you're in a safe place for the night.

Navigation in the Whitsundays is "line of sight". Our waters are partially smooth and there are plenty of calm and protected anchorages to choose from. Only basic navigation skills are required, which is something we cover off in your briefing.

And remember, you don’t have to know how to put the sails up. All of our vessels can be operated with just the motor on.

bareboat charter whitsundays

Add a sail guide to your charter

If you are new to bareboating or sailing, you may like to consider adding a sail guide to your charter. Sail guides are a great reassurance if you’re crew lacks confidence with navigating, operating the boat, sailing, using the radio, dropping an anchor and picking up moorings.

A sailing guide can attend your charter for an additional 3hours while you're out amongst the islands, or you can even opt to have one stay a night or the duration of your trip. It’s up to you.

Prepare yourself for your bareboat charter

If you are a novice or simply want to brush up on your boating knowledge there are a few ways you can prepare for your bareboat charter:

The Whitsundays are a pristine and world-class sailing location and taking a bareboat charter out is the ultimate way to experience them.

We have a range of yachts, catamarans and motor cruisers to suit all experience levels and abilities. If you are interested in going on a bareboat charter, please get in touch with our sales team. We’re happy to answer and questions and to help tailor your experience to suit your boating knowledge.



Join us to bareboat in the Whitsundays and enjoy the freedom to explore

  Contact us 1800 075 000 or

A bareboat crew learns how to sail in the Whitsundays

All you need is some boating experience and two members of the crew who are over 18 to hire a vessel for a bareboating holiday.