Many people wonder if they’re able to enjoy sailing the Whitsundays without any boating experience. The short answer is yes, but it helps to do some research and a little preparation.
In this post, we’ve compiled suggestions on how you can prepare for a Whitsundays sailing adventure and what support you can expect. We’ll give you tips from our sales and operations team, details on our sail guide service and interview a recent guest on how he found sailing the Whitsundays for the first time.
It’s not essential to have boating experience to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays. In fact, the Whitsunday Islands is one of the only sailing grounds in the world in which you do not need a boat license to charter a yacht.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to sail when you hire a yacht. All of our boats have motors and can be operated without needing to put the sails up.
All guests, no matter what their boating experience, are given a 3-4 hour training session before they take their vessel out to the islands.
If it’s your first time on a bareboat charter, your session may need to go for more than 4 hours, in which case you will be charged $50 per extra hour.
The training sessions cover:
After the training session, if your briefer feels you will need more guidance, they will make recommendations such as more training time or adding a sail guide for your first night.
Please make sure you tell the sales team when confirming your booking that you haven’t chartered a bareboat before.
The team may advise that you:
All guests need to radio-call our base in the morning and the afternoon of every day.
The morning call is an excellent opportunity to seek itinerary advice, discuss the conditions and your plans for the day.
We ask that everyone arrives at their intended anchorage by 4 pm for the afternoon radio sched. This is so our team know where everyone is spending the night.
Radio support is available between 7:30am – 5pm. After hours phone support is available in case of an emergency.
Quick call out response and support:
If needed, we can send a support boat from Shute Harbour to assist with your vessel's operations. Our base is the closest mainland port to the islands, so we can respond quickly.
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht also have a partnership with our region’s leading support vessel business, Mars Charters, who have vessels located at Shute Harbour, Hamilton Island & Airlie Beach. Mars are available to assist bareboat charters quickly in times of need.
Help is never far away among the islands:
The Whitsundays is a popular sailing ground for bareboat charters and also many experienced sailing enthusiasts on private boats. If you did need immediate assistance, you could use your radio to communicate with nearby boats.
Experience and practice are, of course, the best ways to learn about operating a boat; however, there are a few things beginners can do to prepare for sailing the Whitsundays.
Having a sail guide aboard your vessel will calm any nerves and allow you to learn about running the boat and even how to sail. Sail guides will ensure those who lack experience or confidence have a relaxed time as soon as they set out.
We go into guides in more detail later in this post.
For those who are daunted by the idea of spending an entire week on a boat, a stay at Hamilton Island mid charter is a great way to diversify your Whitsundays sailing holiday.
There is something for everyone to enjoy at Hamo. For a fee, you can berth your boat at the Hamilton Island marina giving access to the resort facilities including the shops, restaurants, spas and public pools.
We interviewed Tom from 4 Boys and a Caravan to get his perspective on what it’s like sailing the Whitsundays when you haven’t done it before.
Tom, Aimee and their 4 boys are a full time travelling family. They had always dreamed of sailing the Whitsundays, describing it as an item which has “been on their bucket list for a long time”. Sailing with us in August 2020, they didn’t let a lack of boating experience stop them from having an epic family adventure.
We had never driven or sailed a yacht before our recent charter in the Whitsundays.
The training we received from Whitsunday Rent a Yacht was excellent and gave us all the confidence we needed. Our briefing went for 4-5 hours, and our trainer made sure we were comfortable before we went out on our own.
Chartering a yacht was an amazing experience for the kids and us. We explained how to be safe on a boat and around the water. It wasn't long before we felt confident in the way they handled living on the water and we didn’t have to worry about them at all. The boys loved learning about the ocean, reading maps and being a part of “the crew”.
There is so much to see and do around the Whitsunday Islands from Island hopping, snorkelling, fishing, bushwalks, lookout trails, caves.
We chartered for 7 nights as well as staying the night before our booking on our boat while it was at the Shute Harbour jetty (which we highly recommend). Personally, we wouldn't go any less to really see a lot without rushing.
We were a little nervous about picking up a mooring because it was something we had never done before. But the training covers the process well and we didn't have any issues.
Dropping an anchor is relatively simple. There are little tricks to keep in mind, such as let out five times as much chain as the water is deep. But you just need to do it once to get the hang of it. Make sure you practise dropping the anchor in your briefing session.
I (Tom) usually always get seasick and have to take tablets. For this trip, I never once had to take anything. I believe it helped driving the boat myself. Also, the seas around the Whitsundays are mainly calm. We were advised on the best overnight anchorages to stay out of winds.
We suggest that if you’re interested in sailing the Whitsundays, call the team at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht. They can help find a package and vessel to suit your needs.
Chartering a yacht for a week is worth every cent for the adventures and the memories it creates. Being able to explore the Whitsundays on your own terms is a truly incredible experience.
Enjoy this video from 4 Boys and a Caravan showing highlights from their trip.
When you hire a yacht with Whitsundays Rent a Yacht, you have the option to hire a fully qualified sail guide to accompany you on your charter. Guides can join you for one night or the duration of your trip; it's up to you.
Don't worry about having a stranger join your crew; all of our sail guides are amazing people who will add a positive experience to your trip. You might not want them to leave!
Sail guides are different to skippered charters, you can learn more about the difference in this post.
Every member of the Whitsunday Rent a Yacht team is geared around ensuring you have a safe and memorable experience chartering a yacht in the Whitsundays.
If you are thinking of chartering a yacht but feel you don’t have enough experience, the best thing you can do is talk to our team so they can customise your experience to suit your needs.
If you have any questions about sailing the Whitsundays, please don’t hesitate to ask. (contact details)
Join us to go sailing in the Whitsundays & enjoy the freedom to explore