Looking for that ultimate family experience? Then you should definitely consider becoming your own skipper and experience all the Whitsundays has to offer all from the comfort of your own boat. This is exactly what our 2020 Ambassador family 4 Boys and a Caravan did back in August: Sailing the Whitsundays.
Check out their adventures and tips below! Real Families | Real Stories!
It was one of those once in a life time experiences that was on our list to do: sailing around the Whit. We had an incredible time and made memories that will last a life time. The best part was we didn’t even need a boat licence or any previous sailing experience to bareboat charter ourselves.
There is so much to see and do around the Whitsundays so personally we would recommend chartering for at least 7 nights taking into consideration winds and any bad weather that can change your plans. Even if you encounter some bad weather, there are plenty of options like Hamilton Island and Palm Bay Resort where you can take shelter. This really is an amazing way to see the Whitsundays on your own terms and at your own pace.
We chartered on a Lagoon 40 Catamaran ‘Chantilly’ with the crew at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht. This one sleeps a max of 8 people. The layout of this boat was a perfect fit for our family with 3 cabins. One side has a double bed toilet/shower and the other side has 2 double beds with toilet/shower. It contains a fully equipped kitchen with fridge/freezer, oven, stove top, microwave. TV/DVD player, air conditioning, gas BBQ on deck, VHF 2-way radio and a 240 v inverter.
If you are used to caravanning, you will easily adjust to living on the boat. For example, you still have to be careful of your power and water usage. You can’t just go and get fresh water from anywhere, so showers have to be time limited. The water tanks however are quite large and can be anywhere from 800 to 1000ltrs. If you do run low on power there is always a generator on board that can recharge your batteries and run any 240v appliances. The toilets need to be emptied, but this is a lot easier than the caravan way. You just open a valve when you are in open water.
Our Sailing the Whitsundays adventure began the night before our first charter day. This is a “sleep aboard” option that we highly recommend, as it gives you the chance to get everything on board and packed away without having to rush the next morning. If you’re anything like us, you may have forgotten some things so it’s handy to make sure you have everything you need and pick up anything you may have forgotten. We had a great first night moored up in Shute Harbour; we even threw a few rods in on the jetty and caught our first fish of the trip.
The first morning started at 8am with our 4-hr training. This can be longer if you have very little boating experience. You are taught how everything operates on board from planning your itinerary, how to read the maps, navigation, UHF and understanding the tides and winds. Furthermore, you learn how to use the depth finders and how far you can ideally travel in one day. You go over the boat operations including batteries, water, fuel, using the sails, anchor and mooring. They also give you a copy of 100 magic miles which will be your bible while on the water. Everything from snorkelling spots to where to anchor. Everything you need is in this magic little book. This book also became a fantastic schooling resource for us. Our eldest couldn’t wait to get a hold of his own copy once we got back to shore.
There are a few requirements that you also need to abide by. Firstly, you have to be moored or anchored up by 4pm every day. There are also scheduled radio checks that need be done twice a day. One is done in the morning which you advise where you are planning on going and where you are looking at stopping for the night. They will give you the go ahead to carry on with those plans or give you another suggestion for a better option.
The other radio check is later in the arvo. This is to make sure you have arrived at your destination safely and to make sure you had a great day. If you fail to communicate on two consecutive radio checks, they will then send out a search party to make sure everything is ok. When there are strong winds you are restricted to the west side of the islands due to rough seas on the east side. This is all done for your safety.
Once you have completed your training, you are then free to sail away by yourself. Your instructor will sign off that he is happy with your knowledge and you will also sign off saying you are confident in what has been taught. He or she will then jump in their tender and head back to the harbour. You are now all on your own and that feeling is somewhat scary but exhilarating at the same time. This experience was honestly one of the best things we have ever done and we can’t wait to do it again.
For a full itinerary on where we went and what we did, please check out our blog at www.4boysandacaravan.com
Like to read more stories from 4 Boys and a Caravan on Caravanning With Kids? Check out their amazing story from Lady Elliot Island from earlier this year!
Sailing the Whitsundays