Whitsunday Islands ¬†Sailing one of Australia’s must Do’s

There are only a few destinations around the world that attract the recreational sailing enthusiast the way the Whitsunday Island group does.

A haven for both the beginning sailor and the old salt, it is a destination with crystal clear aquamarine coloured water, secluded cove, white sand beaches and hundreds of places to drop anchor.

Whitsunday Islands over 200 designated anchorages.

The Whitsunday Island group is the largest of the four groups of island that make up the Cumberland islands.

The Cumberland Islands is the largest group of off-shore islands around Australia and is within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Group has six national parks

The Whitsundays group’s name is from the Whitsunday Passage that was named in 1770 by James Cook on his first voyage.

Cook described the passage as ‘Indeed the whole passage is one continued safe harbour ‘.

The group has about 74 islands, most of which are significantly different from the other islands in the Great Barrier Reef.

The majority of the islands in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are coral islands while in the Whitsunday’s it is the Continental islands that rule.

A Continental island is actually a mountain top of a submersed mountain range.

About 10,000 years ago, sea levels rose leaving just the tops of the tallest mountains visible.

These mountain top islands have more extensive and complex plant life than the newer coral islands and may rise to a much higher elevation.

Whitsundays Sailing
Whitsunday Sailing

Barefoot Cruise

Unless you have your own ocean going yacht, doing a barefoot cruise is the most common method that sailing enthusiasts use to explore the Whitsundays.

In the simplistic terms, when you lease a boat for a barefoot cruise you get the boat.

The responsibility to finding a crew, provisioning the boat, park and mooring fees and deciding where to go is all up to you.

From the legal viewpoint, when you do a barefoot charter, you take on all ownership responsibility.

If you feel you are qualified, you can captain the vessel and your family and friends can become the crew.

When you get a barefoot cruise, there is normally a sail guide, for an hour or so, that helps you learn the sail boats features and will help you take it out for a short spin.

Many people will arrange for the sail guide to remain aboard for the first 24 hours. Most Barefoot charters are five days or longer.

Private Crewed Charter

Another option is where you take a full charter of a vessel with its crew. In this arrangement, the owner maintains legal responsibility but defers to your desires as to locations and daily activities. Depending on the contract, Provisioning is generally not included.

Whitsunday Islands
Heart Reef, Whitsundays

Crewed Charters

A number of companies have yachts that sail on set schedules and guest can reserve a cabin on a sailing with other guest joining in the other cabins.  For a couple or those wanting a shorter sailing time this might be the best option.

Types and size of Vessels

The types of vessels and size vary by company but most vessels are between 10 and 18 metres long.

The most common vessel for all types of charters is the sailing catamaran. These provide a comfortable cruise and are the easiest to sail for a beginner.

They also have a level of performance that an experience sailing enthusiast will enjoy.

The sailing yachts are mono-hulled vessels and are sometimes a bit more upscale than the cats. Powered Catamarans and Motor cruisers are not as common as the sailed versions but are available.

Whether you go barefoot or do a crewed charter, exploring the Whitsundays is a sailors dream come