Considering a Whitsunday charter with Queensland Yacht Charters (QYC) then you are in for the trip of a lifetime.
If you’re considering a Whitsunday charter with Queensland Yacht Charters (QYC) then you are in for the trip of a lifetime. The Whitsundays really does have it all. Great sailing, safe anchorages, diving, walks and teeming with wildlife.
With twenty charters under sail in the Whitsundays I still yearn for more. Our first charter started with a 32ft Catalina monohull called Little Jeannie. You could say she cast her spell on us. Since then we have chartered a broad range of monohulls and catamarans.
As a Tasmanian sailor I like the competence of a monohull yacht in an offshore blow but is hard to beat the sheer comfort and space of the cruising catamarans. The livability is unquestionable and the many friends and family I have taken chartering love the roominess, while operationally they are simple to sail and have dual engines to aid maneuverability.
Our Whitsundays Experience
From our experience there always seems to be favourable weather periods in the tropics and we have had very few interruptions to our trips. That said the winds can blow, ‘called bullets’ but there is an abundance of sheltered ports offering refuge. It’s also great to see the environment in a differing light with typically dry waterfalls and streams flowing. Onboard the rare cloudbursts we’ve encountered are like a heaven-sent warm shower without the need to conserve water.
Knowing the ropes
Knowing the ropes as they say helps if you are new to sailing and chartering. Try to get out on a local yacht at your home port and understand the basics. Many sailing clubs offer tuition, and the investment in boat skills will build confidence and ensure you enjoy your trip that much more.
Though the number of moorings has increased across the cruising area you may need to anchor at some stage. Knowing how to anchor is, in my opinion, essential. I have seen boats put into sticky situations and their charterers stressed due to poor anchor technique, but that can be easily overcome with a little knowledge. I recommend watching a few YouTube videos and you’ll get the idea. I stress anchoring as it gives you so much freedom to explore this great natural resource. The QYC Procedure Manual that you receive prior to your charter covers this in good detail.
If you want an area and navigation overview of the Whitsundays before you go then grab a copy of David Colfelt’s 100 Magic Miles. It is the definitive guide to cruising the Whitsundays and every charter boat has a copy. Alternatively, you may be able to loan a copy from your local library. It provides extensive detail about all anchorages and when they are suitable for predicted weather conditions.
Remember you’re never alone on a charter. You will check in twice a day on the marine radio and you can always call anytime for advice. Listening in during the schedules lets you know what others are doing and can give you an indication of how busy some areas may be.
When cruising the Whitsunday’s understanding the tide will improve your overall experience. In short, ‘wind against tide’ makes the water lumpy and ‘wind with tide’ is far more comfortable. Similarly strong currents occur in narrow passages between a few islands so it’s best to transit these around high or low tide when the current is minimal. QYC will detail these in your area briefing as well as going over all aspects of your chosen yacht.
A great mobile app that simplifies tidal understanding is Willy Weather (Andriod App / IOS App). I recommend you install this on your mobile as you get a simple graph showing the height of tide and if it’s rising (flooding) or falling (ebbing).
Whitsundays Charter highlights
For me one of the trip highlights is a dinghy trip up Hill Inlet at the end of Whitehaven Beach. Enter the inlet an hour or so before high tide so you have plenty of time to explore the mangrove areas and swim in the sandy channels. You’ll be delighted by Bango’s rays and fish darting beneath you.
Hill Inlet from Viewing Platform
Immediately to the north is Tongue Bay. There are many moorings allowing you to leave you yacht safely and go ashore in the dinghy. Remember to secure the dinghy and consider if the tide will raise or fall during your stopover. There is a well-made track up to the Hill Inlet viewing platforms which offers superb views of the inlet and the full length of Whitehaven Beach.
No doubt you’ve heard about marine stingers and Irukandji. Yes, they exist so plan to minimise the risk. We always use full body stinger suits or Lycra suits and have had no troubles at all. So what if you look like a beached whale on the boat, it will generate some good laughs while reviewing the post trip photos. The peace of mind in my opinion is well worth it. QYC will help sort this out or you can see the dive shop. The Coral Bay Marina dive shop is always across what’s happening around the reefs and the boss has a brilliant sense of humour. You have been warned.
After 20 Whitsunday Charters
It is hard to believe that after 20 charters we still haven’t seen it all. The general cruising area is fantastic but with experience and increased confidence you can also get yachts to venture further afield to places like Thomas Island in the south and Gloucester and Bowen in the north.
Days on the water are so different to land based activities. You can race a fellow yacht, even if you don’t know them or just cruise, there’s no pressure. After mooring or anchoring, relaxing with a drink and nibbles tops the day off while the sun sets, and the stars come to life.
There is also something special while lying in your bunk and hearing whale sounds permeating the hull during the silence of the night. One of my favourite experiences is swimming over reefs with turtles. They are truly the ultimate underwater pilots with their smooth, untroubled, and effortless motions.
I could go on forever about the wonders of the Whitsundays, but I hope these notes help give you the confidence to get out and enjoy this tropical treasure, and I know Queensland Yacht Charters can provide all the guidance you need to make it happen.
See you on the water,
Cheers Glenn (aka Captain Lighthouse).
I am a passionate club and open water sailor and enjoy training others to make the most of our waterways. I am an Australian Sailing Keelboat Instructor, Tasmanian Motorboat Licence Instructor, Certified Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster and logged over 50,000 nautical miles at sea.
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