Private Charters Vs. Bareboating in the Whitsundays
Without a doubt, chartering a powered or sailing yacht around the Whitsundays is one of the best things you’ll ever do in your life. To have a truly intimate and private experience, a lot of people look at booking a private charter or hiring a bareboat. There are benefits to both, but how do you know which is right for you? We’ve got all the pros and cons you need to make an informed decision in order to plan the perfect holiday that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
The Benefits of Both
Private charters and bareboat share similar upsides as opposed to booking a normal tour. One of them being you get to choose the passengers you spend several days with on a boat, instead of the luck of the draw that comes with booking on a normal overnight charter boat. It can also be tricky if you aren’t aware of different products attracting different age groups and demographics-You certainly wouldn’t want your 50-year-old parents to end up on a backpacker party boat or a boat full of small children for 3 nights!
The Whitsundays are made up of 74 islands, including Whitsunday Island which is home to the world-famous Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, so there is plenty to explore! The added value of a private charter or bareboat is having the time and freedom to explore whichever areas you choose and set your own pace. If you’re a fan of sailing, then you can race from island to island, taking in the beauty surrounding you in your own sailor's paradise. If relaxing, snorkelling, and exploring the islands on foot is more your cup of tea, then you can do so! The world is your oyster, and setting your own itinerary means you can do as much or as little as you please.
It is more affordable than you think when you and a group are choosing to take over a vessel of your own. With boats in the fleet taking anywhere from 2-50, you will find that once you break down the cost per person, per night, it can be more cost-effective than staying in a resort on land.
Private charters are a great way to get a personalised itinerary and boat to yourselves, without the stress and responsibility that comes with sailing a boat on your own. With only a small crew of 2-3 depending on your vessel, you can relax and have a drink while your meals get prepared for you and the crew sail you around the islands, or choose to get involved with sailing. The benefit of a private charter is you can have no experience sailing, but still feel safe in the hands of your highly trained, certified and experienced crew.
The crew in the Whitsundays also bring with them a plethora of local knowledge and chomp at the bit to get the chance to go off of the “bus route” that encompasses a normal tour. You’ll get the chance to explore secret beaches and coves, pristine snorkelling sites with healthy and dynamic reef systems that never see crowds, and of course, get the chance to have Whitehaven Beach all to yourself! The crew utilise their wealth of abundant knowledge about the wind, tidal conditions, currents and seasons to maximise your experience out on the water, so you’ll get the best underwater visibility, set the optimal sailing course, and stay far off the beaten path of too many other boats. They will also utilise their experience and knowledge of the area to safely navigate through the many fringing reefs in the Whitsundays, as well as choose the calmest anchorages for the night. You can still create your own itinerary, but you will have the advantage of the professional recommendations of your onboard crew.
Another benefit of hiring out a private charter is the variety of vessels you will have to choose from. Almost every overnight tour offers private charters as an option, as long as you book as far in advance as possible, and are able to depart/return on their normal weekly departure schedule. If you'd like to go for longer than the scheduled tour days, you'll need to enquire about how many days can be catered for, and you may look at combining a couple of trips but not returning to harbour in between them. Your meals are prepared for you, which also means there are no dishes or cleaning to do at the end of a long day. Private charters also cater to most food allergies and dietary requirements, so you won’t have to remember your sister in law is now vegan, or that your grandmother is allergic to nuts! Everything you may need for basic comfort is provided and stocked on the boat for you, and charters are all-inclusive except for alcohol usually, so there are no hidden costs or add ons. All private charters provide the standard equipment required for snorkelling, and some even have extra complimentary activities available, such as stand up paddleboards and kayaks.
If you or your party have some knowledge of boating or sailing and want the freedom and privacy of having a boat to yourselves, then bareboating might be up your alley. Since there is a lot more involved with booking a bareboat charter, it is important to be well informed before deciding if this option is right for you. Whereas private charters come with a crew, bareboats are self-driven. While no experience is necessary, you’ll still need a valid drivers licence, and be prepared for a lesson and briefing for up to 4 hours the day before departure. You will have to rely on charts and books on your vessel to find out which places to go since you won’t have a crew on board. Your only lifeline should there be an emergency will be through your radio, as most mobile networks don’t cover areas offshore except near island resorts - That, or a nearby vessel.
If you aren’t a seasoned boaty, then you’ll also have to take extra precaution when navigating around the many fringing reefs, as the Whitsundays are located in the Great Barrier Reef National Marine Park, so there are plenty around you’ll need to avoid. You’ll also be limited to how far you can travel each day, as you must be anchored before sundown for the evening, and radio in your coordinates. If you aren’t a confident sailor, this is also something you should bear in mind when looking at the weather and season, as sailing can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
You’ll be responsible for purchasing your food and stocking the boat prior to departure, as well as preparing your own meals and cleaning up afterwards. Alternatively, you may opt to splurge on a provision company, who will do your shopping and delivering for you, and some have options to purchase ready-made meals you can just heat up on the boat. Be sure to weigh up whether you will want to do any additional activities, as you will need to bring your own gear unless you want to hire them for an extra fee. This includes snorkel gear, kayaks, fishing gear, and stand up paddleboards.
You will want to take out liability insurance, as anything that should happen to the vessel while you are out at sea will be your responsibility. Usually, most bareboat companies require a minimum of a $1000 bond, and you’ll have to take into account the cost of food and fuel in your final figures. Most bareboat companies offer an option to hire on a skipper for an extra fee to give passengers peace of mind, however, if you choose this option on a bareboat, you will still be liable should anything happen to the boat out at sea. If you’re planning on having a skipper on the boat anyway, you’d be better off choosing a private charter, as the certification requirements for skippers on tour vessels is much stricter than on bareboat, and since the cost is about on par with each other you will have much more peace of mind to enjoy your holiday.
Once you’ve weighed up the options and speak to your group of friends, colleagues or loved ones, you’ll be on the right track to start planning your personalised Whitsundays holiday! It’s your holiday, so why not take the stress out of it? Enquire with us today on our latest special seasonal offers for a wide range of private charters, from budget to luxury, and let us help you build your dream holiday to the Whitsundays today.