The Whitsunday waters are protected by the Great Barrier Reef and the islands themselves and are consequently considered partially smooth waters. It is for this reason that no formal qualifications or licenses are required to charter. You do need to have some hands on basic sailing or boating experience to Competent Crew level. Competent Crew level means knowing how to pull the sails up, carrying out tacks and some anchoring and navigation experience. For most catamarans, this is all that is required.
For more complex and premium catamarans, such as the Leopards (384, 443 and 444) the skipper needs at least 5 days sailing experience on a similar sized vessel in the past 12 months and the first mate needs at least 3 days experience.
Charters commence with a comprehensive briefing following by a vessel handling test. If you just need a brush up on your skills, there is the option of hiring a sailguide.
Unlike other destinations around the world, when you hire a catamaran in the Whitsundays you have support via radio and mobile phones while you are away and you are required to check in with the base twice daily to make sure you are safe.