Expectations and Briefing

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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.

The Briefing Process

The Briefing Process – easy and comprehensive! Nearly anyone can hire a catamaran in the Whitsundays!

A key part of planning for your holiday, the briefing process provides essential information to make your holiday the most fulfilling and relaxing that it can be. Briefings take approximately 2.5 – 3 hours. The briefings take 3 key parts.

The Area Brief – approximately 1 hour with 5 key points

  • A Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority conservation video (20 mins)
  • Navigation Briefing
  • Weather Brief
  • Itinerary Suggestions (based on weather forecast)
  • Scheduling Requirements (‘scheds’)

The Vessel Brief – approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour (every catamaran is different)

  • Sail rigging
  • Navigation systems
  • Engine/generator systems
  • Anchoring systems
  • Power and lighting systems
  • Hot water systems
  • Toilet and shower systems
  • Safety systems (radio, lights, fire and first aid)
  • Operation of the tender/dinghy
  • Inventory check and condition report

Boat Handling Test – approximately 45 minutes

  • Anchoring/Mooring
  • Manoeuvring
  • Sail Handling

Your briefer will then pilot your vessel out of the harbour (no need to worry about finding the exit or manoeuvring your vessel in the tight space of the marina). Command will then be handed over to you to get familiar with, and demonstrate your ability to handle the vessel. The more confident you and your crew are with handling the vessel, and the quicker you can get the briefer confident in your ability, the sooner you can get away. You will be asked to complete some drills including starting/stopping the engines, figure of 8, anchor up and down and a sailtest (pull and reef the mainsail, set and furl the headsail, perform a tack and gybe).