Sailing Whitsundays: Which is the best boat for you?
If the notion of getting “shipwrecked” (not literally, of course) in the Whitsundays surrounded by seas filled with marine adventures appeals to your inner pirate, then baton down the hatches and study this list to find out which boat best suits your Whitsundays sailing holiday style.
From bareboating to motor boating, we’ve got you covered.
The Derwent Hunter – a grand old sail
Owner Warren Ladd first spotted The Derwent Hunter as an 11-year-old boy and vowed he would one day own the old girl. Three decades later – after stints as a rodeo cowboy, a fisherman and a travel agent – he chanced upon the Derwent Hunter a second time and added “sailor” to his career highs.
Built in 1946 by Walter Wilson, a then 80-year old master shipwright, the 22-metre Derwent Hunter is the last Australian vessel built to work by sail. So charming are her lines that the boat starred in 39 episodes of the 1960’s smash hit Australian TV series, The Rovers.
Today, the Derwent Hunter relives the romance and adventure of bygone times, stopping at colourful snorkelling sites on half- and full-day tours, while offering a hands-on sailing experience to those on board.
Prices start from $175 per adult for a day trip or $525 for a family of two adults and three children.
Best for: Seafarers who want to blend history with snorkelling in a full-day sailing tour.
A Little Bit Nauti – celebration sailing
Contrary to its name, this modern girl is a whole lot naughty. She’s decadent, finely crafted and comes with an exceptionally large salon dominated by a dining table fit for 10 hungry sailors. There are four good-sized double cabins, two bathrooms and enough hidey holes to keep you guessing where the second bar fridge is for at least half a morning.
The only one of its kind available for hire in Australia, this cat retails for $750,000 brand new. With that in mind, it makes complete sense to hire Nauti for a week for just $7750 (in shoulder season) and toss in a little more coin for a captain to hoist the sails while you kick back and relax.
Best for: A performance sailing cat, A Little Bit Nauti suits both the hard-core and the Champagne sailor and is perfect for milestone birthdays and flashy adventures. Tip: Snaffle the front cabins first, they have windows that open to the sky.
Solway Lass – the party pirate
Just like that iconic shot of Marilyn Monroe in a billowing ivory dress, the 1902-built Solway Lass is a vision of rare beauty when her 10 sails and 5500 feet of cloth fan out against the horizon.
Solway’s history is as dramatic as her silhouette; Wham! The Brits acquired her as a prize of war in 1914 before Bam! the Nazis snaffled her back in WWII. Fortunately, the charming lady was patched up in time to become the leading tall ship for Australia’s First Fleet re-enactment in 1988.
Today, a three-day three-night cruise to Whitehaven Beach and other stunning locations starts from $589 per person in a four- or six-bunk cabin.
Best for: Wannabe sailors who love the romance of history but prefer to leave the jibbing, tacking and hoisting to someone else.
Providence V – for time-strapped sailors
She might be known for day trips through Hook Passage, but what sets Providence V apart from the other classic sail boats are her nightly sunset sails from Abell Point Marina.
For two hours, seafarers can sail around the Whitsunday Passage and perhaps not think about what happened in Survive the Savage Sea, a 1992 Hollywood movie about a family cast adrift for 38 days after a pod of whales rammed their tall ship. Aye, aye Captain; the boat in that film also happens to be Providence V, a classic 62-foot gaff-rigged schooner built in North Queensland in 1992.
Day sails start from $169 per person and sunset sails cost $65 per person.
Best for: Time-strapped sailors with just two hours to conquer the Whitsunday waters.
Aquila Sunrise – the rock star cruiser
Listen up A-listers; if you want designer glam on your sailing Whitsundays holiday and think the idea of wind power is so yesterday, then this pure-bred power catamaran is the cruising boat for you.
It comes with three huge – and I mean huge – cabins with queen-sized beds and ensuites straight from the pages of a designer magazine. There’s also an oversized lounge that redefines the word salon and a galley built for large dinner parties.
Aquila Sunrise retails for $1.3 million brand new, but you can rent it through Cumberland Charter Yachts for a fraction of that cost.
Best for: Gucci-loving types who can’t be bothered waiting for wind on their multi-day boating holiday.
Sundowner Sunset Cruises
Sundowner resembles a floating party barge as it plies the waters between Airlie Beach and Turtle Bay and back on its nightly twilight cruise. The $35 per person charge includes substantial nibbles and a glass of sparkling wine.
Best for: The perfect first-day activity for travellers arriving late into Airlie Beach who want to get a lay of the land, all while watching a stunning sunset.
Summertime – a star-gazing adventure
A charming timber ketch handcrafted in 1945 and affectionately dubbed the “Beach Boat”, Summertime claims to have enough kayaks on board to survive any mutiny and allow all 16 passengers to tackle a blue-water safari. Learn to sail or enjoy kayak and snorkel adventures by day, then kick back and relax in the freshwater heated jacuzzi or lie back on deck while a trained crew takes you on a tour of the southern hemisphere night sky .
Prices for a two-day one-night adventure start from $395 per person.
Best for: Youthful adventurers looking for old-time charm and a merry sprinkle of pirate style partying.
Lady Enid – refined sailing
You won’t find a Jatz cracker and cheddar on this elegant lady! The Lady Enid is all about sailing in style and that includes serving up gourmet, chef-prepared meals, like locally-caught salmon and prawns with roast pumpkin pasta.
First launched in 1961, Lady Enid is one of the country’s swiftest sailboats, having racked up five Sydney to Hobart and 15 Brisbane to Gladstone races. The 74-foot timber boat (named after the beautiful wife of the original builder) sealed her place in Australia’s history when she crossed first in the Sydney to Brisbane yacht race in 1964.
Today, the lovely Lady welcomes 24 adults (strictly no children) for a full day luxury sail to Whitehaven Beach. Day trips cost $225 per adult.
Best for: First-class grown-ups who prefer tipping in a little extra for one the world’s fastest sailboats while sipping wine, and tea from fine China.
Reefstar Cruises – family alert!
It’s all about the family on this large wave piercer catamaran that prides itself on a stable hull with full-on comfort. Reefstar can take up to 250 passengers but thankfully, numbers are capped at 90, allowing plenty of space for prams and a fast and slow lane.
The tour makes three stops per day and is the only vessel that also operates a custom-built glass-bottom boat experience. Prices start from $170 for adults and $540 for a family of four.
Best for: Families with prams looking for space to move around plus a dry way to see the underwater world.
Feeling a little nautical? Then check out what to pack for your sailing adventure and sign on up?