With thanks to:
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

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Easy like Whitsunday

2: Meet the boat

We flew from Sydney into Hamilton Island, or ‘Hamo’ as those in the know refer to it. Hamilton Island is surely one of the 10 weirdest places in the world — a private island, it is essentially one giant resort. Everyone else on the incoming flights was destined for one of the many package holiday centres, and were merrily met by uniformed reps and ferried off in a convoy of complimentary golf carts. With precisely no clue as to where we were going, we eventually tracked down the island’s sole taxi and vaguely asked to be taken to the marina, where we spotted our Jeanneau parked on the end of a finger pontoon.

We had chartered with ‘Whitsunday Rent a Yacht’, who claim to be the biggest bareboat charter operators in the Whitsundays. Their base is actually on the mainland, at Shute Harbour — a fast ferry ride away. However, we’d flown 23 hours to get to Australia, so we wanted to get on with our sailing as soon as possible, and Rent a Yacht offer a delivery to Hamilton as an option.

First up was the briefing, as our delivery skipper showed us around ‘Amelie’. I’ve experienced briefings varying from the lackadaisical to the excessively scaremongering, and this was the best so far. Informative and thorough, the Rent a Yacht staff quickly sussed out the fact that we at least knew the basics and moved on to sharing some local knowledge, including answering important questions like whether the sharks or jellyfish were going to kill us first?

Our home for the week was a Jeanneau 37, one of Rent a Yacht’s luxury range. With three cabins, one heads, and a large saloon, she would have been fine for six, but was equally manageable for just myself and the Admiral. The yacht was wellequipped with all the basics, although not quite as immaculate as others I’ve chartered from big European operators. Although there are no electronic plotters onboard, there were a good collection of charts (AUS 252) and the essential pilotage guide 100 Magic Miles by D Colfelt, with additional annotations — mostly no-go areas — marked in by Rent a Yacht.

One of the key elements of the briefing was the VHF — or more specifically the need to use it. Every charter yacht has to meet twice-daily radio schedules, at 0800 and 1600hrs, and report in with where they are and where they are going — and that they are safely anchored. If you miss too many in a row, they send someone out to check you haven’t sunk. Although initially it seems like a bit of a bind, our jetlag had us keeping ideal hours for cruising — fast asleep early and awake again by about 0600. The radio chats also proved a good source of weather forecasts, and local knowledge such as which anchorages were best in the prevailing conditions.

In the event we didn’t leave Hamilton Island until gone 1600hrs on our first day, but the delivery skipper was happy enough with our experience levels to let us go, and we just popped around the corner to the sheltered Cid Harbour. Fortunately his confidence wasn’t misplaced, and we anchored safely for the night — more by luck than judgement perhaps, as I was distracted middrop by a sea-eagle diving just a few feet away, then realised my co-skipper’s attention had been diverted by a pair of turtles sharing our spot.

With thanks to:
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

Previous page:1 Introduction

Sailing the Whitsundays proved to be a whole lot of fun

Next page:3 In the tropics

This close to the tropics the temperature rarely dips below the high 70s

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