By NATALIA HAWK
Are you the kind of person that enjoys spending ten days on holiday at a beach resort, moving from the pool to the restaurant and back to the pool again, occasionally getting a massage at the resort spa?
Would you be perfectly content doing not much at all besides working your way through a pile of books that have been collecting for a few years now?
If so – don’t sign yourself up for a sailing holiday through the Whitsundays.
If you’re the type of person that prefers adventure, exploring new places, fresh salty air, boat shoes, coral reefs, turtles that pop their heads through waves to greet you, deserted beaches and watching the sunset while drinking wine ON YOUR OWN PERSONAL YACHT… this kind of holiday might be for you.
A month ago, I was lucky enough to experience this very holiday – sailing through the almost unbelievably gorgeous area of Australia that is the Whitsundays.
Picture this: You have your own cosy double berth in your own personal yacht. You wake up in the morning, make yourself a coffee in the fully equipped kitchen, then wander up to the deck to stretch out in the sun and admire the rolling green islands and beautiful azure waters that surround you.
You start sailing when you feel like it. You sail over to a bay and anchor for the morning. After enjoying some fresh watermelon, you find your snorkel and dive straight off the back of the boat, swimming over to the reefs that run along the shoreline. When you get bored of tropical fish spotting, you paddle over to the beach and spend some time just sitting on the shore… enjoying the silence that surrounds you.
Lunch is a fresh seafood platter. You eat it with your legs dangling in the water, throwing prawn heads straight off the side of the boat. And before you know it, the sun is setting and you’re hopping in your motorised dinghy to pop over to the beach and watch a great big ball of fire sink straight into the ocean. Wine is compulsory. So is a camera.
You enjoy dinner on the deck of the yacht – steak or barramundi freshly cooked on the barbeque, salads prepared in the kitchen, apple pie cooked in the onboard oven. There are a thousand stars in the sky as you sit back with another glass of wine and listen to the iPod you’ve plugged into the speaker system.
For three days in June… all of that was my life. Give or take a couple of long strolls along beaches and hours upon hours of gazing out to the horizon. Now I understand why people sell their houses and give up everything to buy a boat and sail around the world for several years on end. Being so close to the elements is addictive. And the sense of freedom is exhilarating.
Now, please don’t kid yourself that I am some kind of professional sailor. My boat licence expired about three years ago and I barely know my port from my starboard. The best thing about the Whitsundays bareboating experience is that it’s completely accessible to everyone, whether you classify yourself as Complete Landlubber or Essentially Popeye.
You begin by flying into Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach, depending what suits. From there, proceed to Cumberland Charter Yachts, who set you up with your yacht of choice. You pick the boat, depending on how many people you’d like to come along. The smallest in their fleet is a 32 foot yacht with two private double cabins and one bathroom – ideal for two couples who don’t mind sharing. Or you can go all the way out and get the biggest in the fleet, a 47 foot catamaran with four private double cabins – all with ensuites and air conditioning. Alternatively, you can pick anything in between – there are 23 vessels in the fleet in total. We had a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom yacht named ‘Olivetta’.