ALL HANDS ON DECK

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays Afloat -

CRUISES where you sit back, take in the scenery and en­joy the food and wine are fine for some trav­ellers. But many of us like to get more in­volved in the sail­ing. If you’re in the sec­ond cat­e­gory, con­sider th­ese trips where vol­un­teer­ing with the sails is al­ways wel­come.

Sun­sail of­fers cruises around Queens­land’s Whit­sun­days (the com­pany also has a base in Thai­land) where you can take a crewed trip on a 15m cata­ma­ran. Book one of four dou­ble cab­ins or char­ter the ves­sel as a house party. Meals are pre­pared by the crew of two and you can get in­volved in the sail­ing, or do noth­ing. From $1400 a per­son for a three-night cruise out of Hamil­ton Is­land; wind­surfers, kayaks and snorkelling equip­ment in­cluded. More: 1800 803 988; www.sun­sail.com.au.

Sail­ing on Maxi Raga­muf­fin is an ex­pe­ri­ence not quickly forgotten. This three-time Syd­ney to Ho­bart win­ner, the fastest maxi in the world in 1981, runs day trips out of Shute Har­bour in the Whit­sun­days. We work up a sweat rais­ing the sails, then dan­gle our feet over the edge as the 24m maxi takes on a 20-de­gree tilt. Pas­sen­gers can even steer if con­di­tions are good. Raga­muf­fin sails ei­ther to Blue Pearl Bay for snorkelling or to pris­tine White­haven Beach. From $116 a per­son. More: 1800 454 777; www.max­i­ac­tion.com.au.

On­the 22m gaff-rigged schooner Wind­jam­mer, built in Bris­bane in 1993, I learn the mys­ter­ies of main­sails, fore­sails, stay­sails and the fly­ing jib. With all 166sq mof sail on dis­play, it’s a mag­nif­i­cent sight. A max­i­mum of nine pas­sen­gers (with three crew) are en­cour­aged to take the wheel, raise the sails or even clam­ber up the rig­ging, 23m above the deck. Wind­jam­mer runs a choice of two three-night cruises from Air­lie Beach and Shute Har­bour. From $885 a per­son. More: (07) 4946 1777; www.bare­footcruises.com.au.

The three Star Clip­pers sail­ing ships, which ply the Mediter­ranean be­tween June and Oc­to­ber, of­fer a hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence that can in­clude crack­ing a bot­tle of cham­pagne high up in the crow’s nest. Pas­sen­gers can steer the ship and help raise the sails, though the lat­ter can also be done at the push of a but­ton. More: 1300 362 599; www.star­clip­pers.com. Barry Oliver

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