THE REAL WORLD CAN WAIT: JUMP ONBOARD A LUXURY YACHT AND EMBARK ON THE ULTIMATE FAMILY ADVENTURE IN THE WHITSUNDAYS
We are all getting busier. We’re time poor and, with the invasion of social media, family time is increasingly rare and all the more priceless.
The best way to really connect with each other is to disconnect from routine.
Unfortunately, as the parent of teenagers, going away on holiday does not always mean disconnecting your children from their friends. Social media has them glued to their phones 24/7. So, when planning our most recent family holiday, I had to find an experience that would engage everyone.
A sailing adventure around the pristine waters of the Whitsundays discovering the idyllic tropical beaches, islands and reefs fit the bill. It allows the freedom to explore with the added bonus of limited phone service.
Don’t own your own private yacht? No problem, the team at Queensland Yacht Charters (QYC) are specialists in the Whitsundays region and have a fleet of luxury crafts. The beauty of chartering a boat is you are tapping into years of expert local knowledge to ensure every reasonable safety measure is followed. You’ll get tips on top spots for fishing, snorkelling, beaches and islands away from the crowds.
QYC is one of the biggest and most popular bareboat charter companies in the region. It’s part of Dream Yacht Charters, the world’s largest charter boat organisation operating in pinch-me locations including the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mediterranean.
QYC’s base is Abel Point Marina at Airlie Beach. It’s a 30-minute drive from the Whitsundays airport in Proserpine and they can arrange to collect you from your flight.
It’s best to plan to be in Airlie Beach the day prior to setting sail. This gives you time to familiarise yourself with the boat, do any shopping necessary and, if possible, start your sailing induction.
Packing for a boating holiday is fairly basic. You’re away from people, restaurants, towns and the need to dress up.
A small bag with swimmers, a few summer clothes and a camera are about all you need to take on board.
There’s the option to have the food catered or, if you want to go all out, have a hostess and chef on board to take care of your meals.
However, part of the luxury of a self-chartered holiday is going completely off grid, away from technology, television and any sort of civilisation, so I prefer going back to basics on the menu too. There are supermarkets near the marina as well as an amazing butcher (MBW on the Barbie Butchers), seafood supplier (Fishi’s) and bottle shops.
It’s important to remember that not everything you want out on the water will be readily available. The nearest location for supplies or access to medical assistance could be hours away, so plan well and you shouldn’t have any dramas. It’s a wise idea to take a small medical kit with extra plasters, disinfectant and anti-nausea tablets.
Once you’re stocked up, the next order of business is to familiarise yourself with how the boat works. The Whitsundays is the only place in the world where you can hire a charter boat with no boat licence at all.
Despite the yachts being 30, 40 or 50ft long, they are surprisingly easy to manoeuvre.
QYC spends about half a day giving you a complete overview. When you finally set sail, a member of its friendly crew will come with you for the first hour or so to ensure you are comfortable out on the water. It may sound unimaginable to be handed the keys to one of these majestic boats without a licence, but there is no way they’ll let you leave until you are fully in control and capable.
Part of the briefing is mapping out a course, taking into consideration their extensive knowledge of local conditions, winds and protected coves for mooring. You can take your pick from charters stretching from three to 10 days, depending on how much ground you want to cover.
There are 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays, the majority of which are completely uninhabited. The choice is endless. We set sail, found a deserted island and moored feeling like we’d been transported into lifestyles of the rich and famous. It is truly living.
Many of the islands have great walking trails with magnificent views, but there’s something really bonding about being on a boat with only the company of your family or friends. Teenagers who are usually glued to the television or in their rooms are suddenly free from the pressures that consume them and have time to enjoy the experience.
We spent time playing board games, swimming, exploring the reefs and corals and stand-up paddle boarding.
Five nights on a charter feeling like Christopher Columbus discovering the unknown honestly equates to five weeks on a regular holiday. Disconnecting from the world makes time stand still.