Brucini started seriously travelling after attempting to move to Queenstown, New Zealand, in 1996.Inspired by drunkenly meeting a world of travelers on a Kiwi Experience bus, he changed his plans and roamed the world for a year. ...Find out more!
If you are planning on doing a crewed Whitsunday Islands sailing trip from Airlie Beach on the East Coast of Australia for a few days, make sure you give yourself the best chance of having the best experience for your money. Make sure you choose to travel with an accredited sailing operator.
For many, sailing in the Whitsundays is the highlight of their travels in Australia. Most backpackers book on a yacht that will take them on a multi-night cruise around the 84 Islands of the Whitsunday group of Islands. Depending on the sailing option you choose, you will see highlights like Whitehaven Beach, whales (in season), the Great barrier Reef, go diving and swim and sunbathe on multi-million dollar yachts. You don’t need to know how to sail, everything is taken care of for you, although you can get involved in the sailing as much as you want to.
Like anywhere, however, there are operators who cut corners and offer inferior services, usually at cheaper prices. For a backpacker on a budget that’s a juicy carrot, but arguably a short-sighted decision. The difference between a good experience and an OK experience could well depend upon the service, safety, environmental awareness, training and quality of yacht you travel with.
Boats without a Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association accreditation (WCBIA) are usually the cheapest and poorest options. To maximise your chance to have the best time choose your boat wisely. Ask about:
The most notable example of something going wrong for a non-WCBIA yacht was in April 2008. During a particularly heavy storm a yacht broke its mooring in the middle of the night as it tried to ride out a storm. Engines failed and the yacht was pushed onto rocks and all the passengers had to evacuated by helicopter in treacherous conditions. No one died, although there were injuries, and arguably it could have happened to anyone, however, the after care from the operator of the yacht left much to be desired. The operator did not look after the passengers ongoing welfare who had lost their personal belongings nor did they appear concerned about the ongoing reputation of the sailing destination.
My advice is be careful and look for Whitsundays Charter Boat Association members.
All images are courtesy of Island Dive in the Whitsundays: www.islanddive.com