What happens when a film crew from the popular Channel 7 travel show Queensland Weekender calls into Airlie Beach?
We take them bareboating around the Whitsundays of course!
Bareboating is not naked sailing...
Our day began at Airlie Beach where the Queensland Weekender crew boarded a 46ft sailing catamaran – one of around 140 boats for hire from our five-company Whitsunday fleet.
With #GoBareboating briefer Tim Pugh showing the ropes, we slipped the mooring lines and headed out into the ‘Whitsunday blue’.
We hadn’t gone far before Channel 7 lifestyle presenter and host Mel Symons asked the question on everyone’s lips.
“So Tim, bareboating’s not really naked sailing is it?” she said.
“No Mel, it’s not, but when you’re out here on your own you can do that if you like,” came Tim’s cheeky reply.
Having broken the ice, we laughed about the concept of nude boating and talked about what bareboating really is.
“Firstly I thought it meant boating in the nude and then I thought, ‘surely that’s not it; they haven’t asked me whether I’d be comfortable to do that! There’s got to be more to it’,” Mel said.
Learning the ropes
‘More to it’ there certainly is, as Mel was about to find out.
Once clear of the moorings, Tim gave Mel her first lessons in how to hoist the catamaran’s sails.
Far from being a difficult procedure it was all completed from conveniently positioned cleats, with the help of some muscle power from push-button electric winches.
Having learned the ropes Mel was able to take stock of her surroundings, relaxing on the catamaran’s comfortable foredeck and trampoline.
In an easy two hours we had reached our destination for the day – beautiful Langford Island in the northern part of the Whitsunday group.
Langford Island is a continental island, with tree clad slopes at one end and a serpentine sand spit at the other, all surrounded by aquamarine water and fringing coral reef.
Needless to say, Mel was blown away.
“When we got to Langford Island I said, ‘ok, bye bye, you can just leave me here’ – I was very impressed – that whole area is sensational,” she said.
After lesson number two from Tim, this time on picking up a mooring buoy, it was time to head ashore and stretch our legs.
Plenty to see and do
As Mel was rapidly learning, bareboating can be as relaxing or energetic as you choose.
Stay aboard and watch the world go by or head ashore and get set to explore.
Our Queensland Weekender party chose to embark on Langford Island’s new walking track – an easy 20-minute stroll past orchids and Whitsunday Bottle Trees to a lookout platform with spectacular views over the neighbouring islands, waterways and reef.
For Mel this was a highlight of the day so far.
“I loved that walk to the top with the beautiful view; I’m a walker and I love to explore, and I always like to get a good perspective on where I am, so learning about what was around me in terms of geography, the islands and their history was special,” she said.
With hours still to spare there was time to also walk on the beach and don wetsuits for a spot of snorkelling with turtles on the reef.
Producer Duane Strauss described this as his highlight of the day.
“What we do at Queensland Weekender is basically try and show off experiences – it’s not just about the boat, it’s the other incidental activities you can do around it,” he said.
“Being in the Whitsundays, like you guys have shown us, you can do a hill climb and you can go snorkelling on your own reef.
“Today I can say I climbed a hill, I snorkelled a reef and I swam with a turtle.
“And how blue is that water! You look out the back of the boat here and you think ‘this is an hour’s flight from Brisbane’.
“You can come up here and have all this freedom.”
With appetites whetted from the sea air, it was time to introduce the Queensland Weekender crew to lunch – #Gobareboating style.
Our guests were wowed with platters of fresh seafood, tropical fruits and a range of accompaniments prepared by Whitsunday Provisioning.
With a fully equipped galley and barbeque aboard, cooking on a bareboat is a breeze, but if you’d rather have someone else do the work, pre-prepared platters are a great option.
“The boats are fully equipped and come with all these comfortable facilities,” #GoBareboating representative Christina Unterwurzacher explained.
“You’re travelling in a four-bedroom floating apartment with four en suite bathrooms and five showers – it’s actually very luxurious!”
Duane had to agree.
“This isn’t a boat, it’s a mansion on water and I can totally see the attraction of chartering it,” he said.
Cameraman Jed Smith was the only one of the visiting crew to have experienced bareboating in the Whitsundays before.
“Growing up we holidayed here a few times doing bareboat charters as a family – it would have been one of my favourite family holidays we had,” he said.
Having also lived in the region briefly 20 years ago and worked as a sales rep at the local paper ‘The Whitsunday Times’, Jed had since returned to the area with his own children and in the course of his career as a cameraman.
“Each time I come I’m always struck by the ease and accessibility,” he said.
“Today we moored up on a little sandy cay with turtles swimming around us and iconic islands like Hayman and Hook surrounding us.
“It’s just beautiful, and when the sun comes out and that Whitsunday blue hits, from a cameraman’s point of view you just point, shoot and you’re capturing paradise.”
Jed’s highlight of the day was taking a turn at the wheel on the trip home to port.
“Every day you pinch yourself in this job but when you get to do that it’s even better,” he said.
“I also loved spending time on the net and looking along the hulls at the water and that sparkle on the blue.
“If you were going to create a photoshopped ocean this is what it would look like.”
Anyone can do it
On the return journey Mel also got to reflect – about how she would now define bareboating.
“Now I would say bareboating gives you the ability to get out on the water and experience what people who are real boaties and have grown up in boating families get to do all the time,” she said.
“If you don’t have that experience previously you can think it’s not accessible but it's actually a wonderful opportunity for people to live a slightly different life and take a slightly different holiday.
"I certainly didn’t realise that everything was so accessible and you could actually achieve this dream holiday so easily.
“I feel like I personally would need company from people who know a little bit more about boating than I do, but I don’t think it would take too much, and honestly, it’s a lot simpler than I thought it would be.”
Duane had to agree.
“I’d totally do this,” he said.
“I’d have to bring some friends who knew how to ‘boat’ because I don’t normally do this sort of thing but I’d love to come back for sure.”
For Tim, helping people who aren’t that experienced try out sailing and seeing them enjoy it is one of the highlights of his job.
“We get so many different people chartering with a range of different skill levels but generally the people who are less experienced listen really well to the tuition we give them – the