If it tops the list for a television presenter who’s travelled the world, bareboating in the Whitsundays has got to be up there as one of the best holidays you could ever hope to take.
Channel 7’s Queensland Weekender host Chris Parsons thinks so, and that’s what he told Australia’s top travel writers at the beginning of this month.
Chris joined us at the Australian Society of Travel Writers Christmas luncheons in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to spread the word about bareboating around the Whitsundays in his own inimitable way.
His presentations were so charismatic we couldn’t let them be confined to just these special events, so we hope you enjoy this recollection of bareboating ‘celebrity-style’.
No licence required
Like many people who charter a bareboat in the Whitsundays, Chris didn’t class himself as a ‘boatie’ before he arrived.
In fact, he didn’t even know what bareboating was.
“Do we get nude on the boat? I’m in!” he joked.
Now, the way Chris describes bareboating to others who might be starting from scratch goes like this: “It’s when you are the skipper and sail guide of your own vessel, whether that be a power boat or a yacht or a catamaran, and you take your family and friends into a beautiful destination”.
The other thing Chris couldn’t quite get his head around was our answer to the question: “are you actually going to give me a 40 foot catamaran so I can sail with these jokers without a sail guide?”
“They said ‘yes!’” he still tells people incredulously to this day.
But as Chris soon realised: “all you need is common sense and basic boat handling skills”.
“I’d been on plenty of boats, especially as a TV presenter and although I’d never actually driven one, I kind of knew how it all worked and that was enough,” he explains.
“Plus the instruction the #GoBareboating crew give you is second to none.
“Having said that though, if you do need a little bit of prior experience with sailing, just to get your head around it and take down the anxiety, there are so many mediums they can put you in touch with so you can do exactly that.”
Are we really doing this?
Once Chris’s big questions were knocked off, he and his then wife-to-be packed their bags, grabbed five of their closest friends, caught a direct flight to Whitsunday Coast Airport and made their way via an airport transfer to their #GoBareboating catamaran, where they met up with their sail guide for an initial briefing.
“We were giddy with excitement,” Chris recalls.
One of the things Chris would soon discover was the new adventure every day of this holiday seemed to bring.
Most holidays have their high points but for Chris and his friends there was always another top spot or experience just around the corner on their bareboat.
“I was always intrigued by bareboating – it just seemed like such a great dose of adventure and lifestyle,” he says.
“You can choose your own adventure based on what you want to do, whether that’s Stand-Up-Paddle-boarding, snorkelling or swimming.
“So we swam and we snorkelled and we just couldn’t believe it – we looked at each other and we said, ‘are we doing this?’
“This is bareboating.
“And at night, you’d be sitting on the bow of the boat having a chat; there’s no light or light pollution so the stars feel like you could just grab one and pop it in your pocket; they feel like they’re right there.”
Food sets the mood
Food is one of the elements you remember vividly about a holiday.
It can make or break a getaway.
As Chris will attest, food always tastes better on a bareboat.
Maybe it’s the way the sea air freshens your appetite, or maybe it’s the delicious array of fresh produce available in the Whitsundays.
For Chris, it was a bit of both.
“One of my questions was: ‘how am I going to get my food and my drink ( read booze) onto my boat?'” he says.
“Well, we just hooked up with a catering crew ‘Whitsunday Provisioning’ and we had seafood and all sorts of food and drinks delivered to our boat.
“We had this platter of prawns and crabs and lobster and we were sitting there on the back deck with that beautiful pinkish bluish hue in the sky and we just looked at each other thinking ‘Is this really happening?’
“This is great.”
World’s best views
Here at #GoBareboating, we’ve told you many times that Whitehaven Beach is one of the world’s best.
You’ve probably seen the photos of those swirling silica sands at Hill Inlet.
But nothing really prepares you for seeing it yourself.
“You’re taking your tender to a relatively deserted island,” Chris explains.
“You hike up to the top of Hill Inlet and you look out on the incredible vista that is Whitehaven Beach.
“I’ve seen a lot of views but that view is second-to-none.”
Friends and families
Chris’s experiences with bareboating to date have been friendly affairs comprising holidays with his wife and a few of their best mates.
As Chris has discovered, bareboating is uniquely suited to groups of friends and is a wonderful way to make memories you’ll never forget.
“It’s just the best. You forget about life. Your phone doesn’t work, you forget about the office,” he says.
“We’d take the tender out and it’d be like an Enid Blyton novel – a boy’s own adventure.”
Chris already knows however, that bareboating is also an experience for families to treasure and it’s something he is looking forward to introducing his own next generation to.
“You see kids diving off the bow of the boat – the little boy’s got no iPad in his hand – he hasn’t played Fortnite in a fortnight, which is unreal,” he says.
“And then you see kids driving around with Dad in the tender, and they’re pointing out fish because the water is so crystal clear, and they’re the happiest kids you’ve seen in your life.
“For us, we know there’s so many more memories to experience when we go bareboating.
“This is a trip I want to do every year and introduce my kids to.”
What are you waiting for?
We know he’s biased, but Chris’s enthusiasm for bareboating is just downright infectious.
“Bareboating in the Whitsundays is to my mind the best holiday on the planet,” he says.
“It’s made me want to learn how to sail.
“I want to get better and better at this trip and introduce other people to it, because the fact we have an area like this and we can sail around it with our closest friends and family is unbelievable.
“We’re the luckiest humans on the planet.”
You too can have a holiday like Chris.
Just go to www.gobareboating.com.