Have you ever hired your own sailing boat for a few days? The sensation is awesome. It’s pure freedom, pure nature, and pure beauty.
However, finding the necessary information – and an affordable vessel – isn’t always easy. I’ve been through that phase for sailing in Australia and decided to share my findings and experience. If you’ve got tips of your own, please share them in the comments at the end!
1. Level of experience needed for hiring a sailing boat in Australia
Although no license is needed for sailing in Australia, it is obviously recommended to know a bit what you’re doing when you hire a sailing boat.
There are many yacht clubs on the east coast where you can learn more about sailing. I used to join races on Sundays as a crew member to get acquainted with the sailing language and reflexes. Along with some reading, it’s a good start to understand how things work. Then, go on a small adventure hiring a very small boat on a lake or a river for a few hours: the basic principles are the same than for a big one on the open sea.
Some chartered companies will ask for proofs of experience (we had to list our two skippers’ experiences for hiring the boat in the Whitsundays), others will just say that it’s recommended (our experience for hiring a catamaran near Fraser Island). It depends on the agency you rent from and on the difficulties in the area.
You may charter a boat with a skipper included if you have the budget.
Otherwise, your best option could be to join a tour. Viator* has a selection of sailing tours along the Australian coast, click here to see it.
2. The best destinations where you can charter a sailing boat in Australia
“Best” is always biased. But these are the destinations that came back over and over again when I was looking for great places to charter a sailing boat in Australia.
3. Sydney Harbour
4. Moreton Bay
For the Hobart region (toward the D’Entrecasteaux Channel): February/March is the best season as the weather is unpredictable during summer.
For the other regions, I only found skippered charter boats or tours – which considerably increase the budget.
Other options for bareboats: Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River, Melbourne (Port Phillip Bay), the Gold Coast’s Broadwater, Lake Macquarie, Lady Musgrave.
Keep in mind that bareboats are restricted to smooth waters and you cannot go offshore, so you’ll need to choose a destination close to the mainland.
3. How to find a charter boat in Australia
Google Search is always a good start. If you’re looking to sail a popular destination like the Whitsundays or Sydney Harbour, you’ll get relevant results straight away with the keywords “bareboat + destination”.
Fraser Escapes also has a boat available to sail all the way to Lady Musgrave from Hervey Bay. We haven’t done that expedition (yet!).
For Townsville / Magnetic Island, we found out the only local company that was offering charter services closed.
I was lucky to know people who owned a sailing boat when I was in Sydney, so I didn’t hire one down there. You can visit Sailcorp website for more information about the bareboat options they offer from Lavender Bay.
AnyBoat are in contact with many boat owners who rent their vessels. You can send an inquiry to [email protected] for more information. I have not used their service yet but their team has always been helpful by email.
4. Budget to hire a sailing boat in Australia
Renting your own boat is not cheap, but it’s not an untouchable dream. It mostly depends on the size of the vessel and its age. Some boats are very luxurious and expensive, but some others won’t cost more than a room with ocean view in a resort. I did some comparisons in my articles about sailing the Whitsundays and sailing Fraser Island.
When you look at prices, don’t forget you’ll have to add the petrol on top of that.
But if you have to hire the skipper with the boat, that’s another adventure (that I can’t afford to try!).
Have you chartered a boat in Australia? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where can you sail a bareboat charter in Australia?
This list is non-exhaustive. It just includes the destinations I’ve identified during my research. If you’re aware of another destination where you can hire a sailing boat in Australia, please let me know. I’d love to add it to that list – and even test it myself!
*These are affiliate links: I will receive a commission if you make a booking using this link. This will help me maintain this website.