How it works

What is Selfsailing / Bareboating?

Selfsailing or bareboating is where you hire your very own boat, for 5 nights to a week or longer. You can skipper the vessel yourself and set off on the expedition of a lifetime!

Selfsail charters start with a comprehensive briefing and trip planning followed by a vessel handling test. You have support via radio and mobile phones while you are away and you will be required to contact the base up to twice daily to make sure you are safe!

Selfsailing is available for anybody from a beginner to advanced, and is a great adventure holiday option!

What experience do I need?

Experience requirements can be from as low as a couple of days boating experience, to as high as qualifications. We take into account various factors including (but not limited to) if you can safely handle the vessel you are looking to charter, the difficulty of the sailing zone you'd like to sail in, the standard of the vessel, and the requirements of the operator.

If you don't have a lot of experience, don't be discouraged, call us on 1800 911 244 and we can make some suggestions!

Sail training can help you get up to speed before you arrive on your holiday, and Sailguides can be hired for an additional charge to sharpen up rusty skills.

NB: Experience requirements differ between sailing zone, particular Operator requirements, and the type of vessel you choose. Check the experience requirements for the location that you are looking to charter, or call us on 1800 911 244 to help you find the vessel that suits your experience and needs.

What's the process of booking a vessel?

  1. Search for the vessel that you like, and one that suits you, your crew and budget. Enquire online and we'll call you back ASAP or Call us on 1800 911 244.
  2. Vessel matching We'll make sure that you have chosen the best vessel for you, and ensure we match you to the latest specials. We'll also confirm the vessel is available, and send you a quote.
  3. Reserve the Vessel We can hold a vessel for you for up to 7 days with no obligation.
  4. Booking Confirmation A small deposit and completion of the charter paperwork will confirm your booking - usually between $500 and $750. We'll email for the balance 60 days prior to departure. Payment plans are available.
  5. Boarding your vessel! Charters start at 8am with a compulsory briefing on the vessel (See 'Briefing' below), equipment, your experience, the Whitsundays, navigation, and lots more. The briefing takes up-to 3 hrs and may include a test cruise.
  6. Radio Schedule Referred to as 'Scheds', you are required to radio in morning and afternoon, where you'll be given a weather update and confirm comfortable anchorages for the evening or to confirm you are safely anchored.
  7. Charter Support You have charter support where you can radio the base anytime with questions during business hours, after hours during emergencies.
  8. Vessel Return Arriving home safely, most charters are due back between 10am and 12pm (just like checking out of a hotel) and a staff member will assist and drive the vessel back into the marina, refuel it for you and dock it.

How does food and drinks work?

Selfsailing allows you to provision your vessel for yourself - just as you would on in your own self contained apartment. You can refer to the base that you are departing on for tips on how you can provision - which ranges from visiting the local supermarket, ordering online, fax ordering or full provisioning services (your vessel will be fully stocked!) Each vessel page has information on what basics are included. You can order packages via this link.

What about insurance, taxes and fees


Insurance ranges from basic vessel insurance, to third party and full travel insurance - some are optional and some are compulsory. Make sure these are included in your quote.

Damage Waiver Fee

This is a non refundable fee that is sometimes optional and sometimes compulsory. It effectively reduces the insurance excess from a few thousand to a few hundred dollars - similar to a rental car.

Bareboat Charterers Negligence Insurance

This level of insurance covers 3rd party claims where the named vessel is involved - please refer to your charter agreement and the Operator of your vessel for details.

Full Travel Insurance

This is a requirement that charterers have suitable travel insurance to cover for cancellation for any reason - and policies are quote cheap at around $70. A policy will also cover you for any other losses in relation to your holiday! (e.g. accommodation, flights)

Taxes and Fees

Different Zones have fees and taxes for national park entrance - these are rarely very large, but make sure these are included in your quote when you are comparing the best deal! We list these fees in all quotes against each vessel - so you can compare.

What exactly happens during the briefing?

A key part of planning for your holiday, the briefing process provides essential information to make your holiday the most fulfilling and relaxing that it can be. Briefings take 2.5-3 hours.

1. The Area Brief (approx 1 hour)

  • A Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority conservation video (20 mins)
  • Navigation Briefing
  • Weather Brief
  • Scheduling requirement ('scheds')

2. The Vessel Brief (approx 45 minutes – 1 hour)

  • Sail rigging
  • Navigation systems
  • Engine/generator systems
  • Anchoring systems
  • Power and lighting systems
  • Hot water systems
  • Toilet and shower systems
  • Safety systems (radio, lights, fire and first aid)
  • Operation of the tender/dinghy
  • Inventory check and condition report

3. Boat Handling Test (approx 45 mins)

  • Anchoring/Mooring
  • Manoeuvring
  • Sail Handling

What does the first hour at sea look like?

Once briefing has concluded, your skipper will then pilot your vessel out of the harbour (no need to worry about finding the exit or manoeuvring your vessel in the tight spaces of the marina).

Command will then be handed over to you to get familiar with, and demonstrate your ability to handle the vessel. The more confident you and your crew are with handling the vessel, and the quicker you can get the briefing skipper confident, the sooner you can get away.

You will be asked to complete some drills including – starting/stopping the engines, figure of 8, anchor up and down, and a sailtest if you are taking a sailboat (pull and reef the mainsail, set and furl the headsail, perform a tack, and gybe).

If all of that sounds easy, then you are well on your way, but if you feel that this might require some more time there are options. There are many sail training schools and motorboat handling schools that you can teach you the skills before your holiday, or we can recommend an operator that provides more training with a sailguide for the first half day, or as long as you need it. Don’t forget, even if you are an experienced sailor, we can provide fully crewed private charters to take the responsibility away!