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Onboard - Tourism Operator's Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef

Bareboat Charters

Bareboat Charters

Bareboats are vessels, usually yachts, that are chartered to visitors with no crew on board. In the Marine Park, the bareboat fleet is focussed in the Whitsundays, with smaller fleets based around Hinchinbrook, the Keppel Islands and Magnetic Island.

Bareboats are either motorised or sail boats and are defined as being at least 6 metres in length.

What do I need to know?

When you operate a bareboat charter operation in the Marine Park, you need to know about

  • Marine Parks permits, how you apply, how much they cost and your responsibilities as a permittee. Generally, a bareboat operation permit allows you to hire a vessel (at least 6 metres in length) without crew, everyday in the Marine Park.
  • Management arrangements for your area of operation, especially zoning requirements.
  • Special management arrangements if you operate in the Hinchinbrook Planning Area, including group and vessel size limits, sensitive locations and anchoring and mooring arrangements. For the Hinchinbrook Area, you must hire your bareboats within intensive use locations or outside the Planning Area.
  • Special management arrangements if you operate in the Whitsunday Planning Area, including group and vessel size limits, significant bird sites and anchoring and mooring arrangements. For the Whitsundays, you must hire your bareboats within setting 1 areas or outside the Planning Area. Please also check your permit for some specific Whitsunday conditions such as displaying a bareboat identifier and having adequate garbage and sewage facilities.
  • In the Whitsundays, to ensure bareboat charterers are properly briefed, bareboat operations are required to have key staff trained and registered with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (refer to Bareboat Briefing in the Whitsundays for further details).
  • The Environmental Management Charge, how much your clients must pay, who is exempt from paying and your responsibilities to collect, record and remit the charge.

Please also be aware that Maritime Safety Queensland has rules on where bareboats can be used.

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How can I operate to a high standard?

Unlike most tourism operations, in a bareboat operation you and your staff are not with your clients when they visit the Marine Park. It is therefore very important that your clients are well briefed before they begin their adventure and that you provide high quality back up for them.

In the Whitsundays, the bareboat industry recognises the importance of high standards and has adopted the Whitsunday Bareboat Industry Standards. The standards relating to staff training, insurance, garbage and vessel identification are reflected in permit conditions. Please make sure you understand these requirements and that you adopt these standards when operating in the Marine Park.

How can I help protect the Marine Park?

Many of your clients may be unaware that they are being given the special experience of boating in a World Heritage Marine Park. Emphasising this and the need for special care, particularly in anchoring and waste management, is important.

In all your operational practices in the Marine Park, you can help by following the responsible reef practices. Please also brief your clients on these practices and keep a copy on board each of your vessels.

© Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority