Catriona discovers Whitsunday sailing … five-star style of course!
There are so many ways to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef, and Getaway has visited islands, gone snorkelling and diving, stayed in backpacker places, flown over the top and now we have found the ultimate five-star way to visit this magnificent part of Australia.
SeaQuest sails their 20 metre Dynamique monohull sloop through the 74 islands of the Whitsunday Island group in the waters of the Coral Sea. Paounar (Greek for "greatly loved") is the epitome of luxury and was designed by French naval architect Philippe Briand. It is one of 12 of her type in the world. It was constructed to the highest international standards, has crossed the Atlantic five times, circumnavigated the world in 1995-96 and had a total refit in Greece by SeaQuest. Once it arrived in Australia, it underwent further upgrading.
Marine and electrical engineers, air-conditioning mechanics, shipwrights, upholsterers and interior decorators took four months to get Paounar to the standard the owners desired. It has four double cabins with ensuite facilities, electric flushing toilets, unlimited hot and cold fresh water and 240 volt electrical outlets. There is also room for three crew members.
Paounar is fully air-conditioned, has an excellent sound system throughout with television and VCR in each double cabin as well as in the saloon. Satellite communications are state-of-the-art and include telephone, facsimile, Internet and e-mail.
Italian gold plated fittings, leather upholstery and bedspreads from Spain, fine bone china, crystal and silverware are de rigueur, and Paounar's executive chef prepares gourmet meals in the galley while you sip a cool drink as you enjoy a fiery sunset matched only by glorious sunrises. Lunch is a two-course alfresco affair served on board or on one of the many secluded silky beaches, before wandering through a rainforest. Guests' dietary preferences are catered for, and there is an extensive Australian and imported wine list to select from.
While your surroundings are most elegant and dinner is served by candlelight, dress and ambience are comfortably casual.
The exterior has a teak deck which is perfect for catching the sun, an awning if you prefer protection, a luxury cockpit with central teak table and an aft diving platform which has a freshwater shower to wash the salt off.
If inclined, you are more than welcome to be involved in the actual sailing, but that of course is totally up to you. Snorkelling or diving the coral reefs amongst an array of colourful tropical fish is one of nature's most memorable experiences.
Your itinerary is flexible and you will visit places such as Butterfly Bay, Blue Pearl Bay, Cid Harbour, Langford Reef, Nara Inlet and Whitehaven Beach, which has been called the world's most beautiful.
You can be picked up by seaplane for a bird's eye view of the reef, or you can arrange a high-speed dive vessel to take you to the outer reef.
Pre- or post Paounar stays may be enjoyed on one of many islands.