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Old 01-04-2011, 11:22   #1
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Charter Boats and Autopilots

We are planning to charter (bareboat) a monohull sailboat in the Whitsundays and were well down the road on the project when I noticed that the boat descriptions on our charter company's website made no mention of autopilots. Upon inquiry, I was told that none of their charter boats had autopilots and it appears that this is the result of some rule that prohibits chartering boats with autopilots.

We have only chartered in the San Juans where, I expect, it would not be possible to charter a boat without an autopilot.

Has anyone heard of such a rule in Australia (or elsewhere?)
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Old 01-04-2011, 15:51   #2
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Re: Charter boats and autopilots

Sounds more like it's one of their rules after someone was below deck, running on autopilot and the boat went on the rocks or something similar;b So to placate the insurance company, they removed them.

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Old 01-04-2011, 15:58   #3
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Re: Charter boats and autopilots

That seems to be the case. I am waiting for Queensland to wake up so I can confirm it by phone but Sunsail insists that their boats all have autopilots. Restricting autopilots to prevent charterers from setting the autopilot in crowded waters and going below sounds like a dumb idea to me. Anyone who would do that will probably find a way to crash the boat even without an autopilot. I use it to free up hands for other tasks and so that I can concentrate on other safety issues, such as navigation and lookout so I think an autopilot is safety enhancing. Oh well......
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Old 01-04-2011, 17:22   #4
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Re: Charter boats and autopilots

Having sailed that area on several occasions, I dont really see the need for one. Sure it would be nice to let go of the helm to go and grab another beer or take a pee, without someone having to get up from thier relaxed position. But the longest sail you will have (based on most passage planning there) will be four-five hours.

Maybe its just a case of personal preference, but I enjoy actually sailing the boat and not letting technology do it for me. I dont see it as a major safety consideration. Although, I get your point about its ability to give you time to study charts. I would think most boats up there would have plotters these days. Plus you can also get the Nav App for most new phones if you want to stand at the helm and navigate.

On a side note. You will find vicutalling much cheaper at Airlie Beach than at Hammo. The Hammo supermarket has "island prices" which is one of the very few reasons not to use sunsail. There is an IGA supermarket on the mainland that used to do deliveries to Hammo. You may be able to arrange a delivery from them if you do go with sunsail. Beer prices on Hammo are strangely not too bad.

Either way, enjoy our islands mate. Oh and dont drink all our beer!! hehe
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Old 01-04-2011, 17:41   #5
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Re: Charter boats and autopilots

Great information and informative view. Thanks. I agree that we are coming to sail and that's what we want to do. I am pretty sure we can contrive to grab beers without the autopilot but it is often easier to switch the thing on and pull a sheet or two than to try to "explain" to my dearly beloved spouse what I would very much like her to do. It's also just plain neat to sit up on the sternrail seats on a Catalina whilst under sail and watch the world go by. I agree it's not a safety issue either way. It's just another option that can be used or abused.

The boat does have a plotter and you're not supposed to sail at night or in the soup so nav should be fairly straightforward. BTW, I assume the chart data are accurate but, if you know, could you confirm or deny?

Point taken about the provisioning. I will inquire.
In any case, really looking forward to the trip. It will be our first where we can get the boat on anchor and jump off the stern for a nice swim.
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Old 01-04-2011, 19:20   #6
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Well charted rocks...

It's my understanding that almost all rocks and other hazards in the Whitsundays are well charted/documented.

They still get run into though...

However distances are relatively short and an autopilot could be a distraction.

A bit of a sense of what its like can be found in the Notices to Mariners.
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:41   #7
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Re: Charter boats and autopilots

Nav is pretty easy. Most of it you will do without even looking at the compass . As landmarks are all very straght forward. ( big island -little island- oh that must be dent passage- kind of thing.)

Due to the high tourist population the charts are all great. There will also be a book on board called the 100 magic miles.(they all have them). Its a very good companion to read the night before. I would even recomment buying your own first and studying it at home. It will build excitement at the very least.

Aside from bumping into a sleeping humpback, about the biggest random danger will be overfalls. Strong eddies that occur during flood and ebb tides. Theses are also well documented and are easy to see on the water at most times. Having said that, I havent heard of a boat that has been lost up there due to these phenomena, but its possibly happened. They are obviously a pain to racers who havent experienced them before.

Just about every other rock,wreck, and outhouse should be on your charts. If not, they will be in the 100 miles book.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:07   #8
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Re: Charter Boats and Autopilots

One more thing I should mention. Although a day late. Please be warey when going ashore at night. The dropbears in that region have been known to be quite agressive
http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__...ear_attack.jpg
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:16   #9
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Re: Charter Boats and Autopilots

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozskipper View Post
One more thing I should mention. Although a day late. Please be warey when going ashore at night. The dropbears in that region have been known to be quite agressive
http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__...ear_attack.jpg
Dropbears
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Nice one!!
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Old 06-04-2011, 13:02   #10
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Re: Charter boats and autopilots

Thanks again to everyone for their useful info. One of the postings brought up something that has been puzzling me for some time so here goes: There is a lot of stuff about tidal rips (which I gather are referred to locally as overfalls.) There is a lot about them in the 100 Magic Miles book and are specifically mentioned as a challenge above. They exist in the San Juans as well for much the same reasons (I suspect) and are easily visible because the water is all messed up with little whirlpooly spots and foam etc. They were described in solemn tones as hazards when I was learning there as well. You can give them a miss but mostly we have just sailed or motored through them on boats from 37' to 42'. Never had a problem with either directional control or progress. Do they get bad enough (outside of adventure novels) that you could really be in trouble (assuming your engine didn't pick that moment to quit)?
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