The tropical air envelopes you before you alight at Hamilton Island Airport, its tendrils wafting into the aircraft. Azure waters, cloudless skies and heady blooms beckon while the final vestiges of tension melt as bags are whisked to the marina. Barefoot, you fling off the trappings of land; the burdens dictated by deadlines and deals. With senses awakened, sea air in her lungs and islands shimmering on the horizon, Hillary Buckman finds herself free to explore.
by Ocean Charters.
Even a world-weary visitor is prone to rose-coloured prose upon touching down in the Whitsundays, a beautiful, World Heritage-listed area that needs to be seen to be believed.
Fortunate to be among the guests experiencing the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays on board the latest addition to Australia’s luxury charter fleet – the 40-metre, six-suite M/Y SILENTWORLD – I was in awe. Free to partake in a variety of activities from diving, hiking and daily excursions or simply relaxing on the top deck, read a book and soak up the ever-changing views from the Jacuzzi, I was able to experience what it is truly like to holiday on a charter yacht in the Whitsundays – and the level of service offered on board SILENTWORLD.
The beauty of chartering a yacht in this region is the freedom it gives you to wander as the whim takes you, to wake in a different location each morning, and to explore many of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays.
As the captain and crew shared their unrivalled local knowledge, we cruised through a diverse range of islands, each with its own unique history and character. One was graced by ancient rock drawings from local indigenous people, while another boasted sophisticated dining establishments that delighted the gourmands among us.
We began our exploration at Hamilton Island, where we visited its wildlife park. Despite many years living in Australia, I cuddled a koala for the first time, and was able to get up close to other iconic Australian wildlife that is usually only appreciated from afar or behind glass.
A tour of the award-winning Qualia resort was followed by a lavish lunch overlooking SILENTWORLD at anchor, before a tranquil afternoon spent touring the golf course at Dent Island. As we savoured our first sunset on board, we enjoyed cocktails and shed our city stress.
Over the following days we cruised the outer reef, visited the world-class Abell Point marina at Airlie Beach, took
a chopper ride over the exquisite Heart Reef, and tried the full complement of motorised watercraft before diving from the yacht’s aft deck and snorkelling the dazzling coral gardens at the Stepping Stone dive spot. We also visited the incredible One&Only Hayman Island, relaxing in its day spa for a few hours and touring the facilities before enjoying yet another stunning sunset.
“One guest put it succinctly when she declared a couple of idyllic days on SILENTWORLD the equivalent of a month at an exclusive retreat”.
A HEALTHY APPETITE
Not only were the daily activities an incredible adventure but the cuisine – prepared fresh daily to suit the dietary requirements and requests of each guest – was a feature in itself. A fusion of European, Asian and Aussie delights was prepared from the freshest local ingredients by our chef Jodie Murray.
Jodie’s expertise has been honed over her 25 years travelling the world, the past 15 on yachts, and she has developed a specialty for working with family members who have allergies and food intolerances. Everything was healthy and hearty, wholefood and delectable, and I took many of her recipes home with me.
Breakfast and lunch were a casual affair served buffet style with a good selection of dishes and plenty of fresh juices and smoothies. Dinner was more formal, with at least three courses. On the final evening we enjoyed a nine-course degustation menu comprising local kangaroo, crocodile, emu and many species of fish. Divine!
I have always believed that the food you experience on charter can be the difference between a success and a disaster, so being guaranteed a high standard of cuisine will keep everyone happy. (I will also add that if hamburger and fries are more to your liking, or every guest on board has different preferences, nothing is too much hassle.)
Prior to boarding, Ocean Alliance (the MYBA central agent for SILENTWORLD, which manages the yacht’s charters on behalf of the owners), sent us its charter preference questionnaire. This is a thorough, thoughtfully composed list designed to help the crew prepare for your arrival. Details include medical conditions, dietary requirements, requests, any special occasion you might be celebrating during your charter, experiences you would like to enjoy and, most importantly, what time you would like happy hour!
Leading the SILENTWORLD team of six professional crew, Captain Michael has invaluable knowledge of cruising Australia and the South Pacific, and is a qualified dive instructor. The experienced, international crew were friendly and attentive, and catered to our every need, including the evening imperative of cocktails as the sun dimmed and stars blazed impossibly bright above. They were able to pre-empt what we wanted before we knew ourselves, and suddenly appeared as required.
SilentWorld is a flawless example of craftsmanship and elegance from world-class motor yacht manufacturer Oassive, a company that specialises in research and commercial fishing vessels. The combination of good engineering and comfort makes the boat very well designed for maintenance, seaworthiness and range, plus all the facilities of a six-star resort.
Built in 2006 in Spain (Astilleros), she underwent an extensive refit in the US before her owners brought her to Sydney via Dockwise Yacht Transport. SILENTWORLD is one of the only yachts
in Australia featuring six cabins for a maximum of 12 guests on board. Accommodation includes master cabin on the main deck, and a VIP located on the bridge deck. Her expansive sundeck is complete with two sun-shaded lounges, barbecue and Jacuzzi. SILENTWORLD ’s large volume and steel hull make her perfectly suited to Pacific cruising.
She sports several new features, including an open top deck for entertaining and spreading out. This gives guests the choice of an undercover or fully open-air cruising experience as the weather or your preference decrees. Guests can dine and recline on teak lounges on the sun deck, which boasts a retractable beach top, or unwind in the Jacuzzi, enjoying music from the state-of-the art audio system, tted for your iPod favourites.
Reflecting on the many exquisite memories spent cruising – the sparkling coral cays, the decadent dining and pleasurable activities – it was the bespoke experiences crafted by the expert crew that made all the difference; those special touches that you wouldn’t anticipate.
One guest put it succinctly when she declared a couple of idyllic days on SILENTWORLD the equivalent of a month at an exclusive retreat: “No cares, no concerns, Wi-Fi if you want it, complete silence if you don’t. Just us and nature’s tranquility.”
A perfect indulgence.