Sailing the Whitsunday Islands - Richard Pon's Experience | Modern Sailing

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands - Richard Pon's Experience

Richard Pon has been a Dual Site member of Modern Sailing School & Club and Inspire Sailing for one year. A former member of OCSC and a very experienced sailor, Richard is also a volunteer for the Blue Water Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings the joy of sailing to the Bay Area's underserved youths. He also charters frequently at Modern Sailing, Inspire Sailing, and all over the world. He has sailed the California Coast, Chesapeake Bay, Canada, Mexico, Italy, the Caribbean, and now the Whitsunday Islands of Australia. Learn about Richard's experience sailing and exploring this area.

At the end of this article, find out how you can contact Richard if you have any questions about sailing the Whitsundays.

Best Time of Year to Sail the Whitsunday Islands

"We chartered in mid-October this year and in October 2017. We had planned to go in 2020, but had to cancel [due to pandemic travel restrictions]. We have already booked 2023 for late October. Weather is nice this time of year and is before the jellyfish become more plentiful, as the water gets warmer later in the season."

Best Aspects of Sailing the Whitsundays

"Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the islands and the natural scenery is spectacular. Islands of the Whitsunday Group are close and makes for an easy sail to the various islands.

"Some favorite spots are Chalkie’s Beach on Haslewood Island, Cairn Beach, Sawmill Beach, Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, Macona Inlet and Stonehaven Bay on Hook Island, Sandy Bay on South Molle Island. Airlie Beach has great restaurants and bars."

Challenges and Lessons Learned

"Getting to Airlie Beach is quite a trip from San Francisco!

"There's only one place for water and supplies, and that is the harbor at Hamilton Island."

Richard's Advice for Other Modern Sailors

  • Get the book “100 Magic Miles of the Great Barrier Reef / The Whitsunday Islands” by David Colfelt.
  • Be aware of currents when sailing through the narrow passages.
  • Dream Yacht Charter at the Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach is well organized and helpful.

Modern Sailing Members: Do you have any questions about sailing the Whitsundays for Richard? He's happy to help! You can connect with him via the members-only Facebook Crew List or email and we'll forward it to him to put you in touch.

Have you sailed or chartered outside of San Francisco Bay? If you are willing to share your experiences with other Modern Sailing members, let us know!

Does the idea of a sailing vacation around the Whitsundays or another exciting destination appeal to you, but you need some guidance to get started? First, know that most international charter companies require sailors to possess an ASA 104, Basic Coastal Cruising certification and the International Proficiency Certificate. If you have questions about how to prepare for international chartering or any other kind of sailing adventure, give our friendly office team a call at (415) 331-8250 or send us an email. We're happy to help you plot your course towards making your sailing dream come true!

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  • Alisa Driscoll, Dual Site Member

    Here are some snaps of Our Saturday, August 20, 2022 Modern Sailing Expedition with Captain Robert Bivin, who was outstanding. Please convey photos and thanks to him. He is an outstanding individual, leader and sailing instructor. His knowledge and experience made us all feel safe and our Farallones Day Trip educational and just amazing. 

    Alisa Driscoll
  • John Clark

    Every aspect of Modern Sailing - training, syllabus, course materials, quality of the boats, quality of the instructors, and the very friendly and helpful staff - exceeded my expectations. Modern Sailing has a first class sailing program in an environment with challenging winds and currents. I look forward to coming back to charter a boat and certainly plan to continue my sailing training.

  • John Boynton

    The class was terrific. I know you must get many compliments about your sailing instructors...But I must tell you that Robert is outstanding. Having taught SCUBA, I really appreciate the way he is so sensitive to all on board, dealing with each so well, knowing quickly their strengths and weaknesses making each feel special and cared for.

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