Sailing Cairns, Australia
Many miles away, the spectacular World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef floods the sea with colour. In the opposite direction is a mountainous coastline swathed in tropical rainforest. Two points off the starboard bow is a reef-fringed island with a protected anchorage. Towing behind is a mackerel fishing line, glinting in the sunlight and ready for a fish to pounce and become dinner.
The sun is bright; the water is clear and warm.
The islands and beaches resemble paradise.
There are few places in the world where this combination of factors come together to make a sailing environment so special.
Three yacht clubs operate in Cairns, all offering day sailing and crewing positions during races and social sailing events. If you are interested in participating in a race simply turn up to one of the clubs, buy a beer, and start talking to the yachties hanging around the bar. They will be happy to give you a position on board their yacht, no matter what your experience level is.
The three yacht clubs in Cairns are:
Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron
Established for cruising yachts, the squadron boasts the best facilities in Cairns for visitors to the area. It has an extensive work-yard where all repairs and painting can be carried out, plus a chandlery for any items you may need. For members or visiting yachts, toilets, showers, ironing facilities etc are available. There's also a restaurant and bar that is always occupied by old salts willing to share their stories of the sea. The Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron also offers a small marina and pile moorings in a protected arm of the Cairns Inlet.
Cairns Yacht Club
The Cairns Yacht Club is located close to the centre of Cairns city, and is a very popular place for cruising and racing sailors to congregate. It has a small beach that is ideal to launch a dinghy from, and an extensive bar and restaurant in the clubhouse. This club has no mooring facilities, however it's proximity to the entrance of Cairns Harbour makes it a popular place for visiting yachts anchoring nearby.
Half Moon Bay Yacht Club
This is an upmarket yacht club located at Yorkeys Knob. The clubhouse is the biggest of all three clubs in Cairns, and it has a restaurant that is very popular with the locals every day of the week. There is also a large marina at this club, but haul-out facilities are not available. To reach Cairns from this club takes about 12 minutes by car.
There are many charter yacht operators in Cairns, however due to the proximity of the reef, no bareboat operators run out of Cairns. The closest bareboat charters can be found in Cardwell, south of Cairns. These charters focus on the area around Hinchinbrook Island - the largest national park island in the world.
Port Douglas, however, is home to maxi yachts from around the globe. There is a luxury protected marina in Port Douglas, just a one day sail north from Cairns. Two charter companies offer their stunning yachts for charter, with crew.