Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster (Offshore, Ocean and Navigation, master instructor, cruising instructor), <Master 24 NC, Marine Engineer Driver, Ship Captain’s licence, Bareboat Briefer’s ticket, PADI rescue dive certificate, Marine Radio and Senior First Aid certificates.
South African-born Simon Summerton, who has sailed across oceans and visited the world’s top sailing regions, rates the Whitsunday islands among the best.
Simon is a former professional artist who ran his own art gallery at Margate, near Durban for a decade. He started sailing after leaving school. By the time he was 19, he had multiple qualifications and was working for Leopard catamaran manufacturer, Robertson and Caine, based in Cape Town.
“It was my job, as part of a crew, to deliver catamarans across the Atlantic to owners in the Caribbean,” he says.
In 2011, Simon, his wife, and young family migrated to Australia.
“We left Cape Town on our 50ft catamaran, sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal via the Pacific Islands, arriving in Brisbane a year later. Our children were six, four and 10 months old at the time – it was quite an adventure.”
Simon initially worked for yacht charter operator Sunsail at the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay when a position came up as a sailing instructor at Hamilton Island. He worked there for more than two years, left to gain experience in operating ferries, and joined WRAY in early 2016.
Simon is responsible for managing and maintaining WRAY vessels, organising contractors, ensuring compliance and insurance requirements, liaising with vessel owners and charter guests – and there’s still time to take the family out on the water to explore more of the Whitsundays.
“For a family with young children, it’s hard to beat a catamaran because they are so stable and flat and have loads of space for children to run around.”
“By world standards, the Whitsunday region is quite similar to the Caribbean – although here, the islands are untouched and very well protected. As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, there’s plenty on offer.”
Having your boat surrounded by whales, including calves, is pretty special. There’s an abundance of wildlife everywhere you look.
Take the time to read the 'Whitsundays' Bible' 100 Magic Miles on board your vessel and seek out one of the many recommended secluded spots.
Operations Manager, Simon Summerton.