Over the years we have found that we get asked many of the same questions time and time again. Particularly with the most common-place types of tours and charters such as Deep Sea Fishing, Whale Watching and short cruises. Many questions relate to how and when to make payments, or what happens with regards to refunds etc. To assist our potential customers, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions ( FAQ’s ) here for your reference. Of course, if you have a more specific question, or one not found in this list,  please contact us and we will be more than happy to assist!

Alcohol and drinks related Questions

We charge a BYO fee (sometimes referred to as a corkage fee) for a number of reasons.

  • As we are fully licenced so we need to have RSA qualified staff aboard to still control the alcohol consumption, even if the trip is done on a BYO basis (All your drinks may be required to be kept behind the bar and served by our staff if we feel that is warranted). The BYO fee go partly towards this cost.
  • The BYO fee also covers part of the costs of cleaning up and the disposal of empty bottles and boxes.
  • And finally, as we are as mentioned, we are fully licenced. The BYO fee goes a small way toward ensuring we can indeed cover our annual liquor licence fees, even if not actually selling the drinks directly.

We get asked this a lot. And all we can answer for is our situation with regards to the prices of drinks aboard, which is very much NO.

We pride ourselves on ensuring that you feel comfortable in the prices and range of drinks on offer.

We only carry well known, popular brands of drinks and as an example of prices Beers start from as low as $5.00 each! We even do cocktails from $10.00 each!

So before you make a decision on which way to proceed, ask us to send you the up to date drinks price list. We know you will be very happy and comfortable to proceed once you see it!

This is a common misconception. And you need to take all factors into account to determine this for each case.

The reality is that in almost every case people that proceed on a BYO basis purchase WAY too much for the trip. And as with all parties certain drinks are far less popular on the day than others, which can lead to other drinks running out. And then you have the left over drinks that need to be taken with you, distributed or stored etc.

Of course someone has to do the running around buying the drinks as well (fuel and time), plus the preparation of unpacking them into eskis, getting ice, bringing the drinks to and onto the boat, (and back).

I know the above sounds like it a sales pitch for using our bar, but its actually based on experience over many years and seeing the frustration that (usually by the organiser) goes with it all. Most trips do not have enough ice to actually get/keep the drinks properly cold. Glasses are often forgotten (we sell throw away glasses for such cases but it adds to the cost). The number of opened bottles of wine that are wasted is mind blowing on some trips. The list goes on.

If the organiser has paid for drinks then it’s often a hassle to get money from some people in their party, adding to their own cost, and finally, you can’t have cocktails on a BYO basis…. (Yes, ok that’s a bit of a sales pitch! But what a party without cocktails?! lol)

On top of everything you still have the BYO/corkage fee as well. So when you add up all the actual the costs to go BYO, it makes buying your drinks at the bar a very smooth, easy, simple, cost-effective and fun way to go. And isn’t that what the main focus of your cruise should be – FUN!

Bookings and Reservations

Running late is by far the most awkward situation for both you our customer and ourselves. It puts both parties in a very difficult position.

All our tours are based on a combination of viability and availability. As we take smaller passenger numbers than many other tours (especially whale watching and cruises) we are immediately more affected by cancellations regardless of the reasons. Hence our minimum notice periods for a cancelation. Experience has taught us that these periods are the absolute minimum amount of time it is possible to still replace your booking with another guest. Missing the departure or running late (very late) negates ALL chances of us replacing you aboard with others. As such we have no other recourse than to have the booking stand as if you had indeed made it aboard.

We are often asked if we cannot simply put you onto a later tour, but this actually doubles the cost to us as not only have we then missed out on the funds for the original tour you had booked (potentially turning that trip to a position of it not being viable) but we then take away the option of having other paying guests on the tour you can make.

Obviously we always aim to give ALL our guests the best possible experience and value. If we can we will try to assist with a discounted replacement tour, if we have spaces on a suitable alternative.

All in all it is clearly best to give yourself extra time if you do have some distance to travel to avoid running late. We can assist with accommodation options if you feel that the chance of missing the trip due to a lengthy travel is a possibility.

The payment of a deposit, or indeed the full fare, constitutes a confirmed booking and the full acceptance of all related terms and conditions. Once paid, any cancellation, in the case of individuals,including Gift Certificate Bookings, must be advised, in writing, a minimum of 3 full days (72 hours) ahead of your scheduled tour to be eligible for a full refund. If advising within the 72 hours you will be charged either the full fare or the 20% deposit, depending on whether or not the individuals place has been able to be filled by the departure time. There are no refunds for cancellations within 24 hours of your tour, or if you decide not to show up, regardless of the reason(s) given for such.

In the case of groups and for any 18 hour (overnight) fishing charter bookings, a cancellation must be advised a minimum of 7 days (168 hours) ahead of your scheduled tour to be eligible for a full refund. If advising within the 7 days you will be charged either the full fare or the 20% deposit, depending on whether or not the groups place has been able to be filled by the departure time. There are no refunds for cancellations within 72 hours of your tour in the case of groups, or if one or more decide not to show up, regardless of the reason(s) given for such.

Gift-vouchers are considered to have been redeemed in full should the applicable notice not be provided.

Same day bookings are always non-refundable. If cash payment on day of service is the chosen method of payment a credit card number must be provided to secure such a booking. Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to charge the full fee to the credit card supplied as a pre-authorisation to ensure the information provided is valid and correct. Such amount will only be deducted from the card in the case of non-payment, regardless of the reasons for such.

Credit card fees (aka Credit card surcharge) are a bank fee, not a fee by Sunshine Coast Afloat. As such this component is not refunded under any circumstance. Credit Card fees are calculated at 1.5% of the amount paid.

Most of Sunshine Coast Afloat’s activities operate in an outdoor / offshore marine environment. As such trips may change or be cancelled due to weather conditions.Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to cancel services due to inclement weather (generally defined as heavy precipitation creating visibility issues, extreme wind and extreme swell conditions, determined as dangerous by Sunshine Coast Afloat). Such determination is not subject to passenger input. In the event this occurs rescheduling to an alternative date will be organised for a convenient time.

Refunds are not applicable for any activity that has been conducted but which has not produced results that were possibly hoped for or anticipated by customers. For example, no fish caught on a fishing charter or no whales sighted on a whale watching tour. Sunshine Coast Afloat, may at it’s sole discretion and choice, offer some form of compensation by way of a discount on a future trip, or in some cases a 2nd trip free of charge. Refunds will not be offered under any circumstance if the offer made is deemed unsuitable by the person to whom the offer is being made.

All bookings for rides which are considered able to proceed (including all types of gift certificates) are non-refundable.

For more details information on our refund and cancellation policy please see our Terms & Conditions.

Yes, you do need to make a booking or reservation.

As we are limited on how many people we can take out at any one time, bookings are required to guarantee a spot on an activity.

Minimum passengers numbers are required for all activities, and bookings allow us to know exactly how many passengers are aboard.

This in turn helps us determine the number of crew needed to ensure that our groups remain manageable and enjoyable.

It also allows us to notify you of changes to the tour due to weather or anything else that could affect the tours.

Life changes, we understand that. And sometimes your plans have to change.

The only things we ask is that you advise us in time (see cancelation information here) and in writing.

ALL CANCELLATIONS MUST BE INFORMED IN WRITING to us as we can not rely on our memories (or yours) to ensure this happens. This writing is ideally via email, but we will accept SMS, Messenger and Facebook DM versions as well. By all means call us to discuss it, and if we can at the time we will action it immediately. You will then receive a cancelation notice from our booking system or, if you are not just cancelling but swapping your booking to another date, a rebooking notice. These are emailed to you.

If you have booked via one of our booking agents (eg Adrenaline, Red Balloon etc) you Must cancel via them (they are also the people who in these cases arrange you refund, not us). We can in most cases arrange change of dates for your booking if that is what you are needing to do.

Finally, if you do need a refund for the trip please understand that accounts are processed once a week and it can take a few additional days for the refund to show in your account.

All activities are subject to 2 things.

Suitable Weather Conditions & Sufficient Passenger Numbers.

WEATHER:

Obviously nobody wants to head out on the ocean, rivers or canals if the weather conditions are not suitable to do so. We would all love to be able to predict the weather well ahead of time, but reality dictates that we have to wait until 24 hours before departure to be anywhere near confident of the forecasts (and even than on the odd occasion the BOM will still get it wrong!). Rain is generally not a reason for cancellation. There are 2 key factors we need to consider. Wind and swell. Depending on how these 2 factors are impacting together will determine if we are able to head out or not on the day. Of course the type of activity you have booked makes a massive difference to this. Some activities are actually more fun in poor conditions!

GUEST / PASSENGER NUMBERS:

As anyone can imagine, we do need a certain number of passengers to make it viable for us to head out on a given day. This will vary from activity to activity. Exact numbers can be found in our Terms & Conditions for each activity. We do at times head out with slightly less, but this all hinges on the conditions, trip type and other cost factors in play at the time.

Weekends are seldom lacking in passenger numbers. Unfortunately mid week trips, especially outside school holidays are much less regular. At this point in time the Sunshine Coast is still very much a weekend and holiday period destination. The volume of people drops off dramatically outside of those periods, which impacts the mid week charters. Please keep this in mind when looking at departure dates. As a rule we also find that the months of February (Due to weather) through to May are by far the quietest. Of course the Easter Holidays which fall in this period are normally very busy for the duration of the school holidays. June through to January is the key period for all activities offered by Sunshine Coast Afloat.

In the event of your activity being cancelled prior to departure, you can either choose to go on an alternative future date, exchange the amount for a gift voucher, or request the amount paid to be refunded should either of the other 2 options not be suitable/possible.

There can of course also be other unforeseen impacts. Regardless of any impact we will always do our utmost to get our guests out on the water if at all possible, provided it is indeed safe and comfortable to do so.

GIFT VOUCHER CONSIDERATIONS:

As with all gift voucher bookings, it is at the sole discretion of the company to determine an alternative date if the gift voucher is not valid after the date of the booked trip. Such date will always be within 30 days of the expiry of the voucher.

Sunshine Coast Afloat has a very strict procedure that is followed with every booking, regardless of how is is generated – Be it by agent, online, phone or in person.

1. We create a customer record for each actual booking (not for enquiries). This will have your contact details including email address, as well as method of payment etc noted on it.

2. This system subsequently ensures that you will always receive a confirmation email, which will give you the full details of the trip you have booked including departure time, date, directions, amounts paid / due and other relevant information relating to your charter.

3. We will always contact you the evening (usually between 4PM and 6PM) prior to the trip to advise that the charter is indeed proceeding, or that the trip needs to be rescheduled. This is why we always request a contact phone number (ideally a mobile) to ensure we can indeed contact you. This contact is normally via an SMS to the mobile phone number you have provided, and it will give you not only the confirmation of the trip but also directions and times again. Should the tour be cancelled, we will phone you personally to enable us to work with you to find the best solution in such cases.

Covid-19 related

The tourism industry was one of the very first industries to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The vast majority of Tourism operators in Australia (almost ALL of them on the Sunshine Coast in fact) are small, usually family owned and operated businesses, that need as much assistance as possible to ensure we are able to get through this unprecedented period of time. The inevitable delays in getting financial support for businesses, which mean ongoing costs during a time of zero revenue, places each and every small business in a financial situation never encountered before.

It will force us to use funds provided to us by our customers for future bookings at a time that is not in line with that booking (for us for the first time ever). This action is not taken lightly but forced upon us by a situation none of us have any control over.

As such refunds become a cost that few if any small business can cope with in addition to the other operational costs still in effect (for the moment at the time of writing this at least).

Here at Sunshine Coast Afloat, we’re extremely confident that through these and other measures we will be able to get through these challenging times. And your help all of this is invaluable! Your help in this should also have benefit both parties, not just Sunshine Coast Afloat. We believe that the best way to ensure there is mutual benefits are to firstly ensure you that your booking remains completely valid. In addition we can then proceed in one of 2 ways at this point, whichever you feel is best suited to your situation;

  1. You need to nothing. We have already placed your booking “On Hold” within our system, and once we are able to legally operate normally again, you can simply choose another suitable date to proceed. All funds paid will be applied to that booking. In addition, for fully paid bookings only, any price difference at the time of the rebooking will be removed, thus ensuring you are not financially disadvantaged by using your booking at a later (and possibly more expensive) time. No time limits to this apply.
  2. You can request a voucher to the value of your funds paid for the booking originally made. In this case your booking will be cancelled from our system. The voucher WILL NOT HAVE AN EXPIRY DATE as we fully realise that it will vary from person to person and situation to situation as to when a rebooking will be able to be made. This voucher will be emailed to you (ensuring the no-contact rule so desperately required at this time) and will be entered into our booking system as a normal voucher awaiting use.

Sunshine Coast Afloat, it’s owners and it’s small team appreciate your support, and for choosing us in the first place! Please feel assured that our focus has not shifted and remains firmly on ensuring you as our customer are provided with the best experience possible on your outing with us! Please stay safe during this horrible time in our county’s (and the world’s) history, and we cannot think of anything more enjoyable than to be able to have you aboard with us soon!

Fishing Charter Specific Questions

No, we are not able to always offer the Spanner Crabbing as part of the tour. Certain restrictions apply.

For example, each year the Spanner Crabbing has a closure period. Generally this closure starts on the early November, and finishes mid to late December. The exact dates vary from year to year. Nobody can do any Spanner Crabbing during that time.

We also do not offer spanner crabbing on our 9 hour, 11 hour, 12 hour, 18 hour overnight and Sunset charters. Any length of charter is actually very long for Spanner traps to be down, but any longer than 5 hours and its simply not worthwhile.

Hauling spanner traps after sunset takes too long and impacts too much on the overall charter experience to make it a worthwhile component as well.

Finally, there are times when a group books the entire boat to themselves for a fishing charter. In such cases they can make the decision to not do any Spanner Crabbing if they so wish.

For more information on the Spanner Crabbing closure, and Spanner Crabbing in general, visit Fisheries Queensland on: https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/our-organisation/news-and-updates/fisheries/news/changes-to-spanner-crab-closures

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT COVID-19 PANDEMIC RULES AND REGULATIONS WE ARE NOT ABLE TO SAFELY CONDUCT SPANNER CRABBING ON ANY FISHING CHARTER UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. 

There are many factors to consider when booking a fishing charter to get the best results

All in all, this is a rather complex question and will vary depending on the geographical location, time of year and even moon phase (all of which are often near impossible to combine to an actual workable date and time for most people), An hour before and after both high tide and low tide are generally considered primary fishing periods. Furthermore, you will usually also find great offshore fishing shortly after the sunrise and the sunset. Moon cycles, Seasonality, the type of vessel you are on, the number of people on the vessel, the type of bait used, Burley or no burley, Time of day (or night) and more. They all play a role. Some to a greater degree than others.

Falling tide: A falling tide occurs when a tide changes from high tide to low tide and is the best time of the day to fish. Generally the best time to take advantage of a falling tide for fishing is two hours before actual low tide.

Rising tide: A rising tide occurs when the tide is changing from low to high tide. Although it is generally considered slightly less favorable to fish in a rising tide as compared to fishing in a falling tide, thanks to the movement of the water and the feeding activity of the game fish fishing is almost always still substantially better than at many other times. As with a falling tide, try to time your rising tide fishing about two hours before full high tide to make the most of fishing in a rising tide.

Moon cycles: The moon cycle is far from an exact science and opinions vary from fisherman to fisherman. Generally speaking the evening of the full moon (or New Moon) is not usually considered the best. The better light means it’s easier for smaller fish to spot larger predatory fish, and as such it is generally believed that action is less. (Although there are some that feel the reduction in smaller fish means you have a better chance at hooking that bigger fish!). Generally speaking the best time is believed to be the 3 days before and after and full and New Moon. No doubt this has more to do with the stronger tides associated with this that it has with the moon light itself. Our overnight charters tend to be based on this type of moon cycle as well.

Season: The type of fish you are hoping to target also depends on the time of year you are heading out. Make sure you know what the prevalent fish are during the time of year you are looking at heading out deep sea fishing. For instance, Winter on the Sunshine Coast is known for Snapper fishing. Summer is the time you have a good shot at the pelagic species. But there are also a large number of year round reef fish caught throughout the year.

Time of Day: Sunrise and sunset and the 2 obvious key times. They are absolutely influenced by the times and other factors, but generally speaking Sunrise and sunset fishing generally will yield the most frequent good results. When we talk of Sunrise or sunset we are talking about the  hour before and the hour after the actual sunrise and sunset. A 2 hour window that happens twice a day. Generally speaking, the most difficult time of day tends to be hen the sun is at it’s highest, Where as night fishing (generally between 9PM and 3AM) can often also produce excellent results.

Regardless of all the factors you take into account, the combination of skill and luck will be the key factors on the day. It is not unusual to see less experienced fishermen struggling while only a couple of meters away someone with far more experience is having the time of their fishing life. The old adage of the more I try the luckier I get hold true, especially in fishing!

There are 2 different types of free rod and reels we offer our guests. Each suited to a particular activity.

Deep Sea Fishing: We offer a free rod and reel combo to the organiser of a group consisting of 7 or more people. Social clubs, Bucks parties, Birthday parties etc. are the sort of groups this is ideal for. The manner in which the rod and reel is used on the day is at the sole discretion of the organiser. Be it for the main person the celebration is for, or perhaps offered as a prize or incentive on the day. The rod and reel are presented to the organiser at the conclusion of the charter. This particular combo is subject to change from time to time depending on stock availability from suppliers at the time of ordering.

Kayak Fishing: Any person booking a guided kayak fishing tour with us is provided with a brand new kayak fishing specific rod and reel combo at the start of the tour. This is the tackle they will use during the tour. They are then able to take that same rod and reel with them at the end of the tour.

Please note that due to costs we cannot offer either of these to people making a booking via a 3rd party such as a booking agent. This is only possible if booking direct with Sunshine Coast Afloat.

Absolutely not. Our highly skilled and experienced crew are more than happy and able to give you all the help and hints you need to achieve an excellent fishing technique. If needed the crew might even hand you a rod that they have hooked a big fish on themselves! First timers are made to feel just as welcome as regulars. We do recommend shorter trips for beginners as it can be a lot more taxing than it seems if you have not experienced fishing before!

Unfortunately we cannot make any such guarantee. Although it is not common, for anyone, to not catch any fish at all, it can happen.

We will do everything we possibly can to give you the best possible chance to catch fish, but in the end fishing is not only an often fickle endeavour, but also relies much on the person doing the fishing itself.

It is our job to take you out to, and to put you “over the fish”. We do so in comfort, safety and a fun filled enjoyable atmosphere.

From there the remainder is up to you to hook the fish and ensure you land it. Our crew will often hook fish and hand over the rod to the less fortunate people onboard. Even then it is not totally uncommon for the fish to escape before being hauled aboard. There is definitely a considerable level of skill and experience in fishing that is directly apportion-able to fishing success.

Please understand, you are booking a charter to head out to fishing locations and use the vessel and fishing tackle to ATTEMPT to catch fish.

You are NOT booking a charter to be supplied with fish (or crabs for that matter).

As such it should be clear NO REFUNDS of any form are applicable should you not be successful in catching any fish.

There is definitely a large amount of skill involved in fishing. We recommend you simply try again as practice makes perfect.

Yes and No. As long as the fish is of legal size and within the normal “bag limits”, both as set by government regulations, you can choose to either keep or share your fish. We will tag each fish accordingly. Of course if you prefer you can release your fish.

All fish that are kept are “Gutted & gilled” by our crew and placed on ice. We also bag your fish at the end of the day for you to take home to cook and eat.

In general this question relates more to people that have been on charters that enforce the sharing of the catch. We do not operate in that manner. We understand that for those less experienced (or lucky), walking away with a good fish that someone else has caught might be a good thing. We are pretty sure that the person(s) that caught the fish that not as happy about it however. Life is an adventure, and comes with the highs and lows, and rewards and losses that keep in interesting. Fishing is no different. So we don’t force sharing of any catch. Like in life, it’s your decision to make.

No, sorry but we are simply both not allowed to – whilst out at sea – nor will we have the time to do so once back at the dock.

There are special occasions and conditions where filleting fish will be considered but safety and regulations will be adhered to.

Any fish caught on our trolling or other speciality rigs are considered “Shared Fish” and these will be cut up or filleted by the crew when back at the dock to enable sharing of those between all interested passengers.

When you book a Fish n Crab Deep Sea Charter with Sunshine Coast Afloat, we supply all bait, quality fishing rods and reels, all tackle, Soft drink, Water, Snacks, and full assistance from our expert crew.

A fresh lunch is also included on all 9 and 11 & 12 hour charters.

Evening charters, and some winter charters, have a BBQ lunch or dinner included, and overnight charters have a hot Breakfast as well.

We are now fully licensed so alcohol can be purchased on board from our bar facility.

For our fishing equipment we work closely with Okuma, Shimano and Penn in Particular. We also work with Finn Nor. These are the brands of reels we carry. Okuma is almost exclusively the only overhead reel we use on board. Extremely high end high quality reels with up to 50lb drag! For spin reels we use a range of Penn, Finn Nor and Shimano. All brands have high end reels with 25 to 30lbs drag designed purely for deep sea fishing conditions.

By all means! If you would like to bring your own fishing tackle, that is fine with us.

As much as we prefer you to use our fishing gear you can bring your own. However, if the crew find that the difference in your gear to ours is creating issues for other passengers on the day, they will ask you to stop using your gear and switch to ours to ensure everyone has an enjoyable day.

Speciality gear such as snapper winches etc are permitted but use will again be at the sole discretion of the skipper on the day.

After all, in the end its all about having EVERYONE aboard enjoying themselves.

Although everyone tends to have different ideas of what they are looking for on a fishing charter, the idea is to catch fish. The longer the duration of the trip, the better the chance of doing exactly that. This is due to a number of factors:

1. The longer you are out on the water the more chance you have of catching fish. (Not rocket science). But more importantly, fish tend to feed mainly just once a day. There are many theories about how to determine when that is (fish don’t go by the time of day that’s for sure). Some state its to do with the tides, other the wind, some the intensity of light, and others the temperature, swell, moon, wind, etc etc. You get the idea. All we can say for certain is that the more of the day you cover out there the higher the likelihood is that you will be fishing when the fish start biting.

2. Here on the Sunshine Coast, the closer-in waters tend to have small areas of protection for fish. That means that small fish can easily take shelter, but larger fish are left more exposed to predators. As such you tend to catch smaller fish in close compared to further out where the reefs become more substantial. To catch a larger fish in close you are actually trying to catch the predatory fish. This is why we state the 5 hour trips are not a “true” deep sea fish experience.

3. Once you get past 7 Nautical Miles and up to 15  Nautical Miles, the reef structures become larger and are able to offer protection to much larger (and more) fish. This tends to be where our 7 hour charters head out to. Unfortunately this is also where the vast majority of the private fishing boats are able to get to for their fishing. As such although you have a lot more fish and better size fish, you also have a massive amount of competition to deal with. After any period of pleasant weather these areas can also quickly become depleted of fish because of the massive number of boats fishing in these locations.

4. 25 Nautical Miles and more is where we hope to be able to head to on the 9 Hour – and longer – trips. Obviously everything is heavily weather dependant and sometimes as you head out, conditions dictate that you may need to stay in closer or head in another direction altogether. Weather forecasts are just that, forecasts, not actuals and BOM often misses the mark on accuracy. These more distant reefs tend to be too far for most of the smaller recreational fleet, and the reef structures are approximately 4 times the size of the closer in areas. Most of this area is known as the Barwon Banks reef system, which sits very close to the edge of the Australian continental shelf. Very large fish will come from the much deeper waters past that edge to feed at the banks, and the reef system itself supports a massive variety of fish. There are other lesser known fishing spots here as well that we will visit from time to time as well. The size of the area, allows us to ensure we do not frequent the same area again and again, ensuring fish stocks are able to replenish themselves easily.

5. It simply takes time to find a good spot, regardless of the number of locations we have marked, that will fish well on a given day. Shorter trips often just do not allow for enough time to find this.

All of this aside, you should always look to book a charter within your own capabilities (and budget). Heading out for 18 hours with highly experienced fishermen might not be as much fun as you would like it to be once they have hauled in more and bigger fish that you. Experience really does make a massive difference in your success rate!

General and Weather related Questions

Weather can impact a fishing charter in many ways. We can, and often do, head out in the rain and wind on some of our activities. After all, we’re going on adventures! However, if the weather makes for unsafe or very uncomfortable conditions, for any reason, the trip will be changed or postponed.

Rain is seldom an issue, but wind often creates swell, which will combine to unsuitable and unsafe conditions at sea.

You will be notified the day before your trip if there are changes due to weather. As much as we would like to give more notice, marine weather is fickle at best, and forecasts change on a daily (sometime hourly) basis. You can always keep an eye on the forecasts weather on the Sunshine Coast Seabreeze weather page.

Weather has other impacts as well. It can change the location we go fishing for instance. For instance, we may have hoped to fish the Barwon Banks System on a particular day (The most popular reef system we use on 9hr and longer trips), but as we head out find that the swell, wind, rain or a combination of any of those, makes that impossible. The skipper will make a call at the time on alternative locations, or in the worst case to turn around and cancel the trip altogether. And of course sometimes the conditions change or worsen unexpectedly. This may cause a trip to be shortened for safety reasons. These situations are rare, but can and do happen when the BOM gets the forecasts wrong.

Fishing different locations than those originally planned – brought on by weather conditions or other reasons – is NOT a reason for a refund. If the trip turns around without any fishing happening you will be given the choice of an alternative trip or a refund. If the trip is shortened by 20% or more, we will be happy to discuss a suitable discount on another trip to offset this unfortunate occurrence. Unfortunately, as our costs do not change regardless of the shortening of the trip in this sort of situation, we cannot offer refunds or discounts for trips shortened less than 20% though conditions or situations that are out of our control.

If you have tried to email us and not heard back, that is not normal.

We try to respond to each and every email we get, but as you may be aware, spam filters sometimes put the wrong emails into the spam folder and we may miss it. Also our system rejects any email that it finds vulgar or inappropriate language in.

So if you have not heard back please try to contact us again.

Gift Vouchers

As with all companies offering gift vouchers, there are a number of areas that differ for a direct purchase.

1. REFUNDS

At no time are refunds for gift vouchers available. This is done for multiple reasons, but the main issue being that a gift vouchers has in almost every case been purchased by a different party/person than the person to whom the voucher has been provided. As such a refund would be to a different person than who had actually paid for the voucher. Experience has also indicated that refund requests are in most cases received due to the person not making use of the voucher within the lifespan of the gift voucher. Again this is not a valid reason for a refund.

2. AVAILABILITY OF ACTIVITIES

At times vouchers provided to a person may be for charters that are not available at the time of the voucher recipient wishing to make use of the voucher. This happens most commonly for less common or popular activities. To avoid this issue we highly recommend booking well in advance where possible. This will allow us to start and build the required activity to provide the best chance of being able to proceed as desired. In cases where this is not possible, Sunshine Coast Afloat will offer alternative solutions and options to best accommodate the voucher recipient. This may include a slightly different duration or departure time to match the voucher as closely as possible. In cases where such activities have a higher cost attached the difference will be payable on the day of the departure.

3. EXPIRED GIFT VOUCHERS

All gift vouchers have an expiry date clearly marked on them. Booking requests AFTER the voucher expiry date will not be accepted unless special circumstances have made it impossible for the voucher recipient to have used the voucher within its validity period. Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to determine what exactly constitutes such special circumstances on a case by case situation. Sunshine Coast Afloat reserves the right to offer any such case an alternative. This is normally done by discussion and multiple offers where possible. If such alternatives are considered unsuitable by the voucher recipient, the voucher will be again deemed expired and no longer able to be used. If an alternative offer has been accepted by the voucher recipient and weather or guest/passenger numbers prevent the alternative activity from proceeding, Sunshine Coast Afloat may at their discretion offer another alternative or alternatives. If such alternative(s) are considered unsuitable by the voucher recipient, the voucher will be again deemed expired and no longer able to be used. Please note that Sunshine Coast Afloat will work with voucher recipients to the best of their abilities to enable the recipient to make use of their gift voucher. TO enable this cooperation and understanding from the voucher recipient is essential.

Prior to purchasing a gift Voucher we highly recommend you read the terms and conditions on this site to avoid misunderstandings.

In short, YES. We Absolutely do sell gift vouchers – aka Gift Cards!

Our Gift Vouchers are a very high quality pre-printed tri-fold card which is designed to impress when given as a gift. Any marine based experience provided by Sunshine Coast Afloat can be purchased as a gift voucher.

You can order them online HERE (Just click on the “GIFT CARDS” tab- in RED along the top), or call or email us to arrange them. Whichever you find easiest. Or you can look on our website for the experience you like, and when you go to book online it will give you an option to purchase the experience as a gift voucher instead.

How Sunshine Coast Afloat operate with Gift Vouchers is that once ordered, your information is printed (not handwritten) on them. That is the name of the person you are purchasing the gift for, and a message (up to about 3 lines of text) to personalise it. We then scan the voucher (before it is folded), and email that scan to you so that you have an instant record should the original get lost. We then post the original gift voucher to you. There is a small additional charge for postage (to cover the cost of the stamp).

You are able to order them as an online version only, in which case you can print them at home yourself and save the cost of the postage.

Our Gift Vouchers are valid for 3 years from date of purchase. They can also be used as a part payment for a higher value tour is so desired.

Booking using a gift voucher is simple. You can do so by booking online, calling us or emailing us. Whichever is your preference.

We do recommend you read this section about our gift vouchers as well: GIFT VOUCHER CONDITIONS

Payment Questions

To secure a booking a minimum of 25% deposit, of the total fee, is required for any booking.

This can be done via credit (or Debit) Card, either by phone or our online booking system.

If you don’t have a Credit or Debit card we can provide you our account details and you can deposit the funds directly into our account. We will provide you with a reference number to ensure we are able to match the payment with your booking. These funds are required a minimum of 21 days prior to the departure date. This time frame is needed because of the time it can take to clear funds, the delay which happens from time to time between booking and payment and our need to be able to be confident we have the numbers to assist of passengers on such charters.

Please note that in the case of payment of any booking via a direct deposit, your booking is not secured until the funds have indeed been received.

The balance is payable prior to boarding for individuals or small groups of up to a maximum of 3 people. This balance can be paid in cash or credit card.

Groups of 4 or more MUST pay the balance 7, 14 or 21 days  before the actual departure date. The time frames depend on the size of the group and are clearly outlined in our Terms & Conditions.

The reasons for the different time frames are purely to allow us enough time to find other passengers to replace your spots on the vessel. The more people that need to be replaced the longer time is required to cover that.

Conditions and time frames for payments other than credit card are applicable and can be found in our Terms & Conditions.

The listed price is the price you pay. Including tax.

We understand that you may not have a printer handy when you’re travelling so it is not necessary to have a printed copy.

However, we may require that you show ID matching your reservation should there be any question about the booking.

You will also receive an SMS confirmation on your mobile phone, which will be able to assist in the case of any issues.

If paying by credit card there is a 1.5% credit card surcharge.

Please note this surcharge is not refundable as it is a bank fee payable to the applicable financial institution regardless of the trip proceeding or not.

There is an administration fee if booking online from our booking platform.  You can still make a booking by bank transfer, phone or email without incurring this fee.

Cruises can be booked with the option to use our fully licenced bar (no extra charges) or you can choose to go BYO. If you choose to go BYO you will be charged a BYO Corkage fee (this amount is clearly indicated on the trip costs).

Some private trip may require a $500.00 security deposit which is fully refundable at the conclusion of the trip provided there has been no damage or incident that may have required police intervention.

We do not charge any extra fees or fuel surcharges. The listed price is the price you pay. Including GST.

 

Life changes, we understand that. And sometimes your plans have to change.

The only things we ask is that you advise us in time (see cancelation information here) and in writing.

ALL CANCELLATIONS MUST BE INFORMED IN WRITING to us as we can not rely on our memories (or yours) to ensure this happens. This writing is ideally via email, but we will accept SMS, Messenger and Facebook DM versions as well. By all means call us to discuss it, and if we can at the time we will action it immediately. You will then receive a cancelation notice from our booking system or, if you are not just cancelling but swapping your booking to another date, a rebooking notice. These are emailed to you.

If you have booked via one of our booking agents (eg Adrenaline, Red Balloon etc) you Must cancel via them (they are also the people who in these cases arrange you refund, not us). We can in most cases arrange change of dates for your booking if that is what you are needing to do.

Finally, if you do need a refund for the trip please understand that accounts are processed once a week and it can take a few additional days for the refund to show in your account.

We accept Bartercard as a form of payment.  Terms and conditions apply.  Please contact the office directly for such bookings.

 

Unfortunately this is not possible. We do understand that this places a large amount of responsibility on the person taking on such a role. As such, for organisers of larger groups we have special offers in place.  Group discounts may also apply to ensure further incentive for the group organisers to be able to secure the funds more easily from the persons in their group in advance. This requires a single contact person to take full responsibility of that booking. That includes all financial aspects as clearly outlined in our Terms & Conditions under Group Booking Specific terms and conditions.

Another advantage of a group booking is that the entire group knows their places are secured, and that nobody in the group will miss out. If a group insists on paying individually the booking WILL NOT be considered a group booking, and each person would be considered a separate individual. As such we cannot hold spaces for such individuals and this may in turn mean that those slow to contact us might find the charter has received other bookings which make their booking impossible causing them to miss out.

Preparation Questions

What to wear when going on a boat is somethings confusing.  When venturing out on the water it is always advisable to wear something comfortable.  This will obviously depend on the activity you are participating in .

It is recommended to have a comfortable pair of shoes, boots, or sneakers. It is preferable to dress in layers and wear clothing that will wick away perspiration and keep you dry and comfortable.

If kayaking please ensure your clothing is suitable to be wet as the likelihood of remaining dry on a kayak is very small for most people.

 

Not much, remember our trips are all inclusive.

We do suggest you bring appropriate clothing to fit the activity and season and in some instances a day pack to carry any special dietary requirements you may have.

Any trips/tours over 1 hour in length have water and snacks supplied.

Longer duration activities have a greater selection of refreshments included. The exact inclusions are listed with the activity on this site.

Further recommendations will be communicated to you via text prior to your trip.

Whale Watching Questions

Season:

The majority of operators start their Humpback Whale Watching season late May, early June but we find the numbers, here on the Sunshine Coast, at that time of the year are very low in comparison to the later months so we start in July and finish at the end of October.

We are all very excited to see the whales and want to get out in search of them but that is exactly what it is if you go too early.  It becomes a whale searching trip rather than a whale watching trip.

During the months of mid May, June & July the whales are migrating north towards the Whitsundays to mate and give birth.  This is a good time to see the whales but we do have to travel out wider to see them at this time of the season.

August is a month where some whales are heading north and some have started back south so it is a particularly good time of year to venture out.  Some of our best sightings have been in August.

September and October see the full extent of the southern migration,  we tend to see many more mothers and the calves relax, rest and very often play, which is an absolute delight for all! If we had to choose a single month to name as the best month to go Whale Watching it would be September heads and shoulders above all other months!

No two whale watching journeys are the same, with an unforgettable experience occurring during the whole whale watching season.

This cruise is about venturing out into nature so the outcome is 100% on the whales terms.

The best time to cruise on  is when you are relaxed and have time to unwind, enjoy and learn.

Time of Day:

People always want to know if whale watching is better in the morning or the afternoon. To be completely honest there is really no ‘better time.’

We would recommend you choose your cruise depending on your family situation. Do you like to sleep in? How far have you got to travel? Are the kids up early and ready to get going in the morning? Would you prefer to return close to sunset and a cold drink in hand?

As a general rule, the ocean is calmer in the mornings.

There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the whales antics and activity at any particular time, they basically do what they want when they want.

So anytime is the best time to watch whales!

If you are looking for the best scenic light for photography, choose a morning cruise as the light doesn’t seem to be as impacted on the position on the vessel as it does in the afternoon.

 

Unfortunately the answer is no.

Refunds are available only in instances where the trip has not proceeded or where a customer has had to cancel their booking and provided sufficient written notice to Sunshine Coast Afloat.  A trip that has not sighted whales ( rare but it does happen) is not eligible for a refund under any circumstance. Our goal is alway to give our customers the best opportunity to see whales in their natural environment, but the time of season, weather (both in the days before and after a trip) and lady luck all play their part in the success of each and every outing.

We are not heading out to a controlled environment to see trained animals. We are heading out into their natural habitat and have to understand that what the whales did yesterday or last week may be very different from what the whales that are about at the time of your trip will without doubt be very different.

We limit our season, a late start and early finish, to give our customers the best chance possible to see whales. But there are simply days where they spend so much time submerged that you do not get to see them. Luckily these days are the exception rather than the rule. And if possible we will often offer some form of discount or free 2nd trip. But this offer remains at Sunshine Coast Afloat’s dissection.

You sure can!

Crusader 1 is child friendly and we love having families on board.  Seeing the children’s faces light up when they see the whales makes for a much more memorable trip.

Whale watching is one of the most exciting and memorable occasions for kids and adults alike! Spotting the marvellous giant humpback whale in its natural habitat and watching as it brings nearly its entire body out of the water, then breaches with an epic splash is a sight you won’t forget.

If you have your own child life jacket, you are welcome to bring that on board.  If you wish your child to wear a life jacket, please advise our staff when you arrive or prior so we can have it ready for you.  If they haven’t worn one before, it might be a good idea to discuss what they are and why we wear them.

Ensure you dress your child comfortably and pack a jacket. The breeze can be a little cool when you are at sea! Catering is available on board but you are welcome to bring any other food on board..

All children must be looked after by the adults in your group.

 

 

We are often asked “How big is the boat we are going out on?” by potential customers. It has become apparent than when it comes to boats SIZE MATTERS!

Our vessel, Crusader 1 is a large, Australian made, commercial vessel, that has been transformed from it’s “work-horse” origins to be the ideal platform for all manner of recreational tourism activities. All without sacrificing it’s commercial heritage of extreme safety and reliability so obviously needed in the commercial sector.  With it’s much greater weight and heavy duty construction, she instantly provides the quality voyage experience you expect from a quality vessel.

Measuring a substantial 55 foot (over 17 meters!). Crusader 1 provides it’s passengers with a large open main-deck ensuring you have plenty of room to move about. In addition the bow section has been updated and is a great spot to relax on the beanbags we use there. It even has it’s own table for your drinks and nibbles! All this space and we only take 23 passengers (+ 3 crew) on our open ocean cruises and charters!

Another ideal fact is that Crusader 1 is “an open deck boat” (not enclosed unless we need clears for unexpected weather). This means you always have the fresh sea air to enjoy and will never feel “closed in”!.  Our main deck level is about 1.5 m from the water level. This is the perfect height when it comes to both whale watching and fishing. And it has the added benefit that it ensures you do not get a lot of the “rolling” action taller and double story vessels often suffer from.  The open deck layout also ensures you can easily follow the whales around the boat, making sure you never miss out on getting a great viewing experience, regardless of which side of the boat they are on.

Crusader 1’s deep keel further helps give her a smooth stable gliding action through the water, further reducing any swaying tendencies, which is so often the reason people feel seasick on vessels.

So in short, Crusader 1 is a (very) big, safe and comfortable vessel with heaps of space, catering for only a small number of passengers! Even without social distancing impacts it ensures everyone gets a great trip every time.