Friday, February 13, 2015

Sailing the Whitsundays

“Calm seas never made a skilled sailor.”  That’s the phrase that kept running through my head throughout my whole sailing trip on the Mandrake.  It was a nice little sail boat and there were 14 of us and two crew: Eugene the Captain, and Luca the deckie/cook.  It was Luca’s first trip, and he’s only 18, but we all thought he did a fine job (he makes killer mashed potatoes as well).  Since we didn’t have to be at the Abel Point Marina until 2:30pm I had most of the day free, after checking out of my hostel at 9am.  I was able to finish the book my friend Kae sent me, “The City of Tranquil Light” (which I highly recommend), and after finding out the local library isn’t actually in town, and would be closing soon anyway, was pointed in the direction of a book exchange shop.  I was able to trade it in for a new book, “Miss Savidge Moves Her House”, which is a rather fascinating true story that I’m still enjoying.

Anyway, the time finally came and I met the rest of my travel companions: 7 Germans, 5 English, and one Scotsman.  Everyone was traveling with other people, however I never really felt left out; the boat’s far too small for that to happen.  Our first sailing experience was quite rough and a lot of people felt rather sea-sick.  I was sitting at the front of the boat (everyone sits on the high side while we’re sailing, so there’s not much room), so I was completely soaked by the time we arrived at our mooring point for the evening.  Because the sea was so rough Luca had been unable to boil the water for our spaghetti dinner during the voyage, thus we had a rather late meal that evening.  It had been cloudy and overcast for most of the afternoon, and it ended up raining that night so we were a bit miserable trying to sleep.  We had to keep all the hatches closed to keep the rain out, so there was almost no air circulation (and the heat from cooking dinner hadn’t really had time to escape before we all headed to bed).

No one got much sleep that night, but we were up around 6am the next morning and heading to famous Whitehaven beach, recognized as one of the world’s best beaches with 6 miles of pure white silica sand.  It was still cloudy and overcast so it wasn’t quite like the photos you always see, but it was very pretty despite the cloud cover.
 During our walk up to the lookout over the beach I was able to spot a goanna, which is basically a type of lizard.  I will admit it did give me a bit of a fright when I first saw and heard it. Despite the clouds and sailing in the later afternoon the day before I’d still managed to get sunburnt so I did not use the world renowned sand to do any exfoliating.  Several of the girls even “washed” their hair with the sand, but I declined their invitation to join them; I have enough trouble trying to keep my hair tame as it is!  After our time at Whitehaven and a bit of lunch we headed to some snorkel spots.  The first one had tons of fish, including George, the resident Maori Wrasse.  Eugene was throwing bread to them so we had quite an array swimming madly around us.  The next spot was the coral spot, and of course more fish – including an anemone fish family.  The final snorkel spot of the day was the turtle hangout.  We had seen some turtles from the boat while sailing the day before, and we were lucky enough to see one while snorkeling as well.  I still couldn’t get a very good photo of it, but now I’ve seen a few in the wild so I’m fine with that.  After our snorkeling was finished we headed to a nice calm spot for the night.  We were blessed with a gorgeous sunset that night and we all sat up on deck after dinner talking and playing some card games.

We were blessed with what Eugene claims was the best night of sleep he’s had since rainy season began.  With no rain we were able to keep all the hatches open, so it was nice and cool.  We were up in time for a delightful sunrise and a nearly cloudless sky!  Sadly, the sunny day ahead wasn’t exactly the best news for me since I was already feeling my sunburn from the previous two days of cloudy skies.  After a nice breakfast and thoroughly sunscreening I I took my turn in the dinghy to get to the beach for a few hours.  The sun is so harsh here and even though it was only 8am I could just feel the sunburn so I ended up napping in the shade.  Once back on Mandrake we had just enough time to stow all our stuff on the right side of the boat for the ride home (and time for me to reapply sunscreen).  Since the wind would be coming from the left the high side of the boat would be left as well so we didn’t want our stuff flying around down below.
It was a lovely ride back to Airlie Beach; I truly do enjoy just being on the water.  I sat in the very back of the line this time around so I remained relatively dry.  The scenery was spectacular as we sailed past lots of islands and saw a few other sail boats, all set against the stunning turquoise water filled with tiny whitecaps and a bright blue sky overhead.  Though I wasn’t able to shower or wash my hair for two days, and did not appreciate the claustrophobia-inducing toilets it was definitely a trip I would enjoy taking again.

No comments:

Post a Comment