Sailing the Whitsundays

March 27, 2008

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Goodbye, Cairns. Hello, Whitsunday Islands. I snagged a cheap JetStar flight (cheaper than busing for 12 hours) down to Airlie Beach for my sailing trip. I ended up splurging on a 3 day/3 night trip on a 82′ maxi yatch.

After checking in for the trip, I grabbed some horrible Mexican food. I really need to just forget about Mexican food until June. There’s a reason Aussies hate Mexican food, they’ve never had good Mexican food, because it doesn’t exist here. ;) As I was packing a day pack for my sailing trip, I happened to meet our neighbors at the hostel. I’ve now officially met people from the Outback. They’re the Aussie equivalent of rednecks, complete with the Crocodile Dundee hats. I hadn’t laughed that hard since I got to Australia. Good times.

Sailing Day 1
I arrived at the wrong dock at the marina. So I ended up asking some old fishermen if they knew where the Oz Sailing dock was and they said (Aussie accents please), “well what’s the name of your boat”, I replied, “I don’t remember, but it sounded dirty”, they all burst out at once “Ahhh, SPANK me”, me: “yep, that’s the one.” Yes, the boat’s name is ‘Spank Me’. It used to be a racing yacht, (which by the end of the day is very evident). There are about 20+ other backpackers onboard, all around 18-23, on Easter break from uni, (except one 25 year old). I think I might be the oldest person on the boat. The good news is that since I’m traveling by myself, I get a double bunk instead of a single! We stopped for the night near Whitehaven Beach.

Sailing Day 2
I woke up at 5:45am. I love waking up on a boat and being the only person on-deck. I ate a tangerine and a granola bar and watched the sun come up. After breakfast, we shuttled over to the island, hiked up to the lookout spot and then relaxed on the beach and waded in the water for a few hours. After lunch, I got to do my included introductory SCUBA dive. We started out from the beach instead of straight off the boat. I’ve always wanted to learn to SCUBA dive, but I was suddenly nervous because I didn’t feel like I had enough information. We did a test dive in shallow waters, clearing our masks and re-inserting our respirators. I still felt totally panic-y, (which I wasn’t expecting at all), and then we were off, following Tane through the water. After I was completely submersed I immediately relaxed. I was breathing underwater and it was amazing! It was so much easier than snorkeling too. I loved it! After our dive we went back to the boat and had snacks. Sailing is incredible! I should really stop gushing about sailing, but I won’t. The sunsets are unbelievable, the food is good, open water as far as the eye can see, and even good music! I may have a crush on someone’s iPod.

Sailing Day 3
I really need to wash my hair. I think I’m growing saltwater dreads. Back to my “morning routine” of watching the sun come up. I could totally get used to this. Last night we sailed out to the Reef (the Great Barrier Reef extends all the way down here by the Whitsunday Islands). This morning we all snorkeled off the boat (and those who have PADI dive certs SCUBA-ed). We were supposed to stay in groups of snorkelers, but in my exuberance for snorkeling, I may have wandered off… oops… ;) I swam over a reef shark and I’m sure they could hear me all the way back at the boat, blubbering through my snorkel about a shark. But after reminding myself that they’re harmless, I kept swimming and I found a turtle. A huge turtle! I selfishly “forgot” to wave to everyone, so I had it all to myself and ended up following the turtle around for about 20 minutes. Nature is amazing. I’m really liking Australia now. After snorkeling, I spent the whole afternoon hiding from the sun, with my new sunburn, reading the ‘The Kite Runner’.

Sailing Day 4
Today is the last day! Yes, I’d really like to take a regular shower, but I’d also really like to stay on the boat. I could totally live on a boat. Maybe I need to find a guy who sails. Anyway, we arrived back at the marina around noon. My bus to Fraser Island leaves tonight, so I didn’t have a hostel to check into to shower! Thankfully, I remembered that marinas usually have showers, so I got to use the showers for free. My hair feels 1000 times better. I walked back into Airlie Beach, had some lunch, grabbed my pack, and bought some boardies (Aussie slang for board shorts, they can’t not shorten words.) that I found on sale, before heading to the bus station.