Stacey and I arrived in Airlie Beach and checked into a fully-stocked cabin in an RV Park. Pure luxury – all the amenities we could need…Tim Tams in the fridge. It was important for us to be comfortable, as we were still feeling Jucy-Van withdrawals.
We thought we should explore the town that evening and as we were getting ready to go out, we turned on the TV. I am proud to have watched a grand total of maybe five hours of television since arriving on the continent four weeks ago. The part I’m a little less proud of…: the entirety of my exposure to Australian television has been So You think You Can Dance: Australia. Crikey…! Well at least I can blame friends for ‘making’ me watch the first three episodes (thanks Alice, Megan, Cat…); I happen to be in Brisbane on three different occasions when it just happened to be on. Stacey got hooked during two of those occasions, so we not only watched the entire episode that night in Airlie Beach…we guffawed with the audience when Timomatic was voted off. Poor guy.
Anyway, we tore ourselves away from the riveting show (we waited until it was done) and had a fun night out. We were told later that it’s an unwritten rule that people get to A.B. and stay up late dancing and then have to get on their sailboat tour the next day. I like to think I already had my sea-legs on. I was swaying before we left shore! Ha, no, no, it wasn’t so bad…
We boarded the beautiful Condor, a well-traveled and highly adorned tall ship that reached her peak, racing-wise, in the 80’s. We met our crew: Aaron, Ange, and Adele, and the 27 other 18-35 year-olds we would be bunking with for the next two nights and days. After the administrative/rule stuff was dealt with, the sails were hoisted and we set off at a mad pace towards our first destination: Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven Beach. This is a beautiful mass of white sand; swirls of light blue and white that spans over seven kilometers. We would would anchor there for the night. Unfortunately the mad pace to get there was more of a saunter as the sails billowed in an ‘S’ shaped – we failed to catch the non-existent wind. It was still beautiful as we slowly motored our way through the many islands (there are said to be over 70 of them). The lazy sunset suited the atmosphere of the boat and the feelings of the passengers. We ate our chicken dinner, and we all got to know each other a little better.
It was a long, hot and muggy night. The Irish boys were drinking goon until 3:00am and attempting to mimic all the bird sounds they had heard in their many months of travel. They were surprisingly talented, much to the chagrin of the 20 odd people listening below…. I would be surprised if anyone got any sleep before 2am.
I have to admit that although I make every attempt to avoid thinking myself a victim, I really felt hard-done-by with my particular bunk. It was a coffin! Stacey and I were ‘lucky’ to get a double bed. This meant that some one (by chance, a really charming bloke that was quite disgusted with the whole arrangement and made every attempt at making it easier on us) slept above the person against the wall (me)….less than two feet above… when I turned on my side, my hips would move the mesh of his hammock (and apparently give him a relaxing massage – but that’s for another blog). It was already stuffy in the cabin and the human sandwich that was me just couldn’t handle it. I crept onto the cool, dewy deck above, and managed to sleep a few. It was hard, and actually a bit cold with the sopping sheet that was my blanket, but the view was unbeatable!
The stars: wow. With very little interfering light and only a sliver of a moon, the stars were very clear and bright. All the constellations are upside down and Orion lies on his side down here in the Southern Hemisphere. The second night of the trip, with some forethought and the necessity of avoiding the dungeon below, I saved myself some pain and asked for a mat to sleep on. As I was falling asleep I finally found something I have been trying to locate for the last month or so: The Big Dipper. It’s here, it’s just turned upside down and only visible along the horizon for part of the night. It’s also really faint, so definitely not the superstar it is up North. I felt comforted by seeing a little speck of home and was able to sleep soundly the second night.
Anyway, we spent the next full day swimming and checking out Whitehaven Beach. We weren’t able to sail that day either, but as Aaron, our captain, pointed out: we got blue skies and calm water and intensely warm sunshine, so it was a bit of a trade-off. He said this after blaming us passengers for not doing the ‘wind-making dance’ well enough.
On our way to one of the other bays we saw dolphins. They played in the wake of passing boats and provided much entertainment. We spent some time snorkeling and swimming and then watched the sunset from a small island made of sand. The second night was a little tamer (everyone had run out of booze) so it was a little more relaxed. We had to get up early to take advantage of being anchored in Blue Pearl Bay – also dubbed The Fish Tank. There are SO many fish. They swim around you like you’re the good looking one! The visibility wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t matter because they are all so close to you. Sweet!
The Lovely Crew
So that was our sailing trip through the Whitsundays. I would highly recommend it if you get the chance to get out this way. The boat was beautiful, the staff was really laid-back, but still professional, and the scenery was outstanding. My one suggestion: just ask for the sleeping mat right off the bat and save yourself the feeling of slowly drowning in a too-hot, stinky-foot-stew. Mmmhh….
Theme Songs of the Day:
Neopolitan Dreams – Lisa Mitchell, from the album Welcome to the Afternoon [note* this one’s for you Kim & Jenny]
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young, from the album After the Gold Rush
Hospitla Beds – Cold War Kids, from the album Robbers and Cowards
Absinthe Party – Minus the Bear, from the album Highly Refined Pirates