Wow, I could really get used to this lifestyle! The winds eased off and the sun came out so we stocked the boat up with food and fuel and headed out to the Whitsundays for some R & R (as if we hadn’t plenty of that already!)
Our first stop was Stonehaven, at the top of Hook Island, a leisurely 15 mile sail from Airlie. With no-one else in the bay, we picked up a mooring and donned our snorkelling gear for our first look at local wildlife. There was lots of coral, but it was hard coral and quite bleached. It was still pretty spectacular though! After about an hours snorkelling we settled down on the boat with drinks in hand to watch the sunset, congratulating ourselves on having found a quiet spot for the evening! We spoke too soon, within an hour there were 20 boats in the bay, two of them of the big backpacker variety!! But it was still pretty spectacular and there was no need for us to keep anchor lights on as the huge boat next to us had enough wattage to light up a football field!
We set off first thing and headed around to Pinnacle Bay in search of better snorkelling, and boy were we rewarded – almost as soon as we stopped all these fish came up to the boat, there were hundreds of them! I slipped quietly into the water in order not to disturb them and then proceeded to frighten them all away by screeching loudly as they swam right up to my face!!
The coral was amazing – all sorts of colours and shapes – and loads of very strange looking wavy tentacle-like big bits – if you’ve seen the movie Pirates of the Caribbean II you’ll know what I mean when I say it was like the stuff the bad guys are made of in Davy Jones Locker! The fish were beautiful – we saw loads of Angel Fish – and another type that glowed a beautiful greeny colour on their tails.
After lunch we headed off to Border Island where Chris had promised me even better snorkelling, and he was right, it was so colourful and again loads of different types of fish. The big treat of the day was see a huge clam open and close on the seabed! We were getting a bit cold and tired so we headed back to the boat, warmed up with Irish Coffees (P.S. Dad, send more Paddy’s whisky urgently please – we’ve just run out!!) and settled down for our evenings entertainment. This comes in two parts; Part one is listening to the Charter Boats Schedules on channel 81. I shouldn’t laugh – we’ve all made plenty of mistakes ourselves, but it makes for riveting listening. There are tons of bareboat charters in the whitsundays, they all have to be anchored for the night by 4pm and make contact with their charter company each evening to say where they are and report any problems. The conversation usually goes like this:
Charter Company: Sunsail, sunsail calling Aquarius, aquarius
Charter Boat: Aquarius here Sunsail, over, out, roger
Charter Company: Ah, Aquarius: there’s no need to use all those radio terms a simple over will do
Charter Boat: Roger that sunsail, out, I mean over, roger, sorry.
Charter Company: Yes, well can you just tell me where you are this evening
Charter Boat: Ah, ah, roger that sunsail (then to someone in the background Psst..where are we) Ah sunsail we are in Catalan Bay for the evening. (meanwhile we are in Catalan Bay and there isn’t a charter boat around us) over, roger, romeo
Charter Company: Very good Aquarius, and any issues to report
Charter Boat: Well we were just wondering where the spare water tank is
Charter Company: You only have one but it has 500litres in it so it should be plenty for your trip
Charter Boat: well…the missus used it all in the shower this morning ..can you bring more water out to us….
And on it goes for about an hour – it’s like listening to a play on the radio. Then as soon as that ends, part two begins. All the charter boats who lied about their whereabouts are now racing into the anchorage before dark. They race each other to the few available moorings and then those that are unlucky enough not to get one, go into the anchoring process. Drop it, drag it, pick it up. Drop it, drag it, pick it up. After watching one particular boat for about an hour it all got too much for Chris and he yelled at one hapless skipper, “for christ’s sake, it’s 8 meters deep – that means you have to let out more than one meter of chain!!!!!!!!!!”
Next day the wind came up really strong again which put paid to our notions of another days snorkelling and with the forecast set for strong winds for the next few days we decided to head back to Airlie. We sailed via Daydream Island, where we dropped anchor and had lunch before going into the resort for a lookaround. It was really nice – lots of things to do, nice bars and restaurants. We discovered that if we pick up one of their moorings and pay a small fee we can use all the resort facilities. So we’re defintley going back, hey theres crazy golf to play……
We’re back in Airlie now – it’s roast night at the yacht club so we’re going to head in there shortly for dinner – ah, the luxury of eating food that someone else has cooked!! So we’ll sign off for now………