Friday, 29 December 2006

Cruising the Wetsundays!

Why did no one tell me before I headed out that summer in Aus is actually monsoon season???? As ever, I step near a boat, the waves swell and it starts to rain. My maxiaction trip around the Whitsundays on a racing yacht was not the skin frying experience I imagined - although probably just as well as even when it was overcast some folks fried.

Despite the weather, the trip on Ragamuffin II was superb. The group was made up of 12 bikini clad girls and Jake - a slightly overwhelmed 19 year old Gap year student. The mix was made up of Germans, Americans, Swiss and myself and Jake as the honoury Brits.

We set off on an overcast but not soggy day and sailed to Whitehaven beach - apparently one of THE most beautiful beaches in the world because of the high silica levels in the sand. It was absolutely stunning but with an overcast day the colours of the sand and water weren't as vibrant as I had seen on the postcards. We had three hours there to enjoy the sand and surf.

Donning our stinger suits we were soon all in the water. The water was pretty shallow and beatifully warm. As I swam a shadow passed beneath me. I knew there were stingrays about so I wasn't too fussed. It was only as i got out on the sand bank sticking out of the water that anyone mentioned sharks. Not 1 shark but 15-20 all feeding on the fish by the sand bank! Addmittedly they were only about a metre in length but I was glad no one had mentioned they were there whilst i was swimming as i probably would have paniked. They were absolutely stunning and I spent ages watching them.

That evening we chilled on the boat with food and drink beneath non-existant stars. Everyone was pretty shattered after an afternoon running around the beach getting sun burnt so the 'party' ended about 9pm and we all headed to bed.

Following day we sailed to Dunbell Island where we went for a snorkel along a stunning piece of coral reef. Unfortunately, clouds and waves meant that visibility wasn't great but we still saw some stunning fish and negotiated ourselves around the odd stinger.

In the afternoon the weather took a turn for the worst. The rain pelted it down so we all donned bright yellow fishermans' macs whilst we sailed. With the wind the sailing was absolutely awesome and I had a fab time - even if the girl next to me did throw up inches from my bare foot. Absolutely love sailing now. The boat was at 45 degrees going full pelt and it was an amazing feeling.

In the afternoon we docked near South Molle Island where there was a resort with swimming pool, hot showers and cocktail bar we could utilise the following day if the weather continued to be shitty.

It turned out to be a great stop. The island had a fabulous walk up to Mount Jeffrey - a lookout point over the Whitsundays. It was a stunning walk with lots of wildlife to be seen. Within 50 yards a girl had spotted a snake - a 1.5m silver snake with a yellow bellie. Thankfully off the track. However, 2km into the walk my snake attracting antennae took action and despite being four back, a snake decided to wriggle practically across my foot - it was literally two inches from my big (bare) toe. Needless to say it took me a tad by surprise! We also came across some parakeets, some road runner type birds and some beautiful butterflies.

After our mini trek it was cocktails by the pool before back on the boat to sail back to Airlie Beach. The whole trip was fabulous (i won't mention the bed bugs - apparently a fact of life in Aus)and was only partly ruined by a few grumpy germans who decided to complain about the food (which I actually thought was amazing considering Ado the deck hand had to cook for 13 in a tini galley). The group from that point split in half and it all got a bit nasty. I chose to stay out of it.

In the evening instead of meeting up with the group for drinks I caught up with Shane - an aussie skipper i'd met on Christmas Eve and we headed out for a top notch seafood dinner.

Today i had an early morning rise to catch the boat to the airport - sounds weird but true! The boat actually pulls up to the airport terminal on Hamilton Island. Had a great flight down and am now in Sydney. Just realised its 4pm and i've only had a croissant and a packet of crisps to eat today so i think it's time i find food. Sorry not going to spell check this so it may be a bit messy on the typo front!

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