Finding Nemo!

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
1
47
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Trip End Jul 14, 2012


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Where I stayed
Summertime Boat

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Andy here today!

On Sunday we woke up bright and early (well, for us anyway) at 6:45am to make our final preparations for our 3-day cruise around the Whitsundays. 

We were sailing on a boat called "Summertime", which we later found out used to be a fishing boat in it's heyday, built in the 1950s and had a lovely wooden deck.  The boat was made for 16 guests and 3 crew (including the captain), needless to say it was snug downstairs but still comfortable.

After a briefing by Captain Brad and then Branden (who was the diving instructor for the trip) we finally set off!

It was a lovely clear day and the water was pretty calm, so no seasickness this time! After a couple of hours of admiring the beautiful waters and enjoying the sunshine we moored up for lunch, cooked by the lovely Kriz on board the boat. There were lots of turtles sticking their heads out of the water just a few metres from the boat.

After lunch we headed towards the Whitsunday Island National Park which is where the world famous Whitehaven Beach is situated - if any of you have seen a postcard picture of the Whitsundays it will most likely have been taken from the look-out overlooking Whitehaven Beach. We were dropped off by the boat at Tongue Bay, to trek to the opposite side of the point to Whitehaven Beach. 

We weren't disappointed when we reached the look-out - it's a big call to make but it's probably the most stunning view we've seen on our travels so far. We were just amazed!

After quite a few snaps by everybody we headed down from the look-out to spend the afternoon chilling out on Whitehaven Beach.  It's funny because I keep mentioning to Fran on our travels about how fine and soft the sand was when I was in Barbados years ago and that I hadn't found any sand finer than that since. Well let me tell you the beach in Barbados is no comparison to Whitehaven!! The sand is the finest and softest I've ever come across -  it's powdery white, almost like flour and, because it's so fine, when you walk on it it actually makes a squeaking noise!

We had a brief wander around and spotted a sting-ray in the shallows after which we set up the towels for some sunbathing. Again unfortunately it's coming into high season for stingers and so to swim in the beautiful sea we all had to wear wet suits to protect us from the stinging jelly-fish. It didn't dampen the experience and the water was incredible! The endless beach views weren't too bad either!

After spending a few hours on Whitehaven and taking some funny posed photos with Kris we headed back to the boat. 5pm meant 'beer o'clock' and so we all settled down to our BYO (bring-your-own) booze, which for Fran and I was boxed wine or "goon" as the locals call it - it wasn't the best Sauvignon Blanc we'd ever tasted, but it was nothing that a little Sprite couldn't sort out! As the sun was setting a couple of dolphins came to check the boat out which Fran loved as she really wanted to see some dolphins on the trip.

At around 7ish we had a lovely dinner, and once the beautiful sun had set we all sat downstairs in the chill-out area to review some of the crew's pictures from the day and also where we'd actually sailed.  When we'd finished went back up on deck and watched the hundreds of stars (some of them shooting) under one of the clearest skies we'd seen. As for sleeping arrangements in the cabin down below, they weren't too bad - we had a double bed and it was all fully air-conned -pretty good really! And Paul, there were no bed bugs which we were pleased about!

All was fine down in the cabin until we were woken at 5.30am on the Monday morning by the engines of the boat turning on and hearing the chug-chug-chug of the boat moving. There was definitely no point trying to get back to sleep as Branden called us all down for breakfast at 6:30am - I thought you were supposed to be relaxed and taking it easy on a sailing trip! Oh well!

By 8am we were moored up at the first location and getting ready to go out into the water. Fran and I had decided to make this trip our first scuba dive.  We'd never scuba dived before, and for Fran this was a big'un because she's never been too keen about the open water and particularly what lurks beneath the surface so she was feeling brave!

Anyhow we got our wetsuits on and were kitted out with all the scuba gear. We were doing it with a couple of Germans who hadn't ever scuba dived either. Once kitted out we were dropped off in the shallow water just off the beach to go over some basic scuba skills that we needed to show we could do before we actually went under water properly. The German guy struggled but we got there in the end!

We finally got underwater and it was amazing. We only went to 3.7m but the visibility was excellent and we saw heaps of colourful tropical fish. The coral wasn't actually that colourful which was a bit of a surprise after snorkeling in Fiji where the coral was so so bright! 

Whilst we were diving everyone else on the boat was snorkelling and at one point I remember looking up to the surface to see one of them looking down on me like I was in a fish bowl or something - I gave him/her a little wave and paddled on.....quite surreal!

We were down for about 20/25 mins I reckon, after which we headed back to the boat where we jumped into the jacuzzi, yep that's right a jacuzzi, to chill out a little!  We'd definitely got the bug for it and we were up for another dive later on but next time we wanted it to just be the two of us as we could dive a little deeper.

I was so proud of Fran for doing a scuba dive, like I say the open water is not one of her favourite environments so for us to have done this together was brilliant! It feels like we're experiencing a lot of exciting 'first times' with our activities on our adventure!

The next dive site was a 20-30 minute sail away. We opted out of this dive site and let the two Germans go on their own this time in the hope that it would just be the two of us at the next site. Fran wasn't bothered about snorkeling but I still decided to and saw a quite a bit of marine life whilst in the water. I was snorkeling with nobody around me in the open water and at one point the coral just dropped into a dark abyss, which was a little disconcerting as it was a bit like looking down from the top of a cliff from a height! At one point I was just paddling along just above the drop off of the coral when a mahoooosive fish casually swam out.......it was a good 1.5m-2m long and was very round! Being on my own in the water I backed away a little if I'm honest! I later found out it was a Blue Grouper which can grow to about 1.5m. Amazing!

After snorkelling I headed back to the boat, and then it was pretty much time for lunch. The next mooring was another 15 minutes away and this time it would just be Fran and I doing the dive so we were really excited. We asked Branden whether we could go down a little deeper this time and he said he'd see how we got on.

We got geared up and headed out once again. Once at the dive site about 20m off the coast, we had to enter the water from the boat like they do on the TV James Bond style - just rolling off the side of the boat, oxygen tank first. I felt like a pro, but I reckon looking on from the outside I looked as graceful as fur seal on land.

This time we were under the water in no time at all and we soon got down deeper than the last dive. We found out afterwards that this time we went to 7.4m - this was amazing because we were swimming in between the coral looking upwards at it like it was a small cliff. Unfortunately the visibility wasn't great but one thing we did notice is that you get followed everywhere by about 50-60 fish, again a little disconcerting at times! About 20 minutes into the dive I was following Branden and Fran when I saw them both get really excited, I looked forward only to catch a glimpse of what they were looking at about 3m in front of us - it was a white tip reef shark!! Amazing! It was about 2m long which is pretty big for a reef shark we were told. Branden was that excited he grabbed Fran's arm and dragged her to where the shark swam off too.....I could see by the look in Fran's eyes at the time that she wasn't too keen on chasing sharks that day but I don't think she had much choice!

When we came to the surface we were ecstatic that we'd managed to see, let alone swim, with a shark - the only one seen that day! Very special for us.

The evening was spent having dinner, drinking 'goon' and playing a few games before heading to bed relatively early knowing we'd have to get up at the crack of dawn to go kayaking.

The next day at around 8am we were geared up in our wetsuits and in the two-man kayaks ready to go in search of some turtles at 'turtle bay' - a fittingly obvious name for a bay, a bit like naming a town 'Townsville' now I come to think of it!

Anyway after literally 2.5 hours of paddling we'd seen absolutely nothing in turtle bay and the weather had taken a turn for the worse so we headed back. It was a bit of a shame as we really wanted to see the turtles up close. Anyway, we ended up back in the jacuzzi on the back of the boat so all was forgiven!

Afterwards we had a quick lunch of hot dogs with salad, headed out to the open sea and set sail for port. The sailing was awful in the rain and choppy waters and we were thankful that the bad weather had saved itself for the last 1/2 day.

We made it home for mid-afternoon, completely shattered. We were actually getting the overnight Greyhound bus in the evening to 1770/Agnes Water at midnight so it didn't help that we were knackered from the boat. We decided to drink to help us pass out on the bus, which thankfully we did!

What a magnificent 3 days sailing, snorkelling and best of all scuba diving on the Whitsundays. 

Until next time,
A tired Mahoney
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Comments

David Mahoney on

Looks brilliant! Glad you managed to scuba and enjoy it. Well done to Fran for giving it a go.
Lots of love and take care
D
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