Cape Trib to Airlie Beach

Trip Start Jan 29, 2008
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7
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Trip End Apr 30, 2008


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Our next major stop was Airlie beach. In between there was beautiful scenery and a couple of stop offs, but you're not really interested in hearing a day by day account of all that.... Airlie beach was stunning though. The beach was so peaceful, no waves and loads of expensive looking sailboats moored out in the sea, palm trees sheltering the walkway etc etc. We got there and registered for our sailing trip round the Whitsundays which we'd booked in Ayers Rock. We were still debating as to whether it was a good idea. The weather on the way down hadn't been brilliant and when it rains it really really rains there. We had to pull over a few times because the heat made the inside of the windscreen steam up and we had no air con to clear it and you couldn't exactly open the window without drowning. In the end though, we decided to make the best of a bad situation and go for the trip. There was about twenty people on the boat, excluding staff and this is where we met our first Irish people! Gaz was a Dubliner about my own age who obviously caught the travelling bug really bad because he's seen most of the world already and there's no sign of him going home yet. The chef was an Irish guy as well, Daz... He cooked up an absolute storm and I asked him to marry me. I thought all Irish guys were spoilt by their Mammy's too much to know how to cook!

Anyhow, we headed out the first evening and took shelter from the wind in a bay. The bay was no good against the rain tho! And it rained. The crew were amazing, very friendly and up for a laugh the whole time. The skipper, Wazza, lit a lamp over the sea by the side of the boat, which attracted loads of little blue fish, which in turn attracted loads of squid and in between showers we stood watching the squid dart up to the surface and grab and the fish. He was hoping to attract dolphins with the squid but we didn't get lucky. Anyhow, it was still better than any tv program I've seen!

The next day there were a few sore heads after a few of the younger guys drank too much goon (cheap wine) the night before and the sore heads turned into green heads when we headed out of the bay into waves about 2 metres high.... The fishes fed well that afternoon! We were taken to the world famous Whitehaven Island, trekked through the rainforest (yes I got eaten alive again) and across to a beach that has been voted the most beautiful in the world. The sand was pure white silica, incredibly fine and the water was an amazing blue (I feel like I'm repeating myself possibly, but you need to see it to believe it) From a lookout on top of the hill you can see Rays swimming in the shallow water and we were told occasionally sharks too. Myself, Gaz and a couple of Canadians went exploring the nearby rocks and we were rewarded with two baby leopard sharks who were very shy but we still got to peek them for a bit. When heading back to the boat I spotted a turtle coming up for air - they're huge, who knew?!!! It must have been two feet long. We were very lucky that day and the rain stayed off while we were there.

We then headed further around the islands that afternoon to get to Luncheon Bay where it was our first chance to go diving and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. There were two groups of divers so myself, Sarah and Lois got onto the beach and went snorkelling while we waited for the other group to finish up. We didn't see an awful lot and we headed into the beach again to wait when it started raining again. It soaked us through and this time we got really cold. Diving then was a bit of a pity, we had to cut it short because we got so cold and the visibility wasn't great when it started raining again, but having said that we did see a moray eel up close and personal. We headed back out to see and to another bay to settle in for another night at sea. The chef really outdid himself that night - roast beef in Worcester sauce with roasted potatoes, pumpkin..... I mean, any man capable of that dinner while in a kitchen in the bottom of a boat has to be worthy of a wedding proposal... We went to bed very happy and very full. That was the first roast dinner in what seemed a very long time.

The next day we headed for another dive area, but given our bad luck the previous day we thought we'd stick to snorkelling. There was a group of about ten of us girls all stuck together which was a bit of a nightmare. Sarah would stick her head down and power off in a straight line, leaving a long line of girls trying to keep up and make sure we were going in the right direction. A few girls got water in their snorkel and had to come up for air a couple of times and then one of the girls got a cramp in her let. We were very proud to be able to do first aid in the water (thanks to our wonderful coach Liz!!!). I held her up and paddled my fins to keep me afloat while Lois flexed her calf to work out the cramp. I reckon we saved her life!!! The wildlife here was pretty spectacular though once we got going properly. When the rest of the girls got out I stayed in just floating at the top and watching what went on below. You can actually hear some of the parrot fish grinding at the coral from the surface and I saw a Wrasse. This thing was about two foot by two foot, it's huge! and blue and purple. It was amazing and I followed him around for a while till he got bored of me. I even tried to do the whole diving down underwater a couple of meters to get closer and coming back up, clearing my snorkel like a professional and continuing on, but I couldn't. Firstly I couldn't make myself sink, which Sarah found hilarious and then I got to the surface with loads of water in my snorkel which I promptly choked on. Ah well, practice makes perfect. Anyhow, that brought our sailing trip round the Whitsundays to an end and we sailed back into the harbour and waved goodbye to our lovely crew and fellow sailors on a mad dash 900km to Hervey Bay to catch our next tour 24 hours later!!! See my next posting for more details!
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