19.08.2008 - 23.08.2008 20 °C
The reason for coming to here was to explore the Whitsunday Islands. They where discovered on June 4th, 1770, when Captain James Cook sailed through the islands on his voyage up Australia’s East Coast. Previously he named the Island chain collectively as the Cumberland Islands. Sam noticed this Cumbrian connection as many names of the Islands were places familiar to him, naturally Sam was very proud!
The greyhound bus trip from Cairns to Arilie beach wasn't too bad apart from the last 5 hours. This was due to two drunks shouting and spilling beer on the isle next to Sam. He therefore thought the name “grog hound” was more appropriate. On arriving, we had a coffee by the beach to try and stay awake, but realised that our great idea of putting the savings made by using a bus rather than a plane to arrive may have been a bit of an error. This was due to the fact that we didn't realise we had booked into a resort on one of the Islands, which was a ferry ride away from where our tour started the next day. In hindsight we should have looked more into this and not at the pictures of the resort called “Daydream Island Resort and Spa”!
We explored our secluded Island Resort and then settled down to what E-J described as “much needed sunbathing”although this was more suitable to one than the other!
Sam, tired of sunbathing after all of 5 minutes decided to play the resorts 19 hole crazy golf course, whilst E-J enjoy some quiet time in the Sun. The evening passed with an unimpressive cocktail for E-J and a disappointing meal for Sam before an early night in anticipation of our boat trip the following morning.
After a ferry and a taxi we arrived at Abel Point Marina in time to start our 3 day, 2 night tour. As we have now done plenty of tours Sam was rather cautious of spending so much time on a boat with 16 unknowns. Although the optimistic E-J kept telling him it would be fine. Sam's confidence didn't improve on hearing a German girl shout out “I love sailing!”.
After the usual safety debrief and details on how not to block the loo we set off on our 67ft ocean racing trimaran in good strong winds.
The freedom of the trimaran (catamaran to E-J) ensured that we could spread out across various parts of the boat, this was particularly appealing to Sam who was his usual "tour sociable self"!
After lunch at Cataran Bay it was a smooth sail down wind to Tongue Bay. The evening was spent chatting with fellow crew members before going to sleep in the hull.
The morning wake call of the Anchor being winched up sounded far worse than any alarm clock and ensured that we were out of bed first and looking at the approach to one of the premier icons of the Whitsundays, Whitehaven beach. Sadly the overcast conditions meant that we didn't enjoy it in its full glory.
After two hours relaxing on the beach it was all aboard for Narra Inlet. We enjoyed scuba diving, appreciating the reef and fish, although we both felt spoilt from our previous experience in Port Douglas.
We moured just around the corner from here to take in the sunset and made sure that all the alcohol that everyone had brought on board was finished.
Our final morning saw us wake up to clouds and no wind, which meant we where disappointedly unable to sail back to Airlie Beach. After breakfast and a few cups of coffee we headed over to Langford Beach. With us arriving at low tide it meant that we could walk along the full beach and taking the various stones and shells that lied beautifully on the beach.
Although we where reluctant to snorkel here, shouts from our Yorkshire crew members of "Turtle, turtle" had us both rushing into our wet suits and grabbing our gear quicker than you can say Yorkshire pudding! Not realising the coldness of the water we spent ten minutes chasing this little creature around the bay, before the little turtle got fed up of people swimming after him and laid to rest under a piece of coral.
We climbed on board and after lunch Sam enjoyed one final snorkel at Horse-shoe bay before we motored back to Abel Point Marina.
As we came in to the Marina we both felt very relaxed and refreshed. The thought of a nice cold beer was very appealing to us both and with the tour company providing us with a few free jugs of beer we were keen not to miss out.
However we failed to realise that the last ferry back to our accommodation was already leaving as we arrived back from the tour! We where stuck with 3 days dirty clothes and no where to stay. With our bus tickets non-refundable for the next day, Daydream Island had quickly turned to Nightmare Island!
We booked into a hostel in Airlie beach and took consolidation with the complimentary beers that we shared with three entertaining Irish lads, after a trip to the local night club along with a few more beers we fell straight to sleep.
With sore heads, the next day was not a particularly memorable one. We met up with our Irish friend for a much needed fry up breakfast before saying our goodbyes.
Then, as E-J relaxed on the beach with a magazine and a smoothie, Sam had the task of catching a ferry and picking up the bags from Nightmare Island without any refund. Reunited at 4pm, E-J having had a rather pleasant day and Sam struggling with all the bags, we prepared as well as we could for the 14 hour bus journey which would take us down to Hervey Bay.
Sam's comments: I really enjoyed my time on the boat, I suppose our travel organising skills are a bit rusty!
E-J's Comments: Too bad about our idea of spending the money wisely... We were lucky to have a good group of people on the boat, just shame about the weather. I guess it means we'll just have to return another time. The night out in Airlie Beach was a good laugh though.