In August 2016 the Aussie and I went on my first sailing trip for a week around the Whitsunday Islands. I realised looking back over my blog that I have never shared the photos I took during that trip so wanted to do so as it was a wonderful first sailing holiday experience.
Our trip began by flying from Darwin to Brisbane and as you probably know I fell immediately in love with Brisbane and we now live there! The next day we flew from Brisbane to Airlie beach where we stayed for two nights and explored the area a bit. It was a lovely touristy spot full of great places to eat and the usual tourist activities.
We set sail on the Monday on a catemeran called Mango a Tango from Abell Point Marina after a lengthy induction. The induction was amusing as it assumed no knowledge of sailing but three of our six person crew were very proficient sailors!
We motored out of the marina and across to Cyd Harbour for dinner at dusk. There were a couple of other boats moored in the area and it was the perfect spot to test my new underwater camera, although I mainly took photos of the underside of the Cat and the snorkelling gear we had hired.
In the morning we woke up to beautiful views of the harbour which was really just a beautiful mountain and enjoyed breakfast.
The next morning we went across to Hamilton Island which is a bit of a playground for the rich and famous, the Aussie and one of the other couples and I got in the dinghy and hit the island to pick up supplies. It was race week for the boats and so thee were cameras around. We had to try and get from the dinghy on to the jetty in the most dignified way we could. Not sure we managed it to be honest!
Hamilton Island was surrounded by expensive boats including the famous Wild Oats yacht which competes in the Sydney to Hobart race every year as well as nice hotels and golf buggies which took the residents everywhere! It’s a place I wouldn’t mind visiting for a night or two just for the experience.
Back to the Cat and we went and headed across to Turtle Bay where we were treated to a mum and baby whale swimming pretty closely to our boat which was amazing.
We also went past the infamous Whitehaven Beach and navigated some whirlpool type features in the middle of the stretch of water which was pretty exciting but meant you held on really tightly!
At Turtle Bay we anchored the boat and relaxed reading, taking photographs, eating great food and watching the sunset.
The Aussie and I also ventured to shore in the dinghy and had a swim / snorkel and walk along the beach which was lovely. I discovered that my ability to snorkel and suck in water through my mouth was not 100% effective but I loved seeing the coral reef and swimming around the area. The weather that time of year was a bit chilly being the middle of winter so it was tough getting warm again because the hot water supply on the boat was modest and so there was lots of snuggling up in blankets whilst the sun went down.
Saba Bay was our next stop and it was a bit of a case of eat, sleep, read repeat! It was pretty idyllic. We did unsuccessfully try some fishing here which had us wondering what we would actually do if we managed to catch anything (the girls that is).
That night there was also an emergency on another boat where a lady on another boat called in and said her friend had been injured. It was pitch black at this point and a Dr on another boat ride to locate her for quite some time. Thankfully the situation was not as bad as it first seemed but it was a bit worrying for us.
The next day we were warned that a storm was coming through the islands and so we decided to head to Maureen’s Cove which would hopefully be a bit more sheltered.
This was the only day I actually felt sea sick and I think it was because of the storm and the fact we were slept downstairs in our cabins. In the end I took a sea sickness tablet and slept up in the living room area and was fine. The storm was a bit wild, especially being on a boat in the middle of it but we and the boat survived a bit weary but happy that it had passed.
We then spent the next two nights at South Stonehaven which was the perfect decision. The Aussie and I went out in the dinghy and with me hanging over the edge of the dinghy I was able to take my favourite photos of the trip, of the coral. The colours were so bright and vivid and it’s hard to believe they are true!
We also just enjoyed relaxing, I read several books during the trip and because we had barely any phone signal so it was the ideal situation to fully switch off. The sunsets here were gorgeous.
On the last night we headed back in to Airlie Beach for the night. Two of our crew had to be back on the mainland early so they could get back for their flight early the next morning. Again the Aussie and two of our crew and I took the dinghy in to the harbour and had a wander around the shops looking for souvenirs and a quick lunch stop before our final night began.
Both the sunset and sunrise were stunning surrounded by millions of dollars of yachts it was the ideal end to our break.
If you want to try sailing and to explore the Great Barrier Reef, bare boating is a good way to do it. You receive an induction and the charter company is always at the end of the radio if needed. You also have to call in morning and night to say where you are heading and because they know the area so well they can give you advice where required.
Our boat was a comfortable eight bed catermeran with three bathrooms, a big galley and outdoor area for eating and relaxing. There was a full kitchen and BBQ for all your cooking needs and plenty of storage room for your trip supplies.
We had no phone signal for much of the trip and so did have to switch of and just unwind.
Our cat was a bit big for actual sailing but we gave it a go where we could and it was a lot of fun actually sailing the boat.
All in all it was an ideal first sailing trip and experience of the Great Barrier Reef.