Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sailing in the Whitsundays

When we couchsurfed in Bundaberg and we told our hosts we were heading north they suggested we message a couchsurfer in Airlie Beach who has a sailboat. They had heard that he sometimes took couchsurfers out for a sail in the Whitsunday Islands, a group of 74 islands in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. We thought it was worth a shot so we sent him a message before continuing north in our van.

From Bundaberg, we spent the morning at the beautiful beach at Bagara and then checked out the sea turtle nesting grounds at Mon Repos. The turtles weren't quite there yet (plus they only come in at night) but it was neat to read about them and see the beach where 90% of all female loggerhead turtles lay their eggs.

After spending the night at a camping rest stop right along a river we drove the next day into the town of Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Airlie Beach is fairly developed but a cute town. It's full of backpackers and travelers. We spent the first day lounging around, playing Scrabble and reading. It was beautiful and relaxing.

Later, when we checked our e-mail, the couchsurfer with the boat, Joe, e-mailed us back and said he couldn't promise anything but he might be heading out for a sail in the next few days if we were hanging around. We met up with him for dinner at the lagoon and met him, three other couchsurfers (a German, Austrian and Australian) he was hosting on his boat as well as this other couchsurfer John who owns a catamaran. John was also hosting an American couchsurfer. There were also two Swedish travelers who joined us for dinner. It was quite the motley crew.

We parted company that night and Joe said he'd text us in the morning if he was going sailing. In the morning he sent us a text and said he was going out for an overnight sail but he had to be back by 10am the next day. We said, sure we'd go! We packed a little food, our bathing suits and met him at his boat. It turned out to be a 52 foot sailboat (I couldn't even get the whole boat in the picture from the dock!)

Together with the three other couchsurfers we sailed into the Whitsunday Islands. It was beautiful! We sailed through some islands stopping for the night in this cove to enjoy an incredible sunset.

Later, John and his catamaran found us and we moored together to have a two boat party. The next day Joe told us he thought we'd stay out for another night which although fine with us, was a bit worrisome as we didn't bring very much food. Plus, the three girl couchsurfers didn't have much food either. But, the next day we sailed over to Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven beach, which was probably one of the prettiest beaches we've ever seen. The sand is extremely white and super pure - it's so fine that your feet sink several inches in and if you rub it on silver it polishes the silver!

We climbed Whitsunday peak on top of the island and had views into Hill inlet which is the picture you see most often when seeing postcards of the Whitsundays.

Then we sailed over to a great snorkeling spot and swam with tons of fish. Joe threw bread (and tuna) into the water which got the fish riled up into a frenzy. Then we sailed across the bay as it got dark and actually sailed for a couple hours while it was dark. The wind was really blowing and it was a tad scary, especially since Joe was often down below while he left either me or Jaimee steering. Plus, he kept saying it was a "bit rocky" which in Australian means unsteady seas and not actually large rocks, although we didn't learn this until later!

We found a protective cove, made up an improv dinner using spagetti and pumpkin (it was pretty yummy actually). We did a long sail the next day back across the bay to Airlie Beach and arrived on land 60 hours after our departure. Even back on land we kept thinking it was rocky as we were so used to swaying on the water.

Today we start the long drive (900 miles) back to Brisbane to pick up Michelle before heading on to Melbourne. Here are the links to the two albums we've posted so far:
Australian Roadtrip Part I

Sailing the Whitsundays

1 comment:

  1. AMAZING! You guys are sooo lucky! Sounds like you guys are having a great time and meeting lots of wonderful people.


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