After breakfast Monday morning, we stowed our baggage in the YHA storage locker and walked over to Abell Point Marina to meet our boat for our Whitsundays sailing trip. It was a hot start to the day, so we enjoyed a cold drink while waiting for all of the passengers to assemble. One pair did not show, so there were four people on the trip, plus some young guys training as crew. All told there were 11 of us on board the Eureka II, a 60-foot sailing yacht. We boarded and waited a bit longer for that missing pair, but they never showed, so we finally set out of the harbor. The crew, Andrin (a Swiss) and Niels (a Dutchman), as well as our captain Mal (a salty Australian) introduced themselves and gave us a little orientation to living on a boat.
Because of the heat, we all struggled to stay in what little shade was available on the boat. After motoring for a while, we first got dropped off at a place called Saba Bay to swim and cool off at its little beaches. This was our first introduction to swimming in stinger suits. The tropical waters of the north eastern coast of Australia are home to some potentially lethal jelly fish, and these full body lycra suits let us swim reasonably safely. After our swim at Saba Bay, we motored over to a little coral reef nearby and did some snorkeling. We saw beautiful corals and lots of tropical fish. Fantastic! Afterwards, more motoring, then dinner, darkness and an awful night’s sleep in the cabin. The night never really cooled off much and inside our cabin it was hellish.
After a terrible night of sleep, I woke up Tuesday morning with a slightly swollen bottom lip and feeling rather poorly. I thought I may have had an allergic reaction to something, maybe the latex of the snorkel? We took the dinghy over to Hamilton Island and were dropped off for a few hours of exploring. A short hike up to the high point of the island gave us great views of Whitehaven beach, which is arguably the most visited place in the Whitsundays, and for very good reason. Soft white, sugary sand and clear blue water—really one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
Because of the heat, Alan and I spent nearly the entire time lounging in the water. Around noon, we returned to the boat for lunch and then motored to a new snorkeling spot. The water was very cloudy from algae growing thickly, and my lip felt much worse, so I didn’t spend much time in the water. As everyone was returning to the boat from snorkeling, a few large batfish showed up and Alan swam around with them. We motored to Sunset Bay for dinner and anchorage overnight.
More photos from Whitehaven beach:
Wednesday I woke up after another terrible night of sleep with an even fatter lip, so I opted to stay under cover as much as I could, while everyone snorkeled. On top of that, I’ve got a head cold too. Captain Mal was convinced that I just had a bad sunburn, and I think he was probably right. It was just surprising that my lip was so bad, while the rest of me wasn’t burnt too badly. It just goes to show how everything needs sunscreen, especially when you are out on the water where there’s nowhere to hide from the sun. Alan’s little camera is waterproof, so he took it with him snorkeling and took some terrific pictures and video of the underwater scenery.
Alan’s snorkeling photos:
The last two days have been quite still, but the wind picked up considerably as the morning wore on. After lunch we returned to Abell Point Marina under full sail. Eureka II operates as a racing yacht, in addition to doing tours, and she is a fast boat. It was quite exhilarating as Captain Mal put the training crew through some maneuvers on our way back to port.
More photos under sail:
The Whitsundays sailing trip was fun, but the hot weather was nearly unbearable. Back on land, we made it back to the Airlie Beach YHA. On the way, I stopped at a pharmacy to pick up some cold medicine and the pharmacist assured me that she thought my lip was just sunburnt, as well. We cranked up the air-conditioning in our room and ordered a pizza before falling into bed early for a good night’s sleep.
Thursday and Friday were lazy days for us, since I wasn’t feeling great. My head cold and sunburnt lip took a while to subside, so it helped to snooze and watch some TV. Today we checked out of the YHA and took a shuttle to the Proserpine Airport, to fly back to Brisbane. Back in the capital of Queensland, we’re staying at the Brisbane City YHA for several days. Somehow, I’ve gotten an infection in the middle toe of my right foot; I’m going to have to find a way to see a doctor before we leave for Thailand next week!