Whitsunday Islands

Woke up this morning feeling quite rested but very apprehensive about the trip. We pack up our stuff and catch the bus to the pier at Airlie Beach for 8.30. We’ve been told not to take too much gear, but despite this have got enough snacks to feed us for the next 3 days if they forget dinner.

The Captain of “Whitsunday Passage” is called Rowan and the crew are Oscar and Jason. Oscar is an Irish girl who just got off the boat yesterday having done the same trip as we are doing and Jason a friend of Rowans, an experienced skipper of motor boats out to learn some sailing skills. Rowan tells me he has been sailing since he was 3, grew up on a boat and was almost completely home schooled by his parents on the boat. As he usually captains this trip alone without any crew I’m not too concerned about the relative inexperience of Oscar and Jason. There are only 2 other guests a German couple, Nadine and her boyfriend who is immediately christened Princess.

The weather is breezy, excellent sailing weather we’re told and before long we help raise the main and head sails and we’re off. Flying! It’s absolutely amazing, exhilarating and scary. The boat tips far to the side and we get splashed a lot but it’s fantastic! We’re doing nearly 12 knots in no time and Rowan has to reduce the main sail a bit to slow us down. The kids are completely green within minutes and have to sit on the deck with their faces in the wind, gazing across to the horizon and gobbling their Kwells down.

The waves are really big and Rowan explains that it will take about an hour to get to the place where we will be snorkelling for the afternoon. We have a chance to explore the boat, which doesn’t take long. There are 3 double cabins and 4 single birth beds, a small kitchen area and toilet. The safety talk included a discussion about blocking the toilet, something that will apparently almost constitute an emergency on board and I think we all make up our minds it won’t be one of us 4 that makes that unfortunate mistake!

We arrive at the snorkelling site but there’s no way I’m going in.( Too cold) Instead Rowan takes us across to the beach and we have a wander around whilst waiting for the tide to drop further. When it does, the reef is exposed and we have the opportunity to walk along the rocks of the reef and examine the coral close up. There are lots of different types and we see some clams and starfish also.

After a great dinner of BBQ kangaroo steaks, salad and potato salad washed down with a few wines, Jason and Rowan set up their fishing lines. The aim is to catch something big and Maisie has caught a Bat Fish in no time. The fish are literally jumping onto the lines and they throw loads back even though they are over a couple of feet long as its illegal to keep them unless they’re over a certain size. They explain they always throw fish back unless they are going to be eaten or used as bait.

Off to bed now. Simon and I are sleeping in the cabin right in the bow and the noise of the water splashing all around; the lack of space and the damp sheets make me think we probably won’t get a great nights sleep .Fingers crossed, can’t cope with tiredness as well as salty hair.