|Firmly entrenched in the bacpacker must do list, sailing around the Whitsunday Islands seemed like a bloody good idea, especially if you went on a big old boat.
The most expensive of the East Coasters at $420 dollars, I booked late and at least saved $100 on the original price.
I picked the 'Derwent Hunter', a twin masted siling ship made in 1946. A lot more style than the modern Maxi Yachts and because yuo couldn't cart booze onboard, I hoped it would also be wanker-free (this turned out to be true)
Met at the Marina by a guy so Captain Ahab, I thought he must be joking: Sou'wester, oil skin hat, ponytail and eye patch. Sadly, this old dog didn't actually go on the boat with us. Shame; he'd have been good value no doubt.
It was raining too, not a good start.
It stayed that way too for most of the three days. The shock was that many of the other 18 souls aboard stayed below decks because of it. I thought instead that the pitching and rolling of the ship in the heavy swells was good fun.
Snorkelling was fun, and warmer to be in the sea (27 degrees) than shiver on deck in the rain. Saw much coral , a huge fish called Elvis (apparently) and a monster sea turtle. Excellent.
Sleeping wasn't easy: 'bed' was only 5mm longer than me and hot as hell below decks. Couldn't sleep above deck because somebody else had got there first and they snored louder than a Motorhead gig.
Some amusement provided by 4 jewish princesses who clearly were not on the planet. Unused to being told what to do, they ignored the Captain telling them to take showers of only 2 minutes and thus used all of the hot water. They spent much of the rest of the time either below deck or on it being decorative, but completely useless. One of them said she was writing a book along the lines of Shakespeare's Canterbury Tales. Now do you see? These people were all 23, well educated but with the intellect of a mouse mat. The worst part? Some day, they will probably be running/owning the company you work for. Be afraid.
Never got to the iconic sands of Whitehaven Beach. Was too rough and ship would've run aground. So pure are the grains, they were used to make the glass for the Hubble telescope.
Did make it onto another sand island, but literally 10 seconds after setting foot on it, it started pissing down and shortly after, I nearly sliced a huge piece of my foot off on some ridiculously sharp coral. Such fun.
Was sorry to get off the boat though when the end came. And not just because this was the first time in the three days that the Sun finally appeared.
Not wanting to spend anoth night in Airlie Beach, it was shortly after that I had the bright idea of catching the 2:30am Greyhound out of town. How stupid. The experience was to prove quite traumatic.