Sailing around the Whitsundays

The Whitsundays are a group of remote islands just out from Airlie. They were named by Captain Cook as he sailed past them on Whitsunday. (Or so he thought, but he had forgotten to take account of the international date line he had just crossed.) We arrived on the sailing boat Soverign, and motored out to sea. It was as calm as a mill pond. Well, not quite, but there was not enough wind to use the sails except for once on the second day, so we used the engines for the whole 2 1/2 days. Never mind - the scenery made up for it. The sun was beaming down all the time, and there was little more to do on deck than sit in the sun and chat, so my sun tan improved dramatically.

We stopped at a few snorkelling places where the coral was pretty good, but the visibility was really bad because we were close to land. Whitehaven beach has to be one of the best in the world. It is certainly the best I have ever seen, and thankfully, no sign of development anywhere close. It is one of those places that looks better in real life than on the postcards. We returned on the third day at 10am.

You have to read the small print on all of these 3 day sailing trips. They are almost all 2 and a bit day trips. Talking to the others on the trip, I discovered that some paid under $200, but most paid the quoted $200 and received a free meal or free night from the hostel. I paid the $200 to Bush Village and they didn't give me anything free. It pays to shop around. And it is essential to book through a hostel in Airlie beach, even if you do it by phone. They are much friendlier to you if you do that - and provide free baggage storage and lifts to the Marina.

I got the overnight (12 hour) bus down to Hervey Bay. This wasn't a bad idea as it saved one nights accommodation, but I didn't manage to get much sleep. I should really have taken a sleeping bag, or a pillow or something.