A 5 day charter: Mission – To sail and explore previously unvisited waters, to test and train guests, to drink, eat and enjoy sunsets.

 

18 Apr 14

Our guests clamber aboard – Basha the unruly, Mark the commodore, Rob the quiet achiever, Julia the photographer, Hanna the…well….Hanna, John the observer, Sue the…there was a Sue onboard? Jenny the bow queen.  It’s mid morning and after the safety brief and housekeeping rules I’m promptly told where to go……South and “full sail there skipper!”

The winds are light, the seas untroubled and we motor sail most of the way, we anchor at Lindeman Island early afternoon and the gang proceed to jump in the water, crack the champagne and start baiting hooks.

Rob volunteers to take some people ashore, and as he heads back towards the boat I see him take to the oars……….the tide is not in his favour and the wind is only helping his speed……oh well, I wanted to move the boat anyway ;) . We up anchor and rescue Rob, smile and give him a beer.  The skipper jumps down to the dingy and has a look…….does a Fonzie tap on the engine and it fires into life.

All are back aboard for sunset, out come the nibbles and perhaps a few top ups in the beverage department…….absolutely horrible……striking colours in the sunset like the sun had been smudged through the sky, tropical islands silhouetted in the background, white sandy beach, palm trees, food, wine, the bay all to ourselves……..who would want to be here…..?

19 Apr 14. 

Hello the Phantom Cave – this cave is really a tunnel, a hole in the island, broken coral beach on one side and waves washing over rocks on the other – Lunch stop!

A few Red Throated Emperor are caught off the back, the beach is explored – where next? A look at the chart and a finger in the air – “let’s head for Thomas Island”.

The wind is up a bit and we get plenty of sailing done in the afternoon making it just in time for sunset!

A beautiful spot, once we found a place that the anchor held …… third try is the charm.

20 Apr 14

After a slightly rolly night the gang stirs to the smell of the Skippers freshly ground coffee.

A few go ashore for a bit of beach fossicking but the commodore and party are always eager to be under sail. It’s time to go to Hamilton Island; we set sail downwind with the helm changing hands a few times and four hours later…..Hamilton :)

The gang head ashore and restock some of their beverages – no one ever packs enough (hint to future guests), enjoy a shower that has unlimited hot water and for some reason remark on facilities that flush instead of whir…….go figure

“Time to go to Whitehaven beach” they say, off we go …….hmmm, the wind is almost on the nose and the tide is against us.  Motor sail it is.  Julia decides to grab the front seat – best seat on the boat…..a titanic moment……she seems to be reveling in the salt spray, the bow raising and plunging into the waves……as Julia found out – this can induce seasickness!

After an hour and a half of sailing we are in the lee of the island and the water is calm and has flattened out, as we round the corner of Solway Passage and Whitehaven comes into view I take this moment to remind the ladies that they are, in fact, being sailed into the sunset ……. for those romantic nuts out there ;)

Mark brings out Nelsons Blood (bottle of rum) and once more we partake in the evening sunset with…..oh dear….ho hum…. more white sandy beaches, palm trees, turquoise waters and tropical island backdrops…..

21 Apr 14

The skipper wakes the gang early for sunrise as Whitehaven Beach can be spectacular in the morning sun, it’s just a shame the clouds showed up this time. They head downstairs in the dawn light slightly disappointed, the skipper starts on his second cup of coffee……“Jenny ….. get up here now!”, Jenny looks up through the companion way and mouths “camera?”, the clouds part, the mountains become emerald green, the water translucent and the beach, well, come see it for yourself!  Everyone swims ashore, plays on the beach; they find a cricket set, take photos and enjoy the sun.

Always in search of that postcard shot, we head to the lookout at Tongue Bay; it’s the bottom of the tide so getting ashore is just a little tricky over the corals and rocks, the walk to the lookout is short but peaceful through a small rainforest path.  The view is ……well a picture says a thousand words.

As they climb back aboard the boat they say “Well Skipper, you’ve sailed us, provided isolated bays, sea caves, a morning to remember and the postcard shot – it’s about time you lifted your game! We want to snorkel with loads of fish!” – Blue Pearl Bay here we come!

C’mon, you don’t really expect me to write about Blue Pearl Bay? Premiere dive and snorkel site in the Whitsundays? – google it

The anchorage is a bit crowded so we head off for a more secluded spot without the backpacker party boat blaring music. Nelsons Blood and a few other beverages appear and gradually disappear after being enjoyed…..Mark won’t stop fishing until he catches a shark…….

22 Apr 14

We up anchor and head to one of my favourite islands – Black Is or Bali Hai – it’s small, you can probably walk around it in half an hour, it has a beach, rocks, small cliffs, a variety of birds and snorkelling.

A small hop later and we are moored up in front of Langford – a beautiful sand bar island with fringing reef.

Lunch done and the wind is most definitely up! Downstairs is secured, hatches shut, wet weather gear on, to be clear, it’s not raining this is in anticipation of the salt spray, we set out to head home. Hamilton Island is reporting wind gusts to 28kts, skipper only puts up a third of the genoa and about half the mainsail…….”woohooo” 9kts of boat speed, the gunnel is kissing the water, there’s spray throughout the cockpit and we’re as close to the wind as possible…..that’s sailing!

A parting comment: The guest’s commented at the beginning of the trip that “we came to sail not eat”, a comment made by them at the end was “that’s some of the best food we have ever had!” So our undying gratitude to Juliette, our French Hostess for full bellies and unwanted weight.

 

 

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