Airlie Beach is the main town where you stay before setting off on the Whitsundays adventure. The Greyhound bus took us from Townsville down to Airlie in about 6 hours. On arrival we checked into our new hostel and then explored the town. It is a tiny resort, purpose made for backpackers.
Our roomates tonight were a group of German boys who soon convinced Steve to have a drink with them on the balcony before we set off into town to meet the Brighton girls, Mitch and two other girls we had met in Cape Tribulation. Steve still instists that he had one drink with the boys but they were drinking homemade whisky and before leaving the hostel Steve was very much on his way.
After a few drinks with the gang we decided that it was about time that we hit a nightclub called Mamma Africa's. This was a small club with excellent house music which Jackie loved and Steve cannot remember. The night ended with a drunken yet fully clothed dip in the lagoon, oh and a McDonalds, Steve needed sobering up.
We had a free day in Airlie the next day before getting reading for our booked Whitsundays sailing adventure. We went back to the lagoon, this time appropriately dressed and spent the day relaxing and cooling off in the water which was a feat in itself as the water was over 30 degrees c.
The following day we set off to meet the other 23 people that would make up the 25 aboard the Matador sailing boat. The Matador apparently launched in May 1990 and outclassed her opposition, competing in 52 races, 8 regattas and two Maxi World Championships undefeated. At 24.9m in length, Matador is the laregest International Ocean Racing maxi yacht ever built and we were going to spend two nights and three days sailing past and around some of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays.
Having never been on a boat before, we were both excited about what this may offer and before we knew it we had left the harbour and were on our way. We cruised out for the first couple of hours before Stevehad to join the rest of the boys on board in pulling up the gigantic sails to really see what this boat was made to do. Luckily, there were some larger boys than Steve on the boat to help pull the sail up. At one stage Steve's feet were completely off the floor and the pulley system was winching Steve up the sail. Having said that it was definately a boy's job and it took 14 blokes nearly ten mins to get the sail up, much to the amusement of the crew and the girls.
The girls were next with the front sail, putting the boys to shame getting it up very quickly indeed and then the boat was practically on its side, cutting through the water at pace. Although a great experience, this made sailing rather uncomfortable with 25 of us all having to sit one side of the boat as the other skimmed the water. However, within a few hours the wind died down and were were cruising to the little bay where we snorkelld for a good hour in our stinger suits before moving to the locatioion where the boat would anchor and we would sleep the night - on the boat.
This was not a good nights sleep. The boats sleeping quarters were far from luxurious and despite having a double bed for the first time in ages, the boat was open planned and we were stuck right next to the toilet, which with 25 people using and with body heat and humidity, kicked up something rotten.
Before setting off, everyone was encouraged to go to the bottle shop to stock up on alcohol for three days. Steve stuck to VB beer, where Jackie ventured into unknown territories, buying a box of "goon". Now goon is wine, but it is aussie slang for a cheap box of wine, which only ever tastes nice when mixed with a touch of blackcurrant cordial. However, she was not alone. Everyone on the boat had a mixture of goon and beer - so straight into the drinking games we went.
Despite the boat being crewed by four people including a grumpy skipper called Gary, they were not up for entertaining us, which meant that we had to do our best to pull everyone together and get everyone drunk. We had a mixture of nationalities that we were sharing with including a dutch couple, Jim and Chris, who we became good friends with and you will no doubt hear about later, a few more Dutch (they are everywhere) a few Germans, a group of English girls from Bournemouth and a few other English. Before we knew it we were all playing games, including a few that we did not know before. Be warned, these are good games and there is no doubt that we will bringing these back with us to inflict pain on you all.
There were quite a few sore heads the following morning when we were woken at 6am. The only way to get over a hangover is to stick your wetsuit back on and throw yourself off the springboard back into the ocean off the side of the boat. After half an hour of fun it was time for breakfast before moving off again to Whitehaven Beach, where we were ferried to the shore to explore one of the worlds most beautiful beaches. Despite being a little overcast, it was still a fantastic beach which squeaked under your feet as you walked on it. The sand is so fine it can be used to exfoliate which was great for the girls.
Back on the boat we set off for more snorkelling. The reef here was again out of this world, but I bet you are bored off our reef stories, but to say that there were shark fins above the water before we jumped in - scary stuff indeed.
That night the host cooked roast beef on the boat. If you saw the size of the kitchen it would have made Gordon Ramsey proud. We still do not know how she pulled this off but the food was amazing. Post dinner the drinking games commenced with England v Rest of the World charades. Despite the language barrier, the ROW were fantastic at thsi game and the result was tighter than we thought it would be - but of course we won. That was followed by a new game - "My Little Piggy" which involved a blown up empty wine bag and a series of rules which led to more drinking or various forfeits. Everyone was up for a big night, anything to avoid sleeping in the "dungeon" beneath, being drunk would ensure passing out and not suffering with the heat or the smell.
We sailed back to the mainland the following day which concludes our Whitsundays tour.
Despite being uncomfortable 95% of the time and the poor sleeping conditions, we did enjoy our sailing adventure mainly because of the great group that we spent the three days with, but by now we were tired and needed a rest before we went on our next organised tour - Frazer Island.