So we left you with the promise of a salty tale, and gosh darn it that's what you'll get!! We had to be at the docks of Airlie Beach at 1.30 on Friday 5th March for our sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands. After some safety briefing etc we set sail (tell a lie, there was no wind so we turned on the engine!) and started on our way. Our captain was a scurvy old sea-dog called Greg who didn't like having bananas on his boat. The two other crew members were Mel the cook, who seemed furious to begin with but lightened up after some ring of fire, and Phil who was in charge of fun and such things. And of course 25 paying customers at the mercy of their ship! It took until around 6 o'clock to get to the place we would be casting anchor for the night and it was smooth sailing with beautiful clear skies all the way. After a BBQ dinner with some exquisite steak and potato salad (nothing on you Maz!) we played some games and drunk a lot of very cheap box wine which goes by the name of "goon" in Australia. We managed to nab a pretty sweet cabin but it was definitely too hot when it came to bedtime, so everyone slept out on deck on some roll mats and actually slept OK.
We were woken up at 5.45 the next morning for breakfast so we could "maximise the daylight" as the captain put it, which seemed like a good idea but was not a lot of fun to begin with. Our first venture was a stop off at Whitehaven Beach which was a s close to paradise as you can get (that is before we went to McKenzie Lake on Fraser Island, which is actually paradise!). The sand is 99% silicon and it was rumored that NASA pilfered it to make their telescope lenses before it was turned in to national park, don't you know! Tom was made to scrub his feet etc. as it was "such an excellent natural loafer" and his feet were acceptable for another week!
Due to the murderous nature of Australia's animals we had to wear stinger suits to mask our electrical output from the jellyfish, this also meant fish would swim very close without caring, and could have freaked Kez out to the point of asthma attack and maybe even tantrum...however she was the model of poise & calm and Tom couldn't have been more proud!! A cheeky bonus was that the stinger suits also made us look like we were from Star Trek which was pretty cool.
After we had enjoyed 3 hours on Whitehaven Beach it was 9.30 and after a bit more sailing we found ourselves at Mantaray Bay to do some snorkeling on the coral reefs. We saw some sharks and massive fish that at you and are fairly scary. One more stop and we dropped anchor at Ship-wreck Bay to do some more snorkeling. Tom managed to swim with a turtle here whilst touching its shell, and despite it not having nunchucks and a head band he still enjoyed the experience greatly!!
Dinner on our second night was some pasta and salad which was much needed after our snorkeling. O and for some reason in this day of equality where women have to vote etc., the boys still had to wait for all the girls to get their food first (there were a lot of girls!) and Tom thought this was a prime example of them having their cake and eating it. Luckily there was plenty to go around so not too many complaints! After dinner we all played some games up on deck, one of which was the box game. This involved a cardboard cereal box with the top ripped off. The aim was to pick up the box with your mouth and with nothing but your feet touching the deck. This is actually very hard, and after each round the box is torn so it gets shorter and therefore harder to retrieve with your groping lips!! Also the punishment for failing this game was a spank with a fin. El capitan got down first to demonstrate and the old duffer did it every round, right up until the point at which it was flush to the deck and it had to be sucked up!! To our surprise Kerri made it all the way to the end, and even more of a surprise, so did Tom, if not with groins of fire as our only reward!
Foolishly we attempted to sleep in our cabin on our last night with the result being Tom roused from his sweaty slumber by Kerri gasping for air, and claiming she was "actually going to die". Anyway after this initial overreaction we moved up on to the deck but unfortunately there were no roll mats left so we had to sleep directly on the metal deck...not a great sleep but its OK because we had to get up again at 5.45 for our last snorkel trip. We were lucky to have sunshine for our whole trip, as the day before it had been stormy and lots of sea-sickness tablets would have been needed! We headed back to Airlie Beach and arrived at about 11 o'clock. We had a brilliant time and met lots of cool people, also Tom might want to be a pirate now! After we got off the boat, the rocking motion that we had compensated for whilst aboard now meant we were swaying from side to side on solid ground...this lasted for three days and made it quite hard to walk in a straight line! Our bus wasn't until 6pm so we got some much needed sleep at the lagoon at Airlie Beach!
Next stop: Rainbow Beach and 4X4 off road driving on Fraser Island!
T and K!