Although it was supposed to be the beginning of an epic sea faring adventure, the day started of pretty relaxed. A bit of e-mailing, shopping, book swapping and 'goon' purchasing and by 2pm I was ready to board 'Tongarra', a catamaran which was to become my home for the next two days and two nights. They call it the fastest red boat on the Whitsunday's, but I have a sneaky suspicion it is because it the only RED boat out there.
There are hundreds of boats to choose from to do the sail around the Whitsundays. The reason I went with Tongarra was because she was fairly cheap (though not the budget option) and she had fewer passengers. The infamous 'Clipper' had 50 passengers, a slide, Jacuzzi and was renowned for being the party boat. I had been informed the previous night that the majority of the contents of the Jacuzzi were not water and that although there were enough beds for there to be one per person, there always seemed to be at least half of them going spare...
I am personally not a fan of dirty bubbles and I would quite like to keep my bed as my own so 'Tongarra' it was.
The boat itself was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. There was supposed to be enough space for 22 passengers and 2 crew members but when we went below deck I could only see six beds... and they were soon covered by all our bags and beach towels. I wasn't concerned however as the boat was afloat and that was the most important thing. Also, if there are no beds then there is no bed swapping. Right?
Our crew was made up of Mick (skipper) and Bradon (cook, guide, party liaison). Mick, once again, reminded me of a drugged up and smiley version of Jack Sparrow, whilst Bradon was in a word 'excitable'. I have never seen anyone scream, jump about, punch the air and holler as much as him. He was friendly and funny enough but I think he had been out at sea a little too long.
As soon as we were all on board we had a two and a half hour sail out to 'Tongue Bay'. Plenty of time to get to know our shipmates. The group was divided into two fairly early on. There was a British group made up of Bristonian nurses and couples and then my group - all the foreigners. Michelle (School Guidance Counsellor from San Francisco) and I got on like a house on fire. Peter and Aksel Bang (two friends from Denmark) kept us laughing the whole way out, Sabine (a nanny from Austria) became my partner in goon and the lovely Georgie and Sylvain (an Aussie/French couple) made sure we were all happy, smiley and comfortable from the getgo.
There was no snorkelling planned for the first night so we were allowed to party a little as long as we stopped 8hours before we went into the sea. I am sure that being sick in your snorkel is not a whole lot of fun.
While we socialised and played card games, Bradon made the most incredible dinner for all of us. Barbecued fish with mash, homemade coleslaw and salad with the softest tastiest bread I have ever had. (Side note: so far the Aussies have the best coffee and bread I have ever had. FACT) I managed two huge helpings.
The rest of the night was just a laugh. Aksel disappeared for 10minutes and then came over to Peter and I looking extremely concerned. I thought he had maybe seen a shark or dropped his camera over the side until he cried out in his very sweet British/Danish accent, 'Guys I do not mean to freak you out, but where the f*** is the moon?' Poor little thing! We found it half an hour later and we have seen it since so there is no need to panic.
The night was incredible. I spent most of it watching Michelle try to chat up Mick and getting nothing but a spare pillow and just staring at the stars. Now I do not claim to be good at spotting constellations but I managed to pick out loads that night. Orion's belt was my favourite. I stared at the sky most of the night whilst being rocked by the waves. I also discovered that our sleeping arrangements were to sleep on the deck. HEAVEN! That meant that I got a nice mattress, a comfy pillow (no blankets necessary as it was BOILING hot all night and most people slept in their pants (not as sexy as it sounds)) and I got to just stare at the sky to my heart's content. That was until they put the tarp up over the front in case it was to rain. We were all sorely disappointed and it didn't even rain that night but I managed to find a spot on the edge of the deck where I could still see a sliver of sky and get fanned by the cool sea breeze. Very sweet dreams.