Having left Townsville we headed for Airlie beach – a very touristy place which appears to centre around foam parties and wet t-shirt contests. We quickly avoided this and dived on the boat going out the next day. We checked our luggage into storage and then Mel’s shell flipflops snapped and so she ended up walking to and from the marina (4km) in bare feet and so had blisters on her feet from the heat!
We sailed on Condor with Prosail – a maxi yacht which won most of the races twice in the 80s. Nowadays it has only 3 crew instead of 10 and is crammed with 26 tourists! However it was a very enjoyable experience where we got the best of everything – snorkelling, sailing, sunsets and wildlife. The crew were fab and made sure everyone got the experience they wanted. For the first night we moored at hook island and enjoyed the evening watching the squid dance around in the torchlight. The cabin was boiling unlike Magnums ultra efficient and freezing air con! The next morning we snorkelled at Mackerel bay which was excellent – best snorkelling we have seen on the GBR and better that reef teach had now taught us how to recognise things. We then did some serious sailing with some very extreme 45’ angles. We only reached 12 knots which is less than half the speed Condor would do in the races. We saw dolphins and turtles and a shark! We headed to Whitehaven beach for lunch and went on shore for a cricketish game – our team lost (mainly I feel to us!). We were the only people on the beach because the swell was so great no other boats risked it! After an emergency reef was put in the sail (while trying to get 24 tourists to swap sides on the tacks) we had another good sail to Hook Straight. We had a great BBQ and Mel improved her French speaking to the French peeps on board!
We got back to Airlie at midday and spent most of the time by the lagoon and eating noodles whilst waiting for our midnight bus. Somehow we managed to watch the end of a ridiculous underwater film (called the abyss in case any of you are very bored!) where the hero was rescued by sea-angels after he learnt how to breathe under water! and then tried to get some sleep before the sun rose.