After a 12 hour bus journey through the night (not as bad as we first thought) we arrived at Airlie Beach to heavy rain! Instantly we were not in the best spirits, predicting that the boat trip would be rubbish with the rain. Our fears were later confirmed when we met up with two Canadian friends, Tyler and Aly, who had just returned from a two day two night, very wet boat trip . Their faces said it all!
On the Friday morning it was still raining and the boat trip was due to set sail that afternoon. The skies soon began to clear in the afternoon. We were armed with plenty of beer and travel sickness pills, as we thought it would be a very rough couple of days.
We were waiting in anticipation to board The Freight Train with Oz Sail (hmm.. the name didn't suggest good things). As we were escorted to the sailing boat we thought it was a joke! We were thinking how the hell are 13 people plus 4 crew members going to sleep on this; and this boat normally takes 18 people plus 4 crew on the trip. You should gave seen all of our faces as we descended the ladder to the inside. The bunk beds are extremely skinny and are around the sides of the boat in the kitchen. Then there is a slim walkway to the front of the boat with four supposedly double bunk beds. The toilets are falling to pieces. You couldn't sit on them or else you would be on the floor with the toilet and it's contents on your head! Oh and we could only have one 1minute shower a day, product free... Great! Then the snorkelling and diving equipment has definately seen better days.
After a couple of hours of travelling across the open waters of the Coral Sea, we anchored up at False Nara on Hook Island for a snorkel. Due to the jellyfish season fast approaching we had to wear stinger suits - so fetching! We thought we saw a turtle floating on the surface, it turned out to be dead! Poor thing! By this point the sun was gleaming, so thankfully the smile returned to James' face (it was hard work trying to lighten the mood that morning with Mr Grumpy Pants!). We then watched the sun go down whilst eating our dinner, anchored up at Hook Observatory at Hook Passage. We then drank the night away looking for stars, but it was still too cloudy. Well that was our excuse for avoiding the beds.
There was no chance of sleeping in when the engine was started. We were up at about 5.30am to watch the sunrise as we made our way to the Whitsunday Island, Tounge Bay. Along the way we were in luck, we saw living green turtles and loggerhead turtles. You can't tell the difference between the two unless you cut them open and see if they have green insides. Who the hell names a turtle based on their insides! At about 7am we anchored up and took the dingy boat over to the island of Hill Inlet. We walked through a lot of cobwebs to get to the lookout point over Whitehaven Beach (North side). What a view! The beach extends over 100 metres before you get to any level of depth. And the sun was glistening a pathway along the shallow waters, making the sea an amazing sky light blue colour. We then spent the next one and a half hours on the beach, paddling through the waters, and we saw a stingray and a baby reef shark! The sand is silica, pure White and extremely fine - it gets everywhere! There is really random currents, and so patches of the shallow sea had small White-horsed waves - pretty cool! Our skipper, Kevin, explained that he wanted us to get to Whitehaven early because at about 9am lots if other boats and a hell of a lot more people turn up spoiling the serenity of the view from the Hill Inlet lookout. And he was certainly right, easily 100 people were soon swamping the lookout and the beach by 9am. We were definately lucky to see it completely deserted. This was the only time we didn't have to wear the stinger suits. But all the boat loads of people that came in had them on - it just looked like a bunch of seals laying around. At 9.30am we headed back to the little beach we got dropped off at, to return to the boat. We anchored up at Lunchon Bay where most of us did a dive. The visibility was only 8metres because of the heavy rain breaking away the sediments off Hook Island. Diving is like second nature to us now. We went to 15.2metres for about 45minutes. The divemaster, Valia, took bread up her sleeves, so we were surrounded by many colourful fish. I don't think the coral here is as spectacular as the outer Great Barrier Reef. We saw these interesting, gigantic dark green coloured fish with huge teeth, tearing the coral off the rocks. No one could tell me the name of them! After lunch we went around to Mantaray Bay for more snorkelling and diving. James and I were happy to just do the one dive. And there is only so much snorkelling you can do before it gets repetitive. So we took the opportunity, whilst Kevin was in the dingy, to jump from the boat into the water, free of stinger suits. We felt so free! We soon got told off though. The fun was momentarily haltered whilst we got into the suits. James and I soon had all the lads on the boat jumping in too. We got some great schronized shots of us all, after James had recovered from landing legs akimbo - 'ouch my balls!'. Whilst being kids we saw Elvis, that's a very very big fish to me and you!
For the second evening we anchored up at The Caves. The stars were out tonight and the sunset was absolutely amazing - red and orange skies behind a cluster of clouds around the tops of the mountains in Airlie Beach.
Sunday morning we had a snorkel at The Caves before heading back to the harbour.
The boat trip was phenomenal, the food and snacks were delicious, the crew was great (well apart from Kevin being a bit of a slimy old man but pretty funny) and the boat, well everything super seeded it so it wasn't that much of an issue. Our group was brill which made the trip more enjoyable too.
Monday night all of us went for more food and beer, and James was pissed. He soon regretted it the next day.
We are both going to come back double our sizes - the amount of food we had on the boat trip was ridiculous. Well to be honest, we were indulging before we were back to the peasant way of life - soggy sarnies and noodles. We keep saying were going to go for a long overdue jog. I'm not sure if this will happen anytime soon..