Our drive from Magnetic Island/Townsville was a very wet one, it rained practically the whole way down, and the fact that the driver felt the need to play 'rain songs' was not very uplifting!
We arrived in Airlie Beach in the evening (and yes it was raining!). We were staying in a hostel called Koalas, which doesn't have the best of reputations, but the room was basic enough for what we needed and we didn't actually see any bedbugs!
The Oz bus arranged a table at Beaches, where everyone from the bus met up for a few free beers (seeing as we've now acquired a taste for beer!). We had a really good night and everyone was looking forward to their sailing trips the next day.
We had to get up early to check in for our boat 'Enid'. We hired our stinger suits from Mrs Snorkel and then waited to be called.
The boat wasn't quite what I (Michelle) was expecting and of course it was raining. Their were 16 passengers on the boat plus three crew (Paul the skipper, Matt the deckhand and Jo the host). They all looked after us extremely well and Paul was a very experienced skipper which made us all feel very safe.
On the first day of the boat we spent most of the day chatting to the other people on the boat and getting to know the people we were going to be sleeping with, and when we say sleeping with we mean sleeping with! We were shown to our cabin, although I like to call it 'cupboard', where there was a small double bed which was the length of the room, this was where karen and Rich were sleeping. On top of their bed was me and Zoe, my bunk went across Karen and Rich's head and Zoes went across their feet, it was a very interesting way of sleeping! I also had a very small gap between the bed and roof which meant I couldn't physically sit up.
At night we moored up at Hamilton Island. We had a really good night here as Jo got the torch out and we were spotting fish, but not just any fish there was Amanda, Bianca, Adam, Nelson, two Michaels, Peter, Matt and the rest of the family. This was a family of squids. They enjoyed the bread we fed them. We drank our Goon and chatted with the other passengers. There was a good mix of people on the boat of all ages and from different countries. We took it in turns to go to bed as we couldn't all stand in the room at the same time. It wasn't a very good sleep for either of us as it was soooooooooo hot, Zoe ended up going on deck for a bit. Rich hit his head on my bed when he woke up and Karen was touching my knee in the night thinking it was the port hole!
When we got up everyone who slept near the radio was telling a story of how the radio had been non stop that night with cries of mayday mayday. That night we had had really bad weather, Paul spent most of the night awake trying to rescue the canopy.
When we set sail again that day we passed the boat that had been calling mayday, it had crashed into the rocks in the night. We saw the helicopter go past many times rescuing passengers and belongings. There are many stories surrounding the crash such as the skipper was drunk, the crew disappeared, the boat was overloaded etc. The story did actually make the news. After that we heard that about 40 boats at Airlie Beach had hit the rocks in the harbour, this was apparently due to the fact that the weather was unexpected.
Paul was still determined to take us to Whitehaven which is the best island in the Whitsundays. The journey there was definitely an experience, as a result of the bad weather, the boat didn't just rock from side to side, it threw us all over the place, Zoe thought this was very scary but I thought it was fun! Each side of the boat basically tipped into the water as we surfed the waves! One girl was extremely sea sick, Zoe felt bad but she had her pills!!!!
When we arrived at Whitehaven beach, boats are not allowed to moor at the beach so we moored in the sea which meant a dingy ride over to the beach. The water was still very choppy and we were both dreading the ride over to the Island, but we were determined to do it because it is meant to be one of the best beaches in the world. The sand on the Island is about 90% silica (we can't remember the exact figure). Anyway getting into the dingy, well what can I say! The dingy and the boat weren't quite in tune with each other, as one went up the other went down. When you tried to step onto the dingy it suddenly disappeared from beneath your feet. We did however manage it, with the help of one of the guys grabbing our legs to pull us in meaning we fell into the dingy with a thud! We were dropped off in the sea and all had to jump for land. The ride across wasn't so bad in the end and it was defintiely worth it!
On the Island we walked up to the lookout where we could see across the whole of Whitehaven beach, it was beautiful, even though the sky wasn't blue it had stopped raining and still looked amazing.
We then had a walk across the island to get to the beach which was pure white, it looked like snow, and the great thing was seeing as our boat was the only one brave enough to cross the choppy waters it meant we were the only ones on the beach! On the beach we saw a stingray, which decided to jump out at us and made us run for our lives which was seen as rather amusing! We spent a bit of time here and was then collected by dingy which was a rough ride back but we made it safely even if we did get wet.
As we were travelling to our spot to moor for the night, I said to Jo I'd love to drive the boat, she then went and asked the skipper if I coukld and he said yes! So I got to drive the boat, it was really fun and I took my role very seriously as you can see from the pictures. I feel I drove very well and have decided my chosen career path is to become a skipper (Mum can you let the law schools know please!).
When we moored up for the night the weather was a lot calmer. Seeing as it was too hot to sleep in our cupboard, me and Zoe decided to sleep on deck for the night. We ended up in the best spot, next to the skipper and with cushions to lay on, the other people who slept above simply slept on the wooden deck. It was a much better sleep, but somehow I managed to sleep with an electric light, had a torch shine in my face and went to bed with my hair down and woke up with it up, it was all a bit strange!
The next day was much nicer there were blue skies and the water was a lot calmer. We stopped off for a snorkel on this day. It was a really good spot and you could see loads, there appeared to be more fish visible here than at Cairns.
After this we managed to put the sails up and let the wind take us back to Airlie Beach. When we got off the boat we saw a few of the boats that had crashed into the rocks.
Despite the weather we actually had a really good time, the boat was lovely, the food was good and the people were nice. It was a fun and exciting adventure, not quite what we were expecting, but means we will have great memories from our once in a life time experience!
When we got back to Airlie we were staying at Beaches, which is a nice hostel. Our boat had booked a table at the hostel so we meet with everyone that night to share our stories. It was good to be clean again and was funny to see everyone looking nice rather than dirty and windswept! After Beaches a few of us headed to Shenanigans for a boogie. It was a really good night and we'll miss the people we met from Enid.