Hoist the sails, Mate!
Airlie Beach and Whitsunday Islands, February 17-23, 2018
Airlie Beach. Access point to the Incredible Whitsundays Islands. Our next stop and our departure point for chartering a 43’ Beneteau for three nights. Lauri and I don’t always do things in typical order... many people take sailing lessons first and then charter a boat to get comfortable and figure out their likes and dislikes before buying a sailboat. Not us... first we buy a boat, then charter a boat, then we will end the trip with sailing lessons in New Zealand. it feels right to us. What can I say? The charter company checked us out while teaching us the intricacies of mooring ball pick up, anchoring, setting sail etc... Honestly, our knowledge base was fine, our experience base was lacking, but our enthusiasm was infectious. 3 hours into our boat familiarization, Terry, our charter representative climbed into his own dingy and motored away.
This is exactly what our Australian friends we met on the Kayak trip last summer told us to do. Talk a charter company into giving you a boat. If you need to take a captain for the first day, do it. Then figure out everything else. Large boats have a bunch of moving parts, but between the 4 of us we got it all figured out. Cort and Brett managed the mooring ball pick up and anchoring. Lauri kept a close eye on the depth gage as we sailed our way around some spectacular, tropical scenes. Me, I just plotted a very conservative course as we circumnavigated the islands.
Cumberland Charter, Cumberland Charter, Cumberland Charter, this is Olivetta... Twice a day we checked in with our home base on the VHF radio and got the weather report and updated them with our sailing plans. “On our way to Tongue Bay with a snorkeling stop at Butterfly Bay... Over.” Ahh... we can get used to this.
Selecting an anchorage turned out to be as much art as science. The weather was HOT, HOT, HOT and a the right bay could give us a welcome breeze, but likely give us some chop. Bounce or suffocate? Hmmm? What would you choose? I chose a bit of bounce with a side of cooling breeze, just off the most beautiful beach we’ve ever seen. Whitehaven Beach is pure white sand that goes on forever. Tidal exchange has sculpted the beach with swirls and inlets and shades of blue and white that defy imagination. Mother Nature has an Australian accent, I’m sure of it.
Thunder, lightning and rain had us scrambling to shut hatches our second night. Pitch black between lighting bolts. Anchor lights from other boats just confuse me... did a boat leave? Which way are we facing? Clearly the mooring ball isn’t dragging, is it? This isn’t a modest bounce. This is a wave induced bounce with a side of occasional roll. Hmm. Sleeping is difficult as our bodies lag the boats movement just enough to keep us awake. Morning light came quick enough and after listening to the VHF radio, we got off pretty easy. Our harbor mates boat got the mooring line wrapped around their keel and had the mooring ball banging against their hull most of the night. Not pleasant I assure you. This sailing thing is interesting... lots to learn.
All to quickly, Cort’s and My Birthday celebrations were over as we pointed Olivetta back to her home port in the Airlie Beach Marina. 30 and 60, respectively are in the books with amazing memories that will last our life times.
Oh yea.... we are coming back here, Cort wants to come by boat... (I love this girl) not sure that is in the cards, but we are definitely, definitely coming back.
10/17/2022 10:36:13 am
Glass win control. Agree window nothing.
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Denny and Lauri