When we walked up to the sailboat that would be our home for two days as we sailed around the Whitsunday Islands, my first thought was “is this the boat we’re taking to get to the bigger boat?”
It was not.
This 84 foot sailboat was home to 25 people for 2 days. And much to my surprise, it was completely comfortable. Once you get used to sleeping on a bunk that feels like a coffin and “showers” that consist of spraying the salt water off yourself with a hose for 30 seconds as you hold onto a bar for stability and try to avoid tripping over the toilet that takes up the majority of the floor space. And eating your meals while the boat rocks drastically back and forth, making filling up your dinner plate with food feel like a major athletic achievement. It was fantastic and I loved every minute of it.
We set sail from Mackay Harbor in the afternoon, and sailed the rest of the day into the evening. We watched the sunset from the boat, and then the stars started to come out one at a time. There was zero light pollution, and the moon didn’t rise until later that night, so we had the best view of the night sky I’ve ever seen. It looked like someone threw 10 million diamonds up into the inky black sky and they stuck there for the sole purpose of twinkling at us. The Milky Way was visible, and I saw 2 shooting stars. I laid on the deck looking up and I didn’t want to blink because I didn’t want to miss a moment of that sky. I think that night will stand out in my memory as one of the best evenings of my life, and all I did was gape at the stars and enjoy the cool night air coming off of the sails.
We finally dropped anchor offshore of Shaw Island, and I fell asleep to the gentle sway of the boat and the sea breeze.
On an 84 foot sailboat you wake up when the crew gets up. The crew gets up with the sun. Luckily there is hot coffee, toast, cereal, fruit, and yogurt to help you greet the day properly. We sailed around the Whitsundays and stopped at Whitehaven Beach, where the sand is 98% pure silica, one of the only places in the world with sand that pure. It squeaks when you walk on it, and you can exfoliate your skin with it. As if we needed to feel more carefree that morning than we already did, hundreds of beautiful butterflies joined us on the beach, fluttering along the coast and in and out of the trees.
Also here’s a jellyfish that joined us on the beach:
We did a few hikes on Whitsunday Island, and hiked to the stunning views at Hill Inlet Lookout.
More photos from the boat:
In the late afternoon we snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef and I saw thousands of gorgeous, colorful fish, including a huge Napoleon Humphead Maori Wrasse named Elvis.
The next day we snorkeled again, this time focusing on an area with huge sea turtles. I’m not sure there is a better way to start your day than swimming with sea turtles. Here are two videos I took while snorkeling.
I loved the Whitsunday Islands, and I loved sailing. I loved snorkeling. I also really loved the shower I took once we were back on the mainland, and I was able to wash my hair for the first time in 3 days. Today I’m on a train up the coast to Cairns, where I’ll do more snorkeling on the reef tomorrow.