Waterplay in the Whitsundays

Trip Start Aug 08, 2011
Trip End Dec 09, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday dawned with rain and wind squalls punctuated with fine weather spells that, thankfully, lengthened through the day. We got some washing done and dried and then did some shopping and packing for our trip on the high seas with Anaconda III.

The Anaconda III is a mega yacht - it is impressive at 29.8 m (98 ft) in length and has the advantage of private ensuite cabins of various sizes, so it was great to be able to have a trip with an air-conditioned private ensuite double. Of course once you board, you remember that ship cabins of this kind are never very roomy and as the picture shows, sleeping entailed lying down with our feet inserted under a shelf with not very much headroom and a bit of storage underneath. For the trip we had this was a small price to pay.

We departed Airlie Beach at 7pm and were surprised that our departure coincided with fireworks as Airlie Beach was having its annual reef festival (and everyone was taking advantage of the fact that the weather had improved and this event would not be a washout like some others!).

While we were getting our safety briefing and meeting our fellow travellers, Baz our skipper motored us out of Abel Point Marina and pointed us towards the islands of the Whitsundays. We dropped anchor at about 10pm and headed to bed with the gentle rocking of the boat.

Kaz woke up early on Saturday morning and after waiting a while, went up on deck at 5:45 to catch the sun rising over Hook Island - a sign for a great day. Brekky was served at 7ish and Baz headed the boat towards Tongue Bay where we piled into tenders which took us ashore for a short walk up to a spectacular vantage point over world famous Whitehaven Beach (think QANTAS ad with children singing on amazing white sand). We were given a couple hours to take in the beautiful vista and then head down to the beach for whatever you felt like doing...sunbaking, swimming, walking and trying to take photos of the stingrays that cruise the sandbars. Superb.

Once back on board we ate lunch while the boat hoisted the sails and took us to Luncheon Bay on Hook Island for some snorkelling on the fringing reef, and an introductory scuba dive experience for those interested. Kaz decided to give the scuba a shot, so after some snorkelling she donned the aparatus and slowly, with the assistance of the dive guide got to dive down several metres and come face to face with giant trevally and a huge maori wrasse.

Once everyone was done with the waterplay we loaded back onto the tenders and headed back to the mothership for afternoon tea. The afternoon was spend under sail heading out to the Great Barrier Reef. The trip was 17 nautical miles off Hook Island and the boat certainly got up a bit of a roll. Several faces went shades of grey and green, but thankfully nobody was actually sick.

Just on sunset (another good weather sign) we moored in sheltered waters just off Bait Reef - salt air and fun making us hungry for dinner and ready for a good night's sleep.
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