Wet and Windy in the Whitsundays - Day 2

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Awake, the engine already on. I pop up on deck with some of the others to stare at one of the other boats (Ragamuffin) who has managed to get themselves stuck on the reef. Schoolboy error. I expect the tourists on board are none to happy. The boat will be lucky to escape unscathed. Steve is unimpressed and has offered help but they are going to sort it themselves. We head out onto the waves while breakfast of cereal is served. It's pretty hard work scooping cereal in while the boat moves side to side but we manage. Simple, easy breakfast.

We’re heading around to Whitehaven Beach, the highlight of any Whitsundays tour. The weather isn’t too good but hopefully we can get there before it gets any worse.

As we head out of Nara Inlet and across the bay we are a little sheltered from the main island. The water is still choppy. Up ahead we see a largish boat (bigger than Prima) making a turn and coming back before taking to the open water north of Whitsunday Island. Steve warns us it might get a little choppy.

As soon as we pass out from the sheltered bay into the open water the swell grows. At first the waves are a metre or so but very quickly with everyone 'up top’ we are riding 3 and a half metre waves. Looking ahead, the waves are higher than the boat. It’s amusing at first as huge climbs up a wave are rewarded by a ‘splooosh’ as we quickly descend into a hollow. After 10 minutes Steve gives us an ultimatum "We can carry on with this for 3 hours to Whitehaven bay or we can turn around and try and find something else to do, the weather on Whitehaven won’t be great when we get there". Most of the boat instantly agreed to turn around, the Germans looked heavily disappointed but then agreed. Steve turned and we headed back. As I looked behind us, the tender boat tied on a rope to the back of Prima surfed a wave a metre higher than the top of Steve’s head.  It was a good decision. A couple of other boats appeared to carry on, but we were in agreement although gutted with the decision.

Back on calmer waters we headed down the west side of Whitsunday Island to Cid Harbour.  Just before our destination most of us who bothered to go on deck (Kate still chilling out below with a book) were rewarded with a Sea Turtle swimming alongside us. He passed underneath the boat and disappeared as quickly as he arrived. We were going on a Bushwalk. We all jumped on the tender and were scooted over to a little beach where we hopped off.

Why every Australian refers to a walk as a Bush walk I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned it was a nice walk. Bush or no bush. We headed through some trees along a track to a height of 450ish metres  and the highest point on Whitsunday Island. The Brits and the Germans did Europe proud pushing forward all the way. One Aussie group rushed ahead and then turned back before the top and only kept going to the top when we overtook them and insisted we were gonna go all the way. Tortoise and the Hare.

Luke and Fiona had to turn back as the going was a bit hard. That was a shame as they had walked with us the whole way and ended up turning back maybe 200m (20m vertical) from the top.

At the top was great. This is something we wouldn’t have done had the weather been bright and sunny, but Kate and I were pretty glad in the circumstances that it wasn’t. At the top the weather broke momentarily to reveal the clear blue waters and the distinctive outline of the islands. We could see clearly where we had travelled in the morning and we took some great photos.

After a good 20 minutes we headed back, Kate lagging behind singing to herself and trying to avoid contact with any insect life. The journey according to a board at the beach suggested it should take 4hours on a round trip, including a 20 minute stop at the top, it took us just under 2.

Back on Prima we raced away from a looming cloud to find a nice spot to do some snorkeling. Dressed to impress in our stinger suits we would be having a ganders as some fine coral (“Don’t touch it as it will die within a week” – Steve). Below deck Emma points out to Kate that she has put her suit on the wrong way around, zipper at the front. I berate Kate a little for her faux pas and then head out onto deck. When Kate has corrected her error and joins us up top, Steve says “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

Kate “The Bad news?”.

“You have your stinger suit on back to front”.

We didn’t find out what the good news was. It appears Kate’s suit was meant to be worn with the zipper at the front.

The snorkeling was awesome. After an initial few seconds when I panicked and was breathing like an Asthma sufferer in summer running a marathon, we swam around and saw some great sights. Steve swam like a fish and dove under to grab a fish in mid swim before releasing. I nearly got kicked in the head repeatedly by Glen and Kate managed to steam up here goggles repeatedly by breathing through her nose (apparently this is a trait that Germans do a lot).

 Kate and I swam close together and pointed out fish to each other “Look theres a Dory fish!”,  “There's loads of Dory fish”, “Oooooo Nemo” etc and for an hour we gently made our way over a 200m stretch of reef back to Prima. Towards the end we were surrounded by a bunch of Zebra fish who came up nice and close. Freezing cold by now we jumped onto the back of the tender and were whisked back to Prima.

A second stop at Langford Reef (way to choppy to do anything) followed by a stop at a bay slightly further north gave us a spot more Snorkelling. I jumped off the boat as if I had been shot and looked a bit ridiculous. Kate found the second snorkel a bit harder work (as did I) due to firstly being a bit too cold and secondly as we were in much deeper water. As we jumped in we were both given not only a sight of nothingness beneath us, but also a little red-lined jellyfish merely half a metre in front of us. They seemed to be everywhere! As we swam along panicked I brushed a couple away “Get away from me gurgle gurgle splutter splutter” until we got near the reef.

The reef looked a little more damaged here and deeper but I enjoyed it anyhow. I’ve got a bit of a taste for it now and did a couple of dives down to have a close look. Not quite got the hang of blowing out the snorkel on rising out of the water but nearly there. I suffered a little swimming back to the boat against the waves not being a strong swimmer, but Kate kept looking back at me checking which was sweet. Swimming is something I should really put some time into.

We anchored at our Snorkel spot with a few other boats (they had been following Steve around all day to the good spots) and Steve informed us that Ragamuffin was still stuck on the reef. He also informed us that the other boats that had tried for Whitehaven had all turned round. If anything they had just wasted a couple of hours of their time trying. Good work skipper.

The shower was amusing in the cramped room. I decided sitting on the toilet while showering was probably the easiest option to make the most of the space, at least the salt was pretty much gone even though I didn’t feel all that clean.

We chatted after our pasta dinner for quite a while. It was all quite sedate. More wine, but everyone a little tired. Before bed we spent quite a lot of time talking with Anna, Julia and Morine (although Morine didn’t talk too much due to the language difficulty) and really enjoyed ourselves. The girls were great throughout and we found them very easy to get on with. We slinked off to bed and tried sleeping the other way up this time round. A better night’s sleep except for at 3am in the morning when Kate woke to go to the toilet and looked over at me stating “Stop saying the ship is going to sink, stop it”.

I insisted I hadn’t said anything, and Kate insists she didn’t even say this to me. She is wrong.
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