Monday, 24 November 2008

Whitsundays Holiday - Part 4

Continued from here.

Day 4 – Wednesday 15th October

We got underway shortly after breakfast and our morning “sked” – a pre-determined radio call from our boat provider checking on everyone’s plans for the day. They’d call every morning at 8:30am, and again at 1pm in the afternoon to see what we were up to.

We were on our way to Chalkies Beach (10) on Haslewood Island, where we’d had brilliant snorkelling on our last trip. Chalkies has a challenging anchorage because the bottom plummets away to 100m not far away, but provided you are among the first few boats to drop anchor you’re ok. We sailed there passing Whitehaven Beach (9), a beautiful, long, perfectly white expanse of sand – and a popular day trip from the nearby resorts by boat, helicopter and sea plane. We got to Chalkies by late morning and at high tide, threw on our masks and fins and swam towards the reef.

And swam, and swam and swam… where was the reef? Milord got fed up and headed back to the boat to pick up the dingy and I carried on. After about half an hour I still hadn’t found the reef and I was getting a bit freaked out so I turned and swam towards shore, navigating around a rocky headland. Around this point I realised I was swimming into the current too, which while not very strong was still unpleasant. Milord finally returned with the dingy as I staggered angrily onto the sand, and we went back to the boat for lunch and a rest.

Low tide happened at about 2pm, so we buzzed across in the dingy and found the reef right where we thought it was – it had just been too deep to see! We snorkelled around for a while complaining about the visibility… and suddenly it got so bad that I couldn’t see anything at all – not even my hands! We got very uncomfortable and high-tailed it back to the dingy, dodging corals that loomed out at us at the very last second. Brrr - creepy. That was it for me, I’d lost all desire for snorkelling, although Milord had another go the next day.

We had a glorious sunset over the sea, and cooked steaks with salad.

Day 5 – Thursday 16th October

A lazy start and a gentle sail over to Whitehaven Beach (9), where we had bacon and eggs sandwiches before taking the dingy to the beach. Commercial day tripping boats are restricted to either end of the beach, but as a private charter we could anchor anywhere so we picked a secluded patch. We buzzed ashore, anchored the dingy in the sand and took a long walk on squeaky clean bright white sand. They say the beach is pure silica, and it certainly is stunning. We put our towels down in a patch of shade under a scrubby pine and went for a swim in the crystal water, followed by a bottle of cold champagne. There was enough breeze to keep the flies away and to stop it being too hot.

After about half an hour we walked back to our dingy, just in time to stop it floating away on the rising tide! Luckily the breeze had been on-shore! Then back to our boat and back to Chalkies (10), where we dropped anchor almost exactly where we’d spent the night! We grabbed our books and relaxed in the shade of the awning.

I read several books on our trip. Kat had sent me a novel set in Venice (she and I travelled there together a few years ago and loved it) which I enjoyed – the author managed to really evoke the spirit of the place. As much as I tried to eke the book out I finished it in a couple of days and I would have gone insane but happily the boat had a small library on board. What a bizarre collection! A Shakespearean play with handwritten notes all the way through. The “Backpacker’s Bible”, which I thought would be a travel book but turned out to actually be a Bible… for backpackers. And a few novels. Kat, I left your book aboard in the hope that someone enjoys it!

During the afternoon I got very hot and decided to go for a swim. As I was about to dive into the water I looked down and did a double take. The sea seemed to rushing past like a fast river! I dipped in a toe: yep, the current was wild! I gently lowered myself down the ladder and laughed as my body was pushed horizontal in the water. Milord brought me my fins and I powered up to the front of the boat and hung onto the anchor line letting myself flutter in the current. Then I let go and the water swept me along the side to the rear where I grabbed the dingy line before swimming to the front again – it was great fun! Milord put his fins on too and came to join me and we played in the current for ages. I wouldn’t have liked to have been in that current without my fins though!

For our last night aboard I tried to use up as much food as possible by making a spicy pork stew with lots of vegetables, and we drank the last of the wine. Sadly I’d got the catering a bit wrong and we ended up with lots of food left over and ran out of booze – we had to ration ourselves over the last couple of days! Milord was quite indignant.

I love this pic of me. I look so tanned and relaxed and ungroomed... even the scar running down my cheek doesn't bother me too much.

continued here.


Kat said...

Glad you enjoyed the book, and good plan to leave it on board. I smiled when I read about whitehaven beach - I just love the squeaky beaches that you guys have over there - they are such fun!! :)

Suzanne said...

It sounds like an incredibly beautiful and relaxing holiday. I like the idea of anchoring then motoring out to a deserted beach.