In the not-so-distant past, I spent two nights and two days aboard the boat Wings, sailing around the Whitsundays. Well, a mere four months later I returned, post-Debbie to assess the damage. Jokes, I just wanted another sailing holiday.
My latest travel companion, Poppy (whom you may remember from such adventures as India On A Shoestring), was very adamant that she wanted to do a sailing trip around Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands. She’d been to Airlie Beach before but for some reason or another, she hadn’t been on a boat. Despite my slight lack of funds, I decided to turn a blind eye to my bank balance and join her. YOLO.
Thanks to a flash sale from Tiger Air, we managed to grab flights for $33 one-way to Prosperine and we got a naughty little deal on the boat too. A mere 48 hours before departure, we finally got around to looking at the boats and, thanks to our tardiness, we snagged a standby price for the boat Prima for a mere $409 – saving ourselves almost $100. But the good luck didn’t stop there! The morning of our departure we received a call from the boat company and something about flights being delayed meant that there weren’t enough people to fill the boat, so we were being moved ship . . . to the Clipper. Jokes (again) that’d be my idea of hell. Instead, we were sent on the fittingly patriotic British Defender and received a whopping $10 refund aka breakfast.
The trip didn’t exactly get off to the best start: the weather was absolutely atrocious (I’m talking wind, rain, fog) and I missed out on the chocolate cake upon boarding. Truly heart-breaking, as I’m sure you can appreciate. Anyway, as we began to sail away from Airlie in our stunning yellow rain coats, the sun began to creep out – both literally and figuratively. The rain stopped in time for a rather magnificent sunset and it turned out that our fellow British and Norwegian sailors shared our burning passion for Sean Paul. It was going to be a good few days.
To compliment the company, the food wasn’t half bad either. Our afternoon snack on the first day arrived in the form of nachos and dinner was chicken with salady-healthy accompaniments. The second day started brilliantly with raisin toast. Yes, raisin toast. There was also normal bread, a selection of cereals, yogurt and fruit. Living like kings, I tell ya! Then we had fruit and biscuits for snacks, sausages, pasta salad and potato salad for lunch, biscuits again, and spag bol with garlic bread for dinner. So many carbs, not ideal for beach photos, hence the abundance of edgy back photos. It’s also BYO booze like the majority of Whitsundays backpacker boats – hurrah! I say hurrah, Poppy and I finished off our responsible 10-pack of ciders and then foolishly moved on to other people’s goon (with their knowledge, we’re not thieves). A few too many snorkel bombs later, we both endured some of the worst hangovers of our lives on the final day. Classy.
In terms of snorkelling and activities, the itinerary was quite different from the last time I was there. I’m not sure if this was just because I was on a different boat with a different company, or whether it was more to do with Cyclone Debbie and the weather, but we barely did anything compared to Wings – not necessarily a bad thing, just something to bear in mind. Dear old Debbie destroyed a fair bit of the coral surrounding the Whitsundays, which is a shame as I much preferred the coral here than in Cairns. Debbie has also played havoc with the water quality: it is fairly clear in some parts, but most of the water is still a murky brown and apparently visibility is pretty poor. On our first afternoon we did nothing but sail until we reached the place where we’d spend the first night; on the second day we visited a cute little waterfall in the morning, followed the Whitehaven in the afternoon; and on our final morning some of our group went snorkelling . . . I was far too busy with my goon-over to participate.
All in all, it was a great trip and I don’t actually think I could say which boat I preferred. I do wonder how different the British Defender’s itinerary was before Debbie, or even will be in the coming months. For now, though, long live Sean de Paul blalalalala.