Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 55 & day 56 pt 1: "I'm on a boat!"

December 12 & 13 I spent living on a sailboat. I had no phone reception & I didn't want any. I didn't pick up my phone or think about blogging once. I'm sorry dear readers, but that's the truth. If you found yourself on a fast, sleek sailboat in the Whitsunday islands off the coast of Australia, you'd feel the same way.

We sailed on The Hammer, an award-winning racing sailboat in its day. It was a friendly & efficient 3 person crew to 22 travelers squeezed on board. I thought it'd be cramped but everyone was cool so it really wasn't. T & I had to share a bed but we actually got lucky bc it ended up right under a hatch so we got a breeze while the rest of the boat was hot.

I can't even describe how beautiful the Whitsundays are. Someday, I'd like to charter a boat & sail all the islands. Water in varying shades of brilliant blue, deep green islands, and maybe one other boat in sight every couple hours. Truly paradise.

I dove with T & a kiwi guy, I think it was luncheon bay; it was beautiful. Visibility wasn't as good as my last dive and I kinda freaked out bc I kept getting really close to the coral & thought I was going to kill it, but I'm getting really good at controlling my bouyancy and once I relaxed it was pretty nice.

Snorkeled a bunch. The first snorkel was actually better than my dive because the visibility was better - the colors underwater are just stunning. The second snorkel wasn't as good; large patches of coral were covered in algae, which, we learned from the marine biologist the other day, indicates its very sick. It made me sad; I felt like I was swimming over a graveyard. But then again, the fish were chowing down on the algae, so maybe its just the circle of life.

On both snorkels, I stayed out as long as I could & when the dingy made its last trip out to collect us (bc the boat can't get too near the coral), T & I opted to swim back. It is just so amazing out there.

We put up the sails - we all had to help, makes me really wish I'd paid attention when I went sailing as a kid - and let the wind power us three times. Feeling the boat tack, almost vertical in the water & sitting with my legs over the rail catching spray made me feel five years old & giddy. God, its such an amazing feeling to have the wind in your hair, the waves at your feet, and just flying, skimming the water that gleams & shines like so many diamonds beneath you. And, of course, with that huge Australian sky, comforting in its neverendingness, domed overhead.

They actually fed us really well on the boat and since we did our dive the first day, that night T & I were able to drink & be social with everyone. After a brilliant sunset, we were transfixed by the night sky & lost track of shooting stars. We had such a fun time, especially with Canadians Amy & Lauren and Scottish Craig - we all had goon bags (Craig was drinking his from a water bottle) and talked about everything from Halloween costumes to books to why for a guy being "cute" is better than "hot". We decided we'd all buy a boat together, call it "The Shimmering" (long story, you don't want to know) and sail the reef for the rest of our lives. We were the last to bed & we didn't stop laughing the whole time. The boat rocked me to sleep & I slept soundly.

On our second day, we went to whitehaven beach, which was full of backpackers from boat tours but still empty by California standards. Incredibly beautiful place.

We hiked to the crowded lookout & then down to the beach where, even though the clear water was calling us, we couldn't get in without our stinger suits. There are two deadly jellyfish in the Whitsundays this time of year & I wasn't willing to risk it. So we all looked a bit dorky in our lycra suits, but it didn't detract one bit from the day.

T & I sunned for a while then donned the suits & headed into the water with Craig. At waist-high, we could still see the bottom and as we were walking we noticed there were stingrays everywhere! They were beautiful but I got so paranoid I was going to step on one! I may or may not have shrieked once or twice.

As we got closer to the sandbar in the middle of the crystal water, I saw something swimming away and realized it was a shark! We looked closer & saw that there were SIX sharks swimming around in a little group! They were little ones, about 2 or 3 feet long, maybe sand or reef sharks(?) and not scary at all. They seemed completely uninterested in us; I tried to get a little closer for a picture but they swam away. So so cool.

We sat on the sandbar in the shallows & marvelled at how beautiful everything was. This place is actually real & we're actually here!

I'd brought my springy Santa hat & everyone at the beach wanted to take pictures in it. It took a trip of international heads: France, Finland, Canada, Germany, Slovenia, UK, etc, etc. I was spreading Christmas cheer.

This place really makes me want to stay in Australia. To work on a boat or work at the beach & take weekend trips to the islands. This is the life.

On our last sail, we put the big multicolored racing sail up & just flew. It was sad to be headed into the harbor & I could've stayed longer but 2 days was, surprisingly, enough time.

Today I'm so grateful & happy for:
~ a beautiful boat in the beautiful lislands
~ deciding to take the boat with T & not split up
~ no seasickness
~ seeing the reef
~ my ability to swim

Xo! n.


  1. WOW! i must say nikki i'm a little embarrassed that you have seen more of the australia then i have! it sounds amazing and i am most defiantly putting it on my list! I am also proud u do not get sea sick!

    Travel safely we miss you in the awesome office and around in perth!

    I hope that you have a great christmas if i dnt comment your blog before then and will speak soon=)


  2. Jealous of the shark sighting!

  3. not jealous of the shark sighting! Very happy the springy christmas hat made an appearance!


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