Out on the Sea – Sailing the Whitsunday Islands on Wings 2

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Our Greyhound Australia Adventure continued…the next stop was Airlie Beach. This is the jumping-off point for overnight boat trips to Australia’s famous Whitsunday Islands. We had been looking into last minute deals and finally decided on a 3 day/2 night sailing trip recommended by a fellow traveler, on the Wings 2 catamaran. Even the last minute price was steep at $405 AUD each!

While in Airlie, we enjoyed a dip in the gorgeous saltwater oceanside public pool since the beautiful Australian waters are often unswimmable due to jellyfish. The jellyfish season was just beginning, so we were sure to be cautious. At trivia night and a barbeque at our hostel, we met a cool British couple, Holly & Chris, who were Greyhounding it South like us.

A sign at Airlie Beach warning visitors about jellyfish. The man pictured is sporting a "stinger suit".A sign at Airlie Beach warning visitors about jellyfish. The man pictured is sporting a "stinger suit".
A sign at Airlie Beach warning visitors about jellyfish. The man pictured is sporting a "stinger suit".10-Oct-2011 08:05
 

After packing up all of our stuff and leaving it in storage in our hostel, we took our daypacks with the few items we needed and picked up our bag o’ wine on the way. Believe it or not, we realized we can actually get Australian wine at a lower price in New York than in the country itself! Bizarrre! We’ve heard it’s a tax thing. So, we had to resort to the backpackers’ drink of choice, or lack of choice, really – the “goon” bag. This boxed wine containing a silver bag of budget wine became our standard drink in Oz. Apparently, it got its name because when people were finished drinking the wine, they’d use the empty bag as a pillow, the aboriginal word being “goon.”

Erik demonstrating the "goon" bag pillow (aka box wine).Erik demonstrating the "goon" bag pillow (aka box wine).
Erik demonstrating the "goon" bag pillow (aka box wine).23-Sep-2011 21:35
 

After a long, hot walk to the pier, we met with our crew and fellow boat passengers. The boat only holds 24, so we were at near capacity with just one less. The weather seemed pleasant and favorable, but as soon as we boarded and left port, we were told some rare winds were going to change the normal route and we’d have to visit different dive and snorkel sites than planned. Unfortunately, as we learned on our first dive/snorkel, this also wound up meaning that the visibility was terrible.

Our boat, Wings 2, waiting to depart Airlie Beach.Our boat, Wings 2, waiting to depart Airlie Beach.
Our boat, Wings 2, waiting to depart Airlie Beach.10-Oct-2011 08:39
 

I managed to see a turtle when jumping in, but the freezing water and horrible visibility had me returning to the boat straightaway.

Erik heading out on a dive.Erik heading out on a dive.
Erik heading out on a dive.11-Oct-2011 14:01
 

The food on board was delicious and plentiful, though quarters were tight. We did manage to wind up with a nice bed nook. Sleeping quarters were shared, with about half the group on either side of the cat. Ours was nice and roomy and near the bathroom. However, the first night was swelteringly hot, as the air conditioning failed and we sweated it out through the night. Not exactly as advertised, especially for the steep price!

Our bed - we were lucky to get one of the few doubles!Our bed - we were lucky to get one of the few doubles!
Our bed - we were lucky to get one of the few doubles!10-Oct-2011 10:27
 

Our chef and dive/activity captain were both really nice and very accommodating. But, the captain had some kind of issue with the company, and spent most of the trip with a scowl on his face, avoiding everyone on board and nastily bossing around the crew. Not exactly fostering a good energy on board.

In the kitchen/lounge getting ready for an evening briefing.In the kitchen/lounge getting ready for an evening briefing.
In the kitchen/lounge getting ready for an evening briefing.11-Oct-2011 18:06
 

One plus of the trip was the spectacularly gorgeous Whitehaven Beach. After a short hike to the famous thin strip of beach, we realized we were the first group there and had the whole beach to ourselves for a good 45 minutes or so.

The blindingly-white Whitehaven Beach.The blindingly-white Whitehaven Beach.
The blindingly-white Whitehaven Beach.11-Oct-2011 06:04
 

We strolled along the clear warm waters, wading in the shallows with many stingrays and small reef sharks. It was so neat! Because of the shallow calm waters, there were tons of both!

Erik trying to video a long line of passing sting rays and sharks.Erik trying to video a long line of passing sting rays and sharks.
Erik trying to video a long line of passing sting rays and sharks.11-Oct-2011 06:00
 

On the beach, a bunch of people from the boat decided to create a crazy human pyramid. It was hard work as I somehow wound up near the bottom!

Maybe five levels was a little too ambitious!Maybe five levels was a little too ambitious!
Maybe five levels was a little too ambitious!11-Oct-2011 09:37
 

We met a really sweet Israeli/French couple Adi and Olivier, and enjoyed chatting with them of our travels over some good card games. They were on an extended honeymoon of 6 months exploring Australia and New Zealand.

Getting ready to leave with some friends from the boat.Getting ready to leave with some friends from the boat.
Getting ready to leave with some friends from the boat.12-Oct-2011 07:23
 

The rest of the trip was nice, but the weather really hampered the visibility, so all underwater activities were disappointing. But, the scenery, the food, the company and the live-aboard experience still made for a good trip.

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

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