We were greeted by our skipper and Mrs Snorkel under the umbrellas (between Bohemian Raw and Barcelona) who then collected our medical disclosures and distributed wetsuits. Once this was complete, we took a short stroll down the jetty to board our vessel.
We approached the 82-foot racing yacht in awe and our crew were ready to greet us warmly. Our skipper, Brian, welcomed us all individually as we climbed the ladder onto the deck. Our hostess, Laura, helped with the bags, and our deckhand, Cal, showed us all to a seat around the cockpit. The large, white deck was clearly designed for a fast, racing adventure, and we would soon find out what most of the gadgets were used for. Our group of 26 took our seats as Brian navigated us out of the marina and into Pioneer Bay to begin our adventure.
Now the fun stuff really started. We were hoisting the sails! This procedure required 8 volunteers and took quite a lot of manpower. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the operation and once the sails were up, we took our places on the high side to enjoy the ride. Wind conditions were moderate so we sailed at an easy pace, taking a few hours to sail passed the Molle group of islands and settle in our first snorkel location off Hook Island. The skipper informed us that each trip is unique and snorkel locations were altered to suit the tides and weather conditions. There are hundreds of small reefs around the Whitsundays Islands, all with their own individual beauty and style.
When we climbed back aboard, we spent hours discussing the things we saw and the other amazing creatures we were likely to spot during the trip. It was the beginning of whale season (Jun-Sept), and although we did not spot any, it was exciting to keep watch. We were allocated 1 minute showers, as fresh water is a hot commodity on a yacht, and quickly dried off and dug into some crackers and dip, as we motored to our quiet anchorage spot for the night. Before we knew it, dinner was ready and everyone was getting to know each other over a few drinks. Laura put together a delicious roast chicken dinner with plenty of satisfying sides. We even had the pleasure of watching the ocean come to life as we threw our scraps over the side and fed the many excited fish, and the occasional reef shark!
After many, many photographs, trying to capture the scenery, we took the track back down to the beach and spent a glorious 3 hours sunbaking on the sand, dipping our toes in the ocean, and chasing after the sea creatures. We boarded the boat and before we knew it, we were underway and heading for a new snorkel location. A refreshing lunch of wraps and pasta salad was served on our way across the islands and we had time to relax and enjoy the sunshine before pulling on our wetsuits once again.
We settled into our last spot to anchor for the night and were graced with yet another unforgettable sunset. After an excessive amount of delicious spaghetti bolognaise we all sat around the cockpit for some get-to-know-you games that certainly brought us closer together. While many of us were exhausted, we were sad to know that this was our last night with our new friends on the boat and we spent the rest of the night playing cards and having even more laughs.
While we walked up the jetty we promised we would all meet at the after party at Beaches later that night. After a hot shower and a nap, we were ready for one last night of Spank Me frivolities. Beaches provided us with a great discount on amazing meals, and to our surprise, a few jugs of free beer. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable adventure in the Whitsundays.
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Whitsundays Sailing With Mandrake
Sail away for 2 days 2 nights with Ozsail in the Whitsundays
The true magnificence is the big blue that backdrops Airlie Beach. We have the opportunity to leave our responsibilities at the Marina and sail off into the unknown and discover our environment more intimately, something to be treasured. There are a number of boats and companies that offer trips overnight, or longer. I had the chance to travel through OzSail and was off on the sailing yacht of Mandrake.
After a long week of working nights I welcomed the 3 day/2 night break. I had never done anything like this, out of a comfort zone and ready to go along for the ride.
-Laura, OzSail Host
The first day we woke up and got excited for Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven is one of the most picturesque spots in Australia. Voted as one of the top twelve beaches in the world by Trip Advisor, it is well known for not only tourists around the world, but photography, filming and a wedding destination. It can see up to 350 people a day from the tourism industry in peak season and the visitors are still swarming in to swim in the blue sea and wander through along white strand.
Most days we expected to enter the stillness, but as this is Queensland it would not be true without a little roughness above the ocean. Jumping into the sea the water below was calm but chaotic with life. Water temperatures were warm and you soon become lost amongst the aquatic ecosphere. With so much life surrounding you, it feels like you are accepted into a new world.
Paul educates us on the species we are visiting and it is obvious this is not just a job to the crew, but their passion. To sail the Whitsundays is on option, but to sail with a company that have love for our environment that they see daily, is a charm.
Our last morning was astounding. We woke up and dived into Blue Pearl Bay. One of the captains favourite spots for free diving and all of us were able to be encapsulated by the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. Blue Pearl Bay was beloved.
As our trip came to an end, we relaxed or even gave our best to try sail the boat ourselves. I left with new friends, an amazing experience and eagerness to get back to paradise one day soon.