Review of Spank me Whitsundays
Whitsundays Vs Spank Me
5th July 16
Our morning started with an 8.30am check in at the Ozsail main office in Airlie Beach, with the sun shining and a friendly smile from Ozsail staff in the office. We were given a short briefing about the expectations of the day and, most importantly, when the tides were suitable for the boat to depart.
Once the paperwork was in order, we took a stroll through town, picked up some lunch and make our way over to Abell Point Marina for our departure point at 12.30pm. I would recommend during this time that you grab a few snacks and your alcohol for the trip in Airlie Beach before taking the 20-minute walk along the boardwalk to the meeting point. Most guests brought sacks of wine (i.e. goon) however my friend and I decided to share a case of beer (cans only!). There are also some beautiful restaurants and cafes at the meeting point to grab a bite before you depart.
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.
Spank Me at the Whitsundays
Once our excitement settle, the crew gave us a detailed rundown of the trip to come. Firstly, and most importantly, we were given a safety briefing. Following this, we were shown to our sleeping quarters. Most of the bunks are fitted for a double so do not be afraid to get cosy with your travel companion! The hull is open-plan with plenty of space for us all to move around the vessel. The two bathrooms were located on either side and we were given very detailed instructions on their fragile operation. We all followed the instructions over the next 2 days and thankfully there were no major clogging issues.
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.
“Hill Inlet displays unique swirls of bright blue ocean through the shallow sands. From this view, you can see stingrays and reef sharks playing in the water”
The temperature was perfect, for a winter afternoon, and once we were in our wetsuits and had been given our snorkel briefing, we were dropped in the water to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Cal kept a close eye on us as we swam amongst the vast variety of fish and coral. Some of us were lucky enough to spot a turtle. The crew were clearly very passionate about keeping the reef protected and we were instructed to take extra precaution when snorkelling. Fins can be a hazard to the reef and were therefore not provided, so if you are not a strong swimmer, make sure you inform the crew.
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.
Whitehaven Beach was Stunning
The sea life and the range of coral seemed to become more spectacular with every moment. It was no surprise why the Great Barrier Reef is labelled one of the natural wonders of the world. We met a few resident Maori Wrasse and visited the home of Nemo and his family, among many other highlights. We were all truly wiped out after our long, adventurous day.
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.
The next morning, we were able to take our time having breakfast and finding a spot to relax on deck, as we would be heading straight back to the mainland. It was the perfect morning for a sail so we all helped out to raise the sails and squeezed in one last salty, sailing adventure on the journey home. It was a sad moment to have to pack up our beds and bags and depart the vessel. Before we sailed back into the marina, the crew took a photo of us all with our new friends on the bow and wished us well for our next adventures.
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.
Whitsundays Sailing With Mandrake
Sail away for 2 days 2 nights with Ozsail in the Whitsundays
Dakota, Airlie Beach, Australia
28 June 2016
For the love of the Ocean, paradise is seen out on the reef and felt by the experience of sailing the Whitsundays
After a year and half of living in the Whitsundays, I have not let myself enjoy enough time being a tourist. I do not believe we can truly appreciate what this sea side town has to offer by sticking to the mainland. We meet locals, backpackers, boaties and fellow Australians that come to our town to feel the sunshine, heat and lifestyle that isnt known in the cities or country towns.
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.
After turning up to my group, I soon noticed I was the only Australian guest, not so uncommon for our backpacker town. Five Germans, two Asians, one French and myself. With a warm welcome and friendly hello, the skipper of Mandrake, Paul, promised they will look after me. With a massive smile our host Laura welcomed us on board and from leaving the Marina until we arrived back, both her and Paul went above and beyond to assure our safety, security and smiles.
” I love the sunsets,the wildlife and meeting all the people that come onboard”
-Laura, OzSail Host
Sailing off into the sunset was beautiful to say the least. We were surrounded by rain in the distance and the island of Australia behind us. Conversations flowed of who we are and where everyone was from. Laura was our host, tour guide, Paul our skipper and they soon became our friend. With rain and roughness expected, we were still promised a trip of a lifetime.
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.
Sunset on the Whitsundays
Photograph taken by Mandrake Crew
Taking time out to relax, bury my feet in the sand and zone out to the calm water and rolling clouds is exactly what I needed. Wandering up to Hill Inlet you can see why this is one of the most striking places on Earth and why it is captured as paradise.
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.
This is why we have so much demand on to tourism and OzSail will meet those needs.
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.