Day 36, May 22, 2018
I slept so much better in the bunk the second night and actually enjoyed being rocked by the gentle waves. The Skipper was also kind to us this morning and didn’t start the engines until the late hour of 6:45am. After bread and peanut butter a la fresco, we sailed back to Butterfly Bay for our second snorkel. The sun had just come up, so we were shivering in our damp stinger suits in the crisp air. The chill was completely worth it once I popped my head underwater and glimpsed neon oranges, purples, and blues. The underwater rainbow consisted of tubular corals, fringe-like anemone, and striped fish zig-zagging around. There must’ve been hundreds if not thousands of different species in the bay, which was part of the fringing Great Barrier Reef. I was tempted to poke my finger in the giant clam with its 3ft long jaws spread wide open, but refrained out of fear of losing my arm.
Soon the cold got to us and we headed back for hot tea and towels. I knew we were on our way to our third and final snorkel spot near Black Island only an hour away, but I couldn’t strip out of the wet stinger suit fast enough. However, I regretted this decision as soon as we got to the island and I had to slide myself painfully into the now wet and freezing cold suit. Only a few of us were courageous enough to brave the cold for the last snorkel and prepped ourselves by doing aerobic exercises on deck while waiting for the dingy. We spotted a massive sea turtle from the deck and hoped to see the same as we plunged underwater next to the island. The tide was really low, so we kept bumping up against coral and rocks as the strong current pushed us along. Without spotting any turtles, I headed back to warmth. Byron, however, was the last one in the water, determined to spot a turtle, ad obliviously floating along the reef with his head underwater as the people in the dingy shouted his name to bring him in.
With dry clothes on and the sun shining, we all laid out on the deck with our lunch as the boat headed back to Airlie Beach. Skipper started giving instructions to Ernst and Zack to hoist the sails since we were going to sail and not motor back. We took our places at the grinder positions and ropes and cranked and pulled as fast as we could when Skipper gave the command. The sails whipped around violently until the tension increased and the wind filled the sail. The boat leaned perilously to one side and we clutched the top railings. The boat was only going about 12knots, but it felt much faster with the bow rising up and crashing down into the waves. Water spilled over the front and came rushing back at us in buckets, causing everyone to scream. There was an intense period when these waves kept getting more and more intense and the water spilled over the bottom side and poured into the galley. The lean of the boat felt like we were sure to capsize and the Skipper started swearing as one of the deck grind switches stuck and he had to fix it from down below. Zack and Ernst rushed to close any open hatches and secure the ropes, getting covered in seawater as they did so. Luckily, the waves calmed and we entered the port after our watery adrenaline rush.
Spank Me cruised into the marina and returned us to the dock, much tanner, salty, and tired–but sad to leave our boat. We walked down the dock and promised to all meet each other later at the after party, after showers and naps. My skin had a thin white layer of salt, which felt incredible to wash off for the first time in days. Feeling like a normal person again, we headed over the Beaches Bar and shared beers and free champagne (for Ladies Night) with our boat friends. It was like night and day seeing some people when they actually wore make up–I barely recognized them! Zack and Ernst joined us too, with Ernst sharing more stories from the sea, and Zack clearly enjoying the fact that he wasn’t working tomorrow with a pitcher of beer. The girls fawned over Zack with his long blonde hair and surfer physique while the rest of us cheered each other on at the pool tables. Byron and I said goodbye to our boat buds and headed home around midnight, glad to have comfy beds on dry land to sleep in.
May 20th – May 22
Whitsundays Sailing Tour: $370 (we booked a package deal)
Drinks: $7.50 beer (Ladies were given free champagne)