Our marine adventure in the magical Whitsundays

Ahoy there! Sorry for my absence! We’ve only just gotten back to dry land after a week of sailing in the Whitsundays, a little corner of paradise near the Great Barrier Reef full of deserted islands, candy coloured coral and sugar white beaches. I missed my blog, and got lots of lovely emails politely enquiring if I was still alive in the blogosphere, but it was such a treat to take a break and unplug for a while as well.

Now, about the sailing. I absolutely adore sailing holidays. When that weather is good, it’s a holiday full of sensations. The constant gentle rocking of the sailboat, the sound of the ocean and the birds wheeling about the sky, that privacy of going where there’s no one around, not one blasted tourist or rip off pizza place for miles…. The only thing was that we’d never done a trip with kids before, and this time we had decided to take our two boys aged 5 and 13 and go with our Peninsula neighbours Kate, Tony and their two boys as well. This would be an interesting one!

The weather was kind to us for most of the trip and the sea water was just heaven. Warm as a molten chocolate cake core, glistening like a sheet of chalcedony glass. When I jumped in and floated on your back, I felt like a small toasted crouton bobbing about in a bowl of olive oil.

Unfortunately, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Divine clement water meant that we were also surrounded by dancing jellyfish which had proliferated in the warm summer. After being stung by something which left a tentacle trail of small but smarting blisters on my left thigh, we all decided to stinger suit up and looked like bargain price super heroes, or the guy from the movie KickAss.

Except for Finn of course. Finn is the coolest.

Finn thought the stinger suit was very smart and loved it so much he elected to have a cooking-pot water rinse when he got out of the sea rather than taking it off…

This was the iconic Whitehaven beach, a 7 km pristine stretch of gorgeous sunbleached sand. We rocked up in the dinghy and there was literally no one on it as far as we could see.

The kids were in their element mucking about in the water. Quote of the trip goes to Kate’s 10 year old son Riley, who, when he was referred to as a water baby, retorted in an indignant tone “I rather prefer to be called a son of Poseidon…”

So much splashing!

The pristine bleached sand was the texture of powdered coconut, the grains so insubstantial they were hardly solid when you sifted them through your fingers.

Sailing is also about the art of simplicity. Good simple food . We had a barbie on the boat so it was super easy to do things like butterflied Ras el Hanout and lemon marinated lamb and a cous cous salad. Or a classic Salad Nicoise for lunch . I brought the gourmet tinned spanish tuna all the way from Singapore along with my trusty Microplane grater and a huge bottle of Sriracha chili sauce. Spenser, Kate’s 13 year old paid me the ultimate compliment by suggesting that I would make a fortune if I wrote a Sailing Cookbook – that’s in the works Spenser!

The only problem with bareboating (having no hired crew) is that the boys are always pulling on bits of rope or poking at something with a pole when you need them to take a photo of you lazing about on deck. Hello guys, I was ready for my close up half an hour ago!!!

We had ample time to curl up with a book without the distractions of TV or mobiles once we were out of reception area. I highly recommend unplugging from the internet for a few days to detox every now and then, especially if you are a hardcore addict like me. You come back refreshed and grounded, floating 5 feet off the ground and wondering what everyone else is so stressed about.

Sunset with a glass of chilled wine on deck and the laughter of good friends is balm for the soul.

My favourite sailing moment is when you turn the engines off and unfurl the sails. I always get thrilled when I hear the sails whizzing up and the first gust of wind puffing them up with an emphatic whooph! Everyone has to help out on deck so it’s a communal experience – doing the fenders, getting the boat hook and calling out distances, watching for potential hazards, winching the ropes (which is great exercise btw)…

Of course we did have the requisite dramas ranging in size from a petrol tank that went untethered (minor), to a dinghy rope which broke during a massive storm (major, but saved nicely), to a neighbouring boat which had come off its anchor and was about to crash into us while we were tucking into tacos (disaster averted by Finn shaking his fist at the offending boat and shouting “BEGONE PIRATES” while the Irishman conducted negotiations with the potential hostiles/imbeciles), and my personal favourite – running out of water on the last day so we had to do the dishes in the melted ice from the styrofoam coolers and everyone went to bed scuzzy and unwashed. (MAJOR FAIL!)

Oh well, it wouldn’t be a proper sailing trip with a few panic attacks! Yes the high seas are full of stories. At dull moments, we used to leave the radio tuned to the emergency channel 81 (also known as Channel Schadenfreude) to eavesdrop on everyone else’s laments. Losing dinghies did seem to be a regular occurrence in the Whitsundays!

Adventures are good for building character, I always say. About a hundred times a day I would kick some child off the ipad or nintendo and say “Get out there! You’re not going to have great memories of level 6-4 of Mario on your deathbed!”. The next holiday we shall have a proper screen ban I think.

Here the boys are, forced by their cruel parents to bond and have real life sensations….

Riley (on the right, below) has such impressive hair, he always looks like he’s just escaped out of some Botticelli painting….

We had some quality family time together too. So good that the two boys had the Irishman’s undivided attention once we sailed out of mobile coverage.

Fishing was a good idea in theory but the little buggers were too smart for the Irishman and his Wiggly Pink Plastic Prawn, as Finn termed the bait.

It didn’t stop them from having a great time though.

The two brothers sharing a hug.

It was a particularly important trip for Finn who is dealing with having dad go from a farmer in Merricks to a banker who travels 5 days a week. He was so happy to have some boys time as he somewhat upstaged by his diva of a 3 year old sister on a daily basis. He really came on his own on this holiday, keeping himself occupied on the boat with his own little games and drawing in his journal. And he was so brave and stoic even during huge storms with 4 metre waves crashing over the bow.

Sean took this photo of us at the end of a rainbow. Love it!

And here’s the whole crew of Sea Lynx…

It won’t be long till the next trip I’m sure! Now back to the life of a landlubber….

One thought on “Our marine adventure in the magical Whitsundays

  1. Loved reading your account of the sailing holiday,Crystal. It’s obvious everyone had a great time – in spite of the emergencies. Try to hang on to a bit of the laidbackness now that you’re back in the whirlwind of Singapore!!!! xox

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