Three Days without Shorts & Trousers
The top travel destination, for which interns and vacationers alike prepare for half a year and which none of those staying here can do without, has been a sailing tour on the largest living organism in the world for years: the Great Barrier Reef. In the heart of the Queensland Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are made up of 74 gaping, forest-covered islands floating like jewels in the warm waters of the Coral Sea.
It took a long time to plan, but it was carried out spontaneously. At the beginning of October we booked the tour and tickets, lastly the hostel, which, as is usual here in Australia, brought us strong tour discounts. Shortly before the high tourist season and with the most beautiful midsummer temperatures, we dared to go on a three-day sailing tour. Oliver, a shrewd sailor, and I, a prospective sailing apprentice (who will soon be getting a sailing license), pursued the most beautiful of all activities: talking about the correct inclination of the ship's hull and the angle of attack of the mainsail to the wind.
But first things first: Let's show some gratitude, humility and disbelief that we, as children in our early twenties, are allowed to see the most beautiful corners of the world. Lying on the folded foresail and enjoying the nightfall with good music, a good mood, beef and beer at sunset is one of the most incredible experiences I could have dreamed of. That was the general consensus of the five of us.
But now to our real journey. The flight from Brisbane to Prosperpine Airport ran smoothly, the east coast laughed among us. We flew after our workday and had just one additional day off. The first day's hostel where we stayed until departure was very stuffy and smelly. So we quickly made our way into town, after comparing the price and volume of pizza offers (the pocket calculator was used) from the local pizzeria, to share three large pizzas and look around for supplies. After the round of juggling with Victoria Bitter ("Give it a shout!"), we let the evening fade away in the scalding warm hostel pool, where the fights for the two swimming rings were fought manfully.
Paradise greeted us with a bitter surprise: the shoes were rigorously collected and swimming trunks were compulsory on the sailing ship. The crew of the Maxi Apollo consisted of Patrick, the daring captain and diving instructor, who according to many acted like the little brother of Captain Jack-Sparrow, the wild pirate captain from Pirates of the Caribbean, Maxi, the good spirit of the ship, whose Water taxi took over and rescued us from some tricky situations ("water fleas"!), our friendly chef Karl, who prepared the best dishes, and the mate Heidi, who was in control and determined the wind direction.
We spent the first day after the morning embarkation with the sails rigged in the breeze to take the first dive training in the afternoon on "Blue Pearl Day". After too much snorkeling we slipped from the first to the second group as we, impressed by the reefs, tiger fishes and underwater plants, took an extra loop and missed the start of the last group. It was my first attempt at diving: pressure equalization, elevator and fins were mastered after five minutes without any problems. At 10 feet, we almost lost the ventilator when Patrick started messing around with a sea cucumber and invited us into a footie match with it.
After some sunbathing, we took the Maxi Apollo to our nocturnal berth in Nara Inlet, a pretty, isolated bay on the Northern Island. In the evening there was a beer towards sunset as a reward at the farewell songs by the Killers and Jack Johnson. Karl added his share with a beef on rice, which we enjoyed alongside a good conversation until midnight. By the way, one of the best nights of my life :)
The front sail, called the headi, has been converted into a hammock, giving us the coziest spot on the ship. We slept in the cabin with sleeping boxes the size of an American IT workstation (oh, teasing is so wonderful ^^). With a missing blanket, there was a restless night, which was made up for with good flakes, fruit & toast breakfast. Roughly only waking up to the hum of the ship's engines.
The second day was the busiest of all days. Rigged up (always seven men had to struggle at the same time) we went to the eastern Hook Island. The south beaches harbored the most beautiful reefs and an unprecedented wealth of species that could not even be compared to Cairns, while the northern beach attracted huge hordes of fish shoals with microscopic particles floating on the surface. Snorkeling and diving through the undisturbed schools of yellow and red fish is incredible fun.
I did my first dive tour on Saturday morning with two other female Introductory Divers, my other colleagues had already had their underwater experience in Cairns. Since we were a motivated group and had no problems, Patrick, the diving instructor singing and dancing under water and chilled out, took us to a depth of twelve meters, surprisingly deeper than the Certified Divers. Already seen a 1-meter-tall turtle while snorkeling and two mating turtles from the boat, there was a surprise under water: A man-high turtle came up close to us. There were fish up to two meters long, manta rays swam at the bottom. The thirty degree warm weather spoiled us. Between the dives there was then culinary prepared rice and noodles with green salads and dressing and salad sauces, on the return trip crackers & coconut cake. When the storm came up we had to rest at an anchorage between islands instead of the cocktail bar on the beach, for the sake of safety, the cocktail bar on the horizon. To motivate the fifteen-man team, Patrick came up with a few drinking games. The opposing team was loudly denounced with team anthems, so that we disturbed the neighboring boats during their night's rest.
The night was then slept through, the crew set off to Whitehaven Beach at night, we were woken up with a good breakfast on the whitest beach in the world: Whitehaven Beach. Oliver took over the dinghy outboard engine before I could get to work (nasty!). The sand, sliding out of your hands like powdered sugar, loves to destroy cameras.
Walks on the beach and Superman games in the water (photos are available on request) made the three hours at the beach pass quickly. The best thing about this sailing trip was the unlimited time you could devote to diving and beach stays. The crew was the calmest and most pleasant that I could imagine, they joked and were amazed, they always contributed to the joy afterwards.
Back on land, land sickness began! If it took two hours to overcome the nausea on board the ship, it was now done the other way around. After cake and coffee we went to the airport with probably the most expensive taxi transfer, they rip-off tourists with mischief by their monopolies.
Satisfied and tanned, we returned to our workplace, everyone who stays here is recommended the sailing experience. Postcards have been written and will reach you soon.
At the airport, everyone suddenly wanted a window seat, so we abused the budget airline and booked the best views across the plane. After all, we were two hours early at the airport and had to while away the time buying cocoa and postcards.
Satisfied, I fell into bed and fell asleep for ten hours. Here in Australia..