Showing posts with label Ocean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ocean. Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Australia: 14. Pirate Sailin' The Seven Seas of The Whitsundays


Hey Guys - Sal here reporting from Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia.
Wow 6 months in Oz already!
Think when I last left a blog I had just finished travelling with the Australian carnival circuit. Well, they were good enough to pay me for my time which got me down to Airlie Beach further down the east coast which is the best place to get out to the Whitsunday Islands, something not to leave Australia without seeing with your own eyes.

Anybody who knows me well, will know of my fantasy of pirates and adventure (this was a girl who dreamt of being Indiana Jones sidekick) - well I found the perfect boat to sail the seven seas of the Whitsundays.....for three days

The Solway Lass M'Hearties....she's a beauty
A 127ft 'Tallship Defender' ship named The Solway Lass - a proper pirate ship named by the Scottish with 10 sails and a Jolly Roger flag and everything. I was sold! If there was going to be one ship I would sail it was going to be this beauty. Its was actually haunted by a past captain that died on the's been through a lot since 1902 

On board a Pirate Ship...




The Three Day Voyage

I had taken it upon myself to map out my adventures at sea, where we were heading for the next three days on board the Solway Lass around Australia's Whitsundays Islands. We would first board the boat at night from 1. Abel Point off Airlie Beach for our captain 'Lloyd' and sail us into the moonlight to drop anchor at 2. Refuge Bay on the tip of Hook Island and then set off on Day One to 3. Tongue Bay. I have a confession...If I could have one wish, it would be that I didn't suffer from sea be fair the water was very rough on route to Tongue Bay actually spilling over on deck - some techniques you might like to try is stick cotton wool in your ear and suck an orange but man it was HELL ON EARTH!!! 

But first phase of becoming a pirate I think..... Sitting up at the bow of the Solway Lass with nothing out ahead of us but ocean...70% of the earth y'know




After anchoring on dry land at Tongue Bay on Hamilton Island, relieved to get on dry land we took a short walk through the forest to reach the look out of Whitehaven Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the purest white sands zig zagging its way dreamily into the island. 

Our crew consisted of 'Lloyd' our skipper, 'Andrew and Damo' being the deckhands, 'Kylie' the Chef, 'Kate' at the on board bar, 'Max' who's the volley (the skivvy)  and 'Trevor' our security -- I'm sure he'd be seeing off any of those pirates that would come aboard. Being a guest on the ship though doesn't mean we'd escape helping out on deck - when the wind picked up, the mammoth sails needed to be raised and the girls would climb the masts to fix the sails to them - very impressive! it was good fun to help haul them up as deck hands too...

'Are you ready with the main sail?'
'Yes, B'osun!'
'Haul Away, Pull, Pull, Pull' .....hard work, blood and sweat 


We continued sailing north past Border Island and round the top of Hook Island towards Blue Pearl Bay, but of course being at sea on a pirates ship is anything but boring. We would pass the time relaxing in the bow nets, swinging off the rope swing - or playing pirate games on deck when the sea's where a little bit calmer.
We dropped anchor at 4. Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island for our second night at sea. The ocean as flat as a sheet of glass with millions of the most magnificent stars blazoned across the dark sky - if there's anywhere where you want to see stars...out to sea is the place with the peace and tranquillity (A couple on their honeymoon were passengers on board with us - how perfect for them.)
On Day Two of the voyage, I awoke in my cabin to the repulsive stench of sewage or something leaking out the through the cabin walls. Urghhh now that was enough to make you puke if not the choppy seas. It was good to get off the boat and onto the beach of Blue Pearl Bay to do some snorkelling alone the corals and reefs - when a HUGE sea turtle came swimming past me nearly making me choke as I breathed in awe and a mouthful of water with it. But soon disaster would strike, I brushed my hand against a sharp coral and tore the skin on my middle finger, reddening the water around me with drifting blood - ahh shark!! Of course I had to go back to the ship and be nursed at, it was so badly torn I thought I'd need stiches, ummmm....would have had to been a amateur boat job which I wasn't keen on. Antiseptic water and dressing would have to do for this injured sailor :(
I went back to snorkel on though, with a rubber glove haha. We pressed on as the winds picked up (oh no) travelling south around Hayman Island on the Hayman Channel with the sailing becoming quite a challenge. We tucked into 5. Black Island for more snorkelling as well as being bombarded by pesky black crows stealing our things on the beach and then fighting the other girls to the shower room below deck.  
We dropped anchor for the night in 6. Cid Harbour in a place called Saw Mill Bay to watch the gorgeous sunset to mark the night to have a little Pirate Party with the ships own fancy dress accessories, keeping lookout for any foreboding tall ships on the horizon. Eat your heart out Capt. Jack Sparrow.....
or... maybe not
 The crew had made us a real good old fashioned banquet for the final night spent at sea - such good service from a Pirate Ship which was actually deliberately sunk in the past to obliterate all the vermin. Day Three was the voyage home to mainland Australia and my finger is still in need of first aid which I'm hoping will heal in time for my fruit picking job at the end of the month. Damo and Andrew took us by motorboat after dislodging in from the beach to Saw Mill Beach to climb the painstakingly sweaty walk uphill into the forest to the top of the lookout over our sailing route over Hook Island....
It was well worth it....  
See for your self....
So after a few turbulent three days - my adventures at sea are over and back on the steadiness of dry land. If you ever come to Airlie Beach get yourself onto the Solway Lass...the only sailing experience you'll ever need.
At least I passed the Pirate Training..

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Australia: 11. Journey To The Great Barrier Reef

My 'stripper' friend came back to our room one morning and told me that she'd been out to the Great Barrier Reef, snorkelling. A small operator in the village were doing 'Eco Tours' out to the reef to explore. I had planned to go to Cairns to see the reef but here in Cape Tribulation, there were less people and less disturbance to the marine life and just hearing the word 'ECO' just swayed my decision. Of course I favour organisations which minimise the disturbance of the environment and to be honest if you wanted to be 100 % ecologically friendly, you wouldn't even travel and go places and not step foot around Planet Earth - life would kinda be pointless don't you think? so I signed up and was heading out nice and early on a high speed boat transporting me to the rainforest to the reef zipped up in a stinger suit brimming with excitement that finally I will be visiting one of the great wonders of the natural world. 


But here's some info about it...courtesy of Lonely Planet. really I didn't know too much about it just that it was just one of Planets Earth's most precious treasures. The Reef itself is actually larger than the Great Wall of China stretching along the Queensland seaboard from south of the Tropic of Capricorn to the Torres Strait which is in the south of New Guinea and is archived to be between 600,000 and 18 million years old - that's pretty damn old! its said to attract about two million visitors a year but marine biologists and conservationists are continuously growing concerned that the Reef is dying out from warmer seas and the oceans rise in acidification because of yep you've guessed it, climate change and global warming.
Now I was one of those two million visitors and I now had the opportunity to see this spectacular showcase of natural beauty while it was here. Lucky I was doing it out here in the Far North area as the reef was only located 30km from the shore whereas in the
southern parts its way out there beyond 300km.


After about a 40 minute speedy journey, our Skipper dropped anchor at a small sand island explaining how to snorkel and all the hand help symbols and all that - I was just eager to get in and slapping my flippers on with an underwater camera - I dived in never having snorkelled this far out in the open waters and was transported to a different world hidden beneath the calmness of the marine ocean surface



Wow! One of my dreams was to the visit the Great Barrier Reef and I was extremely glad that I'd chosen do it but here. I went for a 2 hr snorkelling trip where there are no other boats around and the reef is totally unspoilt. It is like being transformed to another world as soon as your head goes under the water, its magical - swimming alongside turtles and fishes, watching the corals pulsating with collages of colours its a must do in life in general. I even found a star fish!


Sea Turtle
Sea Turtle

Some more snaps from my underwater camera.....the colours are not done justice


wow greatest biodiversity of an ecosystem on earth....check out some stats

1,500 species of fishies
400 types of coral
4000 breeds of clams
800 echinoderms like those funky sea cucumbers!
500 varieties of seaweed
200 birds
6 types of turtles!

STOP GLOBAL WARMING and come see this!!


Won't forget that. Ticked off the list. Well there's been many adventures so far but that's the general memories of it but I'm heading back south to Cairns now to go explore the rainforest a bit more down there and then hopefully get some more work on a farm...with so many cool things to do your hard earned cash dwindles away so quickly - we'll see.

Hope you'll good! (weather is 30 degrees - nice!!!!)