Provisioning the boat
Grahame showing us how to use the radio to call for HELP!!!!
The briefing room…..”Now HOW do you read one of these charts?” Note Danny’s brand new Georgia hat.
Mooring the boat
Who’s a pretty bird?
Michael and Danny left the hotel at 8:00 to take the luggage to the boat while Ruth and I packed up the food….an amazing amount for only 7 days!!! We were met at the boat by Grahame from Cumberland Charter Services and we spent the next several hours outfitting the boat and being briefed about the boat, the ocean and all of the procedures. He was wonderful at this job, keeping it light but getting to all of the important bits as well. He quickly caught on that we were out to have a good, sarcastic time and he joined in as well.
He had several funny comments…..the first was that if you cant figure out how to work a life jacket then that is just natural selection at work. He also said that he once had to tell someone that they couldn’t take a boat out because he wasn’t comfortable with their ability to take care of it. His comment to us was…. “Sorry mate….you’re an idiot!!!!”
All of the charter companies require that they talk to the boats on the radio at least two times each day. These call-in’s are called SKEDS (we think that it is short for “Schedules”). The first is at 8:30 in the morning, where they ask where you are going that day and the second time is at 1:00 in the afternoon where they want to know where you are mooring or anchoring for the evening. You are only allowed to be moving between 8:30 and 4:00.
The boat is beautifully outfitted, with extra sheets, tons of towels, binoculars, full kitchen, stereo, TV/DVD, BBQ grill, life jackets, wet weather clothing, first aid kits, tool boxes and much more that I have forgotten here.
We also rented our wetsuits, fins, goggles and snorkels. The guy running the shop was from Niagra Falls and joked that he was here with the “Witness Protection Program” and that his real name was Guido. He was an amazing judge of sizes and quickly got us outfitted with everything we needed.
We were then off to the final briefing room. Grahame pulled out a maritime map and went thru all of the islands, noting dangers to watch for and fun things to see. Michael and I are both glad that Danny and Ruth have done this so many times since it was a bit overwhelming!!!!
We finally climbed aboard the Serendipity, with Grahame joining us for the first part of the trip. He helped us to get out of the harbor and then showed everyone how to set the anchor, furl the sails and other miscellaneous details. One good thing that happened was that Danny was having trouble steering the boat, and Grahame realized that the rudders hadn’t been centered properly after the last maintenance, so he was able to take care of that for us.
After about 45 minutes, about 11:30, Grahame climbed in his dingy and headed back to Abel Point Marina, and we were off on our own. We put up the sails and had a great time sailing along for about an hour, but then had to bring them down as the wind wouldn’t allow us to easily go to our first stop. We then motored into the bay.
According to the guide books, the Whitsunday Islands are actually two drowned mountain ranges cut off from the mainland by geologic events. This is an amazing place, with land around on many sides. You almost feel as if you are sailing in a huge bay. The water is a brilliant blue/green and very clear.
Our first cool animal sighting came just a few minutes into our solo trip…..a dolphin appeared over the Starboard side and surfaced a couple of times before we lost sight of him. The second sighting was a Sea Turtle. The funny story about that sighting is that we were navigating between two reefs and Danny was skippering the boat while the other three stood at the front and sides of the boat watching for coral reef sightings. He said that it was a bit disconcerting when all three of us started jumping up and down and pointing energetically to the port side of the boat.
We anchored about 3:40 at Narra Inlet, which is part of Hook Island. There were about 9 boats anchored in this bay, but we were spaced out so that you didn’t hear anything from anyone else. I cannot say that the others didn’t hear us!!!!
We had a cup of tea and bickies (Ruth made wonderful chocolate chip ones) and went down to get everything set up, including making the bed and unpacking all of the linens. At about 7:00 the guys started the grill and we soon enjoyed steaks, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, baked potatoes, salad, and ice cream with raspberries for dinner.
We were visited several times by Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and found that they were extremely tame and would take food out of our hands. We had a great time watching and photographying them….except for the one that tried to steal a plastic box of clothes pegs….he probably thought that it had food in it.
We ended the night by turning off all of the boat lights and enjoying the stars. I have not seen so many stars in a long time…..it was beautiful. Our bed has a hatch just above it and it was lovely to open it and stare out at the stars as we drifted off to sleep with the sea breezes blowing thru the cabin.