Friday, May 10, 2013

Reefer Madness 2

Little did I know that the Whitsunday Islands are not part of the Great Barrier Reef.  I didn't know that until I was, uhh, actually floating in the ocean between the Whitsunday Islands.


However "The Whitsundays" are super beautiful and cool and worth visiting, them not being a part of the GBR notwithstanding.

We started our 2-day, 2-night sailing journey at the liquor store stocking up for the trip.  There are so many things that are awesome about the sailboat we chose, On Ice, but BYOB and a huge fridge to keep it in was definitely at the top of the list.

On our first evening we just drove out to sea as far as we could so we'd be starting from a good spot in the morning.  We anchored.  We cracked open beers.  We took pictures of the sunset.  This picture sums it up nicely:

You know what's crazy about being on a boat (and subsequently, minimal access to electronics)?  You are in bed at 10 p.m.  Nothing says I'm 100 Years Old quite like missing the nightly news (not that we had access to TV anyway) but it's good we hit the hay so early because we had to be up early, to see this:

Sunrise at Whitehaven Beach.

Whitehaven Beach is the most famous beach in all of the Whitsundays.  It has fine white sand and is a Must See for all tourists, hence why were up at the ass crack of dawn so we could see it before anyone else could get there.

There are many tour boats to choose from and many, many of them are hella skanky.  We spent a good deal of time laughing at and feeling superior to those on the boat Atlantic Clipper, which is basically a seafaring frat party.  It holds 53 people, as where ours held 10.  The median age of our boat was probably 32 and doubt spread a lot of herpes.  The crazy thing, though, from what I can tell our trip cost a mere $69 more than theirs for a trip of the same duration.  I can't fathom why anybody would chose that over our peaceful, spacious boat but I'm probably just jealous because I would be openly mocked and shunned if I showed my pudgy, white ass on their boat.

I found it interesting that of the 10 passengers 8 of us were expats now living and working in Australia.  The other 2 were mothers who had come from the Mother Land to visit their kids.  I think that says a lot about who travels in this country and props up the tourism industry.  I hope they keep that in mind when the economy starts to slow down (it has) and people start vilifying the dirty foreign workers who are stealing all the jerbs (they are).

We were 2 South Africans (they're everywhere in this country), 2 Canadians, 2 Scots, 1 Irishman, 1 German and us.  I am always fascinated by the citizenship breakdown in situations like this.  There is never, ever an American in sight.  Ever.  Every time I overhear a Canadian speaking I get all excited......until they drop the telltale "aboot" and I know I will remain the lone, token hoser of the group.  Where the hell are all the Americans?!

Ok, too much talking, not enough Whitehaven Becah.  Here's more:

It's amazing what you can see and do when you're not up until 4 a.m. doing body shots off a dread-locked teenager.

When we were walking to Whitehaven Beach we saw this huge-ass spider:

With its leg span it was bigger than my hand.  Crazy huge.

We then went and did some stand-up paddle boarding, which is a huge aquatic activity here.

It was pretty fun but I did lose my balance and oh so gracefully plummet into the ocean at one point.

We also went snorkeling in a few spots, which I have zero pictures of.  And let me justify that to myself.  Martin has been saying for months now "We should get an underwater camera" or "We should rent an underwater camera".  But you know what?  Screw an underwater camera.  I don't want to look at 5,000 pictures of fish and reef, much less would anybody else on the planet want to see them.  It's like taking pictures of the JumbTron at a concert.  Nobody.  Effing.  Cares.  It's boring; nobody wants to see that crap.  So let this be my way of telling Martin, "No, we're not getting an underwater camera."

More drinking, more snorkeling, more sunrises and sunsets.  Rinse and repeat.  And for me, napping.  It ain't a holiday for me unless I get in two, preferably three, naps in a day.

Oh, and I did see a shark!  For real this time.  A teeny, tiny reef shark but damn it, it was a shark!  In the wild!  They look like this:

Seriously, though, it was tiny.  Not even a foot long.  And I also saw 2 tiny sting rays.  They were about this size and looked really, really white (like moi):

Two things I saw that were decidedly not tiny were a Maori wrass and Green humphead parrot fish.

These fish were huuuuuuge.  Though not longer than a full grown adult like that second picture.  Damn near, though.  It was probably from the top of my head almost to my knees.  They were so big, dumb and slow.  They did not care that humans were all up in their business.  They were too big, dumb and slow to even notice.

Due to the timing of our flights we had to spend a full day on the mainland.  I tried in vain to find a 3-night sailing trip that fit our schedule but no such luck.  So I had to find something to entertain us on our extra day, as Airlie Beach is a seaside backpacker town that was, unsurprisingly, having a foam party the night we were there.  See above re: skanky; frat party; herpes.

So I had a genius idea, that I planned to keep secret from Martin until the moment we departed for our adventure.  Reef fishing!

That is, until Mother Nature pissed all over that idea, quite literally.

It was too rainy and windy to safely go out so our awesome day was cancelled.  In search of something to do all damn day day we went to the local used bookstore, made our purchases, then went to the local liquor store.  Books and beer - a kick ass combo.

I bought - and read in 24 hours - World War Z.  Have y'all heard of it before?  If you haven't you will soon as they're making a movie out of it starring Brad Pitt.  It's "An Oral History of the Zombie War".  It's a retelling - past tense - of how the world was overrun by zombies.  It was awesome, if you're into zombie stuff.  Gosh it was good.  The format was so different than any book I'd ever read before and it's impossible to lose interest in it because each story is incredibly short.  And because it's about freaking zombies.

So that was our cruise in the Whitsunday Islands and aborted reef fishing trip.  I'm not too broken up about the fishing, though, because we can quite easily do a similar trip from Brisbane and I love a good lazy day of reading.

One last thing of interest.  You know you're not staying at a 5 star hotel when this classy piece of information is in your hotel info book:

Barf cleaning: one hundred dolla!

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