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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

Sailing and Snorkeling and Tsunamis...

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 8 April 2007 | Views [1326]



How much adventure can three days at sea hold? Enough to fill an ocean!

Three days on the Atlantic Clipper touring the Whitsundays, and we've deservingly earned our sea legs.

The Whitsundays are a cluster of islands off the coast of Australia and a popular adventure destination for backpackers. With nothing but a bathing suit, a towel, a box of Goon (expletory post coming soon), and enough sea sick pills to sedate Japan, we set out for the islands.

Without knowing our specific route, we saw most of the Whitsunday Islands. We looped around the northernmost head of the top island and wove our way down south through the islands and estuaries with nary an upchuck in sight! Several times we made stopovers sand islands and some of the major islands to explore and drink in the scenery:

The weather for our junket was as varied as the fish we saw in the reef; we saw perfect blue skies and sun, hail, horizontal rain, thunderstorms, etc, etc…

The Whitsundays Islands are where postcard photographers go when they die. The scenery ideal, the waters as blue as the sky and crystal clear, they are islands of perfection. Even when you’re on the boat, if the weather’s nice, you can see the reef and all its inhabitants. On the days when the sun shone, we spent languorous hours on deck or snorkeling through the Great Barrier Reef. Our second day on the ocean was struck by some of the worst wind and rain storms the islands have seen in some time, so our skipper (this was his last trip through the islands before he left to captain a boat in the south of France) decided it would be good to kill the engines and let the sails fill with wind and take us. Neither of us had ever been on a sailboat that large, and it was a little frightening to stand on deck and watch the wind tilt the boat so, submerging the portholes on the starboard side! But our fear was broadly eclipsed by the excitement of truly sailing through the Whitsundays. Only when we turned to see the concern lining deep ruts in the skipper’s brow did we realize that we were caught in serious winds; later he told us that we were doing about thirty knots!

With quite a night of partying behind us:

our final day came upon us too soon and we departed the boat for our last snorkeling campaign, but not before Skipper gave us permission to jump off the top deck into the ocean; a jump of about 20 feet:

Once back on board, the crew gathered all the guests on the top deck to cheerfully inform us that there had just been an earthquake near the Solomon Islands, sending a tsunami our way. The skipper's solution? Pull anchor and wait it out. So for a few tense hours we all sat below deck waiting for Poseidon to unleash his fury upon us. Our nerves were spared as we escaped the catastrophe, though others further along the coast were not as lucky; our hearts and prayers go out to the families and victims.

Back on land, still rolling from the sea like drunken sailors, we bid a welcome farewell to Airlie Beach and headed down the coast to Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island.

Tags: Adrenaline

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