A Sunsail Whitsundays Yacht Charter continued...
The following morning we awoke and set course for Border Island. We’d heard that the diving and snorkeling here was well worth a look. In the past, we had snorkeled in other areas of the Great Barrier Reef, including spots around Cairns and in the outer reef. However, we were completely unprepared for what we were about to experience.
Cateran Bay offered a concentration of coral, crustation and color of the likes I have never seen before. Prime examples of coral species clustered together in a competition for space and grace. The plant and marine life – a ferocity of explosive color. Nature's form sculptured by nature’s hand.
Following our completely invigorating snorkel, the last of our senses were satisfied with a delicious lunch before setting sail to Cid Harbour on the western side of Whitsunday Island. Cid Harbour is a large anchorage composed of several smaller beaches and bays. Much of Whitsunday Island is a national park area and there is a lovely short walk through the rainforest, between some of the beaches. There are also facilities ashore should you wish to enjoy a beach BBQ, or simply a picnic.
Today brings with it good south easterly (trade) winds and the arrival of two more charter guest friends. We motored off in early morning back to Hamilton Island where we were met at the entrance of the marina by a couple of guys from the Sunsail team in their tender. One jumped aboard and expertly reversed the charter boat straight into the berth whilst the other on the quay secured the ropes – talk about stress free!!
Our stop back in Hamilton Island was brief as we knew there was an excellent trade wind to be taken advantage of. We collected our extra guests, gathered an armful of fresh crusty bread from the bakery and threw off our mooring lines.
With the southerly winds at 13-18 knots, we set our bareboat sails for a 3 hour cruise down wind to Nara Inlet. In the Whitsundays, the sailing is very often brilliant, and today was one of those days. Our recent Beneteau 423 bareboat with its large slab main and overlapping foresail sailed beautifully, as we all took turns between lazing in the cockpit and helming.
Nara Inlet is a popular anchorage on Hook Island and it’s easy to understand why. Protected from all prevailing winds, and framed in a lush vegetation of green, Nara Inlet is not only safe, but also extraordinarily pretty. We anchored in the millpond-like bay and set ashore in the motorized tender for a walk and a little exploration. We are not the only mariners who have enjoyed the tranquility of this bay. Only a short walk up the hill is a cave adorned with ancient aboriginal painting, which although not the best I’ve seen, is still definitely worth a look. In any case, the view from half way up, looking back over the bay was worth the walk and a great opportunity to stretch the legs.
Being so impressed with the snorkeling on Day Two, we just had to head back to another spot to give our new guests a taste of the same beauty we’d experienced earlier in the charter. Instead of heading back to Border Island, we moored at Dumbell, the smaller island to the west of Border. The underwater display here was equally as good - and in fact probably offered even more colorful little fish to muse at. Our guests thought it was the best coral they had seen – which is quite an accolade considering they are both Whitsundays locals. If you snorkel these reefs around low-mid tide, you will have the best proximity to the coral with only a few feet of water separating you from the colorful masses (which should not be touched). To appreciate these spots no scuba gear is necessary – just your mask, snorkel and fins - all of which is supplied and fitted free for charter guests on arrival at the Sunsail base.
That afternoon, we had a great sail down to Whitehaven beach where we had the most stunning late lunch imaginable. Imagine this………your boat is anchored off Whitehaven Beach, the white sand is glistening; the water is clear and blue; there is a friendly turtle that surfaces now and then around the boat. You are sitting in the cockpit enjoying a bottle of chilled white wine and the table is covered in fresh and delicious food – a massive plate of fresh grilled King Salmon topped with masses of garlic and chilli marinated prawns, all finished with a squeeze of lemon; a delicious Greek Salad complete with marinated black olives and feta cheese; dolmades (Greek stuffed vine leaves) and crispy oven fried garlic bread! Lunch was enjoyed ‘European style’ over the space of the next hour, savoring the flavors of the food, the wine and the simplicity of the moment. Australian produce really is world class. Life doesn’t get much better than this!
We arise early and head back to the Sunsail base at Hamilton Island. Today is our last day and the boat needs to be back in the marina by 10am. With decent wind, we made the trip in less than 2 hours and enjoyed our final breakfast on deck, as we sailed past the northern side of Hamilton Island and dreamed already of our next sailing adventure.
Back at the Sunsail base, the staff was once again excellent and offered a complete de-briefing including a request for feedback on the boat and their service. As an overall operation, Sunsail receives full points in every department – the boat was in excellent condition and the staff were prompt and efficient; they even remembered our names which, in any industry with high turnover is quite a feat and a personal touch which is always appreciated (thanks Sam). The location of the Sunsail base also gets full marks. It really is difficult to imagine a better cruising paradise than the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island, which is also pretty in its own right. It is the perfect place to jet in to meet your charter yacht.
Not only are the islands, temperature and winds first class but the Australian first world infrastructure and organization makes your vacation as easy as it could be. The locals are also a bonus
with their efficient and personable attitude and are also a real treat on a Whitsundays yacht charter vacation. For all of us this Sunsail Whitsundays bareboat yacht charter really was full of
those quiet little moments of inner contemplation: ‘this is the life!’ Thank You Sunsail Australia – for a perfect bareboat charter.
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