The Whitsunday Islands have always been a place of fantasy for me. The kind of mythical faraway land that you see in social media posts by travel companies. White sands and turquoise seas, almost so bloody perfect they can’t possibly live up to the almost definitely photoshopped images that get banded about.
The British Defender was the boat we boarded, with almost enough alcohol to sink it outright. In fact the second largest stash of booze the crew had ever seen – proud moment.
The weather was choppy as we were still hot on a recent cyclone’s tail, so we set sail from sheltered Airlie Beach instead of Mackay and as soon as I climbed aboard I felt at home. The Skipper Hainsy was clearly born into the wrong era, he was a good old fashioned pirate for sure and Bubbles our hostess and chef a really chilled local girl who is the epitome of cool.
The scenery was stunning and the waters various shades of blues and green, all glistening in the afternoon sun. We lounged around on the deck of the ship, chatting and cracked open the rum as the sun went down.
We headed to Whitehaven Beach the next day and all those fantasy images became a reality. Even with the cyclone’s debris the sand was pure and white and apparently used to make the lens of the Hubble telescope because it’s so fine. Stinger suits on we dived into the waves and I thought I’d invented a new sport of body surfing – apparently not! Who knew just using your body as a board and seeing how far the wave could take you had already been discovered?!
I went diving but sadly the aftermath of the cyclone meant that visibility was so poor it was like swimming around in a vat of creamy chicken soup. I could barely see the person in front of me so it was completely disorientating.
As night fell we got our pirate gear on for our party in the middle of the ocean. Waving around a cutlass, eating with it as a knife and using it as a general life prop turned out to be the most natural thing in the world. This was also to be my first experience of ‘goon’, Australian boxed wine. I was expecting paint stripper, the kind of wine that gives you an Esther Rantzen smile, but no it went down a treat so we danced, laughed and sang till the early hours.
This trip filled me with gratitude and a complete love for life. I realised I was totally and utterly content, living in the moment and enjoying every single second. My face began to ache from the permanent smile that spread across it and I’ll be forever happy that I experienced it with a bunch of people that I plan to keep in my life forever.