Sailing in Australia 
in the Whitsunday Islands

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To make the flight from Germany to Australia somewhat more pleasant, it is best to make a stop in Asia.
We took a flight from Berlin to Athens, and from there to Sydney through Bangkok. This way we were never in the plane for longer than 11 hours.

In Australia there are tactical complicated sites, but there are also sites in which sailing can be connected with other activities.
We chose the Whitsundy Islands for our travel.

The Whitsundays lie on the east coast between Mackay and Townsville.

Map from AustraliaMap from Whitsundays

It's a group of 74 islands. The major island was named Whitsunday by the famous discoverer James Cook, when he entered it on Whitsunday 1770, and the name has been attached to the whole area. While sailing in this area James Cook wrote in his Logbook: "It seems like sailing in a safe harbor."
This is because of the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately James Cook did not know about the existence of the Barrier Reef until he damaged his Endavor by sailing onto it.

picture from the reef

Our crew consisted of four people and my three year old daughter, we chose a First 32s5, which turned out to be verry good.

picture from the yacht

We started our tour at the end of March.
In Australia at this time the autumn begins and in the north (beyond 30 degree south) the rainy season starts and one has to be prepared for heavy storms. At this time the temperatures of air and water are between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. The wind usually comes from the southeast and has a strength of 3 to 6 Beaufort.

The best time to sail is September to December, but the Whitsundays can be treated as whole-year-site.

The area is characterized by the strong catabatic winds from the islands, whos altitude is more than 100 meters. Another features are the jet principle, which can occur between the two islands and the strong tide and flow.

But in all cases it's possible to find a bay, which gives protection.

picture from the island

We went by car from Sydney to Airlie Beach, which is a distance of 2000 km. (It's strongly recommended to plan more than one week for this tour.) Our boat left from the harbor of Ailrlie Beach, which is suitable for stocking up on provisions. The area is one of the pleasure boating capitals in Australia.

Every day at 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM we spoke by radio to our charterbasis to get the weather forecast and other helpful hints. based on this information we planned our daily trip. It would be impossible to tell about all the adventures, but it should be stated, that diving or snorkeling is an adventure, that will remain in one's mind for a long time.

picture from underwater

Activities are possible for every personal taste in the area. Adding to the bathing possibilities on the miles-long white beaches one can collect stranded goods; but there are also resorts on some islands and an airport on Hamilton Island. One who prefers to angle for an magnificent tropical fish will also find a calm bay to do this.

picture from whithaeven

A trip to an arbitrary island is always worth doing, but one should be carefully if one walks through the bush so as to prevent waking a sleeping Python.

picture from island

A special highlight is the trip by hydroplane directly form yacht to the great barrier reef.
More detailed information about such activities can be found in the usual guides.

For every sailor I strongly recommend the book "The 100 Magic Miles of the Great Barrier Reef - The Whitsunday Island" by David Colfeld. Clearly experience in coastal sailing is necessary.
The trip will be present in mind forever. The trip will remain in your memories forever.

If you have further question please contact me.

© by Frank Reinecke 1995

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