Friday, March 30, 2012

Sailing in the Whitsunday Islands: The End

One afternoon Tom and Brad jury-rigged a harness and hoisted Brad up the mast. BOYS. Brad said it was a little wobbly up there, but managed to get this picture of our group before I gently reminded him that his wife was great with child and would really not like to raise this baby on life-insurance money.

On sailing trips like this, it always amazes me how 7 people can live on a 35' boat together for 7 days and still find time for quite solitude. Somehow you seem to find a quiet place to read, relax, think or nap when you need it. There is something wonderful about being on the water in those quiet moments that refreshes the soul.
During some of the snorkeling expeditions I stayed back on the boat, especially in places that felt "sharky." Turns out, I have shark intuition because they did see sharks in those places! Pregnant girls just don't need that added stress. I love seeing these pictures now: looks like they had a James Bond kind of day :).
The return sail back to the marina is always bitter sweet. For me, I know I'll get land sick within a few hours and be swaying back and forth for days and days. No one really wants the trip to end. Yet, we ran out of ice days ago and even though we've rationed the food perfectly, there is not much left of the scraps that still looks appetizing. Somewhere out there air conditioning and cold drinks are waiting for us. Maybe even ice cream? Yes, definitely ice cream. And a shower.
With kisses and hugs we parted with Glen, Chad, and Diana on Hamo Island. Back in Brisbane, Michael picked us up at the airport and we were eager to tell him all about our sailing adventures. Michael and Georgia were kind enough to open their home to us that night and even prepared an over-the-top Aussie-style BBQ. We gorged. They spoiled us with gifts for little bee. Tom and Todd got squared away with their camper van and made preparations for the next 10 days on the road. We visited and played with Michael's puppy, MC. It was lovely. The following morning Michael and Georgia drove us to the airport. I might have cried a little when we said goodbye, because you see, Australia is a looooong ways away and I don't know when I'll see them next. 
But we know we'll be back. Thanks for tagging along on our adventures in Oz! xoxo

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hills Inlet and White Haven Beach on Whitsunday Island

For once, I'm going to shush-up and let these pictures speak for themselves.


Monday, March 26, 2012

More Sailing in the Whitsunday's

The following morning we hiked to the Ngaro Ancestral site to see the aboriginal drawings on the cave walls. Tom and Todd braved the slippery rocks and made it to the waterfall. But everyone else was anxious to get in the water and see some fish! We sailed up along Hook Island to our next destination, Langford Island, to do some snorkeling. We spent the next few nights anchoring along the bays of the northern tip of Hook Island where the best snorkeling was to be. February is smack-dab in the middle of Stinger Season and thus, we wore thin mesh suits that covered us head-to-toe to prevent any potential threat of deadly jellyfish stings. Totally attractive, let me tell you, but completely worth it to be sting-free!

It felt so incredible on my pregnant body to be in the water. Swimming was easy and felt almost effortless with flippers and my added buoyancy. The water temperature, heavenly. Fortunately, the weather had turned absolutely glorious, sunny with a nice sea breeze, perfect conditions for both sailing and snorkeling. And of course, there was plenty of just simply hanging out on the boat, which is the best ever.

Our friend Diana amazed me on this trip. Tom and Diana know one another back from Tom's LDS mission in California where Diana's sweet mom was constantly opening their home to feed the missionaries. She has long been a family friend. Diana had a second kidney transplant a few years ago (I hope she doesn't mind me sharing) and has this infectious adventurous spirit about her. Her attitude is that she has this amazing gift and second chance at life and really, she's up for trying anything! It was fun to have her on board and eager to GO and SEE and DO all that was available. Diana brought a fishing pole and caught some beautiful fish, and even cleaned and cooked one up for dinner. Isn't she a doll?

Putting the sails up is always a daily highlight for me. I love seeing the guys out there working with the rigging, cranking on the ropes, checking the gauges, wind speeds, directions, etc. It seems to me that sailing is the perfect guy adventure. With all the gear and equipment and "figuring" involved, they really eat it up. I love to just sit back and watch it all happen. It is a beautiful thing once the sails are up, the motor is off, and we are clipping through the water using only the power of the wind. Nirvana!

Hello Baby Bump! By pregnant belly literally grew inches while in Oz. Truth be told, I had a few "pregnant moments" on the boat when the heat and humidity would get to me and I couldn't find a comfortable position to exist in. In those moments I would take big deep breaths and focus on what the baby and my body needed most. Usually it was rest, so I was conscious not to swim too much or over-do my sun exposure and I prayed for strong breezes that would keep things cool and dry. Or it was Nutella. The baby just needed Nutella. Everyday. One afternoon I stripped to practically nothing but a hand towel (grrrr-owl) and laid underneath an open hatch to let the breeze wash over me. Everyone on the boat was very kind and understanding, especially if I needed to stand up rudely during dinner and run to the back of the boat to stick my face in the wind.

It was fun to take the dinghy to shore and explore around the beaches, finding patterned sea shells and bright blooming flowers on trees I'd never seen. The Whitsunday's are designated National Park land, therefore most of the islands are remote with no services of any kind. The beaches might have a sign, a trail head, or a washed up flip-flop, but other than that they haven't been inhabited in hundreds of years if ever at all.

And finally this picture...cause I thought it was cute. We kept taking the most ridiculous pictures and couldn't quite get our faces right squinting into the sun, which was making us giggly. Funny how I tend to like those ones the best :). This guy: he gets to me.
But wait...there's still more!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Babymoon Adventures: Sailing the Whitsunday Islands

Before I met my boss, I had no idea where the Whitsunday Islands were. But I soon learned that he had a 35' catamaran chartered there and before long I was keenly aware of this little slice of heaven tucked away along the Great Barrier Reef. You see, this boss of mine is possibly the most generous person on the planet. And what do you do when your boss offers you his yacht to sail the islands? Well, you call CaptainBrotherMan and say "Get thee hence to Australia and sail me pregnant belly around those turquoise waters, matey." And much to our pleasure, he did! Tom and Todd and some friends rendezvoused with us on Hamilton Island and for the next 7 days our cozy crew of 7 sailed around the Whitsunday's as Kings and Queens of Black Diamond.

The good people at Queensland Yacht Charters indeed treated us as royalty, which happens when you are friends of the owner.  See? It pays to be my friend! (Well, this one time it did, but really this is more the exception than will ever be the rule). Once at Airlie Beach we quickly got settled onto the boat and found a pizza joint at Able Point Marina to stuff ourselves. The following morning some of us went shopping to provision our supplies for the week, while others were oriented on all things Black Diamond from the staff. After being suited up with stinger suits, loading the boat, topping up the tanks, and waving goodbye...we motored Black Diamond away from the marina. Everyone was jittery and excited; pulling away from the marina is always such a thrill! 
It rained heavily the first couple of days, but this was to be expected in the summer wet months. We soon found that the rain wasn't much of a deterrent and even helped magnify the beauty of the waterfalls at our first anchoring point: Nara Inlet on Hook Island. The bright yellow rain coats provided not only shelter from the downpour, but spot-on Teletubby impersonations.
Exhibit A:
Exhibit B: 
Ok, so. I'm really the only one that looked like a Teletubby, but at 7 months pregnant I suppose there are worse things I could be impersonating. I can't think of any, but. My self-esteem is plummeting as I type this. Moving on. In the late afternoon the rain had let up and we were taking in the gorgeous views, prepping for dinner, playing Bananagrams and whatnot when all of a sudden we heard a loud squawking noise from the top of the boat. A beautiful wild cockatoo had flown from the surrounding trees and was making his grand presence known. Diana, who we soon learned is not afraid of anything-at-all, started feeding the bird cashews. Suddenly the bird flew up and landed on her arm, eager for more! This was obviously not this bird's first experience crashing a catamaran party. We all took turns feeding the bird and letting it land on our arms. It was such a fun, unexpected way to start our sailing adventures.
That night we celebrated my older brother's birthday! Tom and I are only 1 week apart (plus 9 years) and I was honored to be able to celebrate with him in such a gorgeous surrounding. We made him a chocolate Wacky Cake from scratch, to make our mother proud and because in our family it's hardly worth celebrating a birthday without it.  Happy Birthday Tom! I love you so stinkin' much, Cap'n.