Rain squalls and anchor watch bring the Flying Fish trainees back to reality

Day 46 – Wednesday 25th August

An early start today to leave on the tide for an overnight passage. We were given strict instructions not to over pack but to bring our foulies. Surely unnecessary in the perfect Queensland weather? Everyday had been hot and sunny: real holiday brochure material. Unfortunately Richard was soon proved right.

After leaving Airlie Beach we headed out towards the Whitsunday Islands under the instructions of Mike, our assigned skipper for the day. Fay was in charge of the navigation which proved particularly tricky as she only saw the charts minutes before leaving – a ploy by Richard to start to get us out of our comfort zones. The islands and inlets were quite disorientating and at one point we were temporarily headed in the wrong direction.

For the rest of the crew on deck, the islands made stunning scenery and we all joked about the comparison with our sailing experiences in the Solent. However, for the first time the perfect blue sky was cloudy and rain was clearly visible on the horizon. Within half an hour we were caught in a squall that lasted a couple of hours. Our humour dissolved as we cowered in the cockpit to shield ourselves from the wind and rain. ‘Not quite the trip to the beach we expected’ commented Mike as we all tried to find some amusement in that fact that we’d travelled half way around the world in search of perfect sailing conditions. ‘Never would have thought that three days after arriving in Australia I’d be wearing my foulies!’ remarked Fay. In addition, the not so pleasant weather served as an unwanted reminder to some that rough seas equal queasy stomachs.

We eventually made our way to Whitehaven Beach, a picture postcard white sand beach and our final destination. We dropped the sails and after a couple of ‘drive bys’ found a great spot to anchor. We saw our first Aussie turtle splashing around in the shallows about ten metres from the boat, a great morale lifter for the crew who understandably were fascinated.

In his debrief, Richard gave us some feedback from the trip. Our hoists, drops and reefs were great and communication between the crew good, with ‘no faffing’, but we were told we needed to cut down the time spent questioning our actions and begin thinking a few steps ahead.

We had plenty of opportunity to think about all of this during our anchor watch that night, with each of us on deck for one hour every five.