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Entries about sailing

Twilight Racing

"You're wearing raincoats, you should go sailing!"

It was a rainy Wednesday afternoon and we were just walking around Airlie Beach, getting some pancake mix and syrup (real syrup!) for dinner, when we heard the voice behind us.

“Hey, you're wearing raincoats, you should go sailing”

That certainly got my attention. I try to get more information as the guy walks by, but he seems in a hurry and doesn't want to stop, despite being the one who started the conversation. He's pretty vague but mentions a Wednesday evening sailing race where there's sometimes extra space, pulls out his phone and shows us a couple pictures, and a video, then starts to point to a cafe, then changes his mind and just gives us his phone number, saying to text in a half an hour and he'll tell us where to meet. He says it's free, but generally nice if you buy the skipper a beer afterwords. Not a bad deal!

We rush back to the hostel, drop off our bags, and text the guy, “hey, we're in, where should we meet?”

No response.

We decide to walk into town and then text again, “We'd like to join you for sailing, where and when should we meet you?”

Then we get the response, “We'd love for you to go sailing, but you've got the wrong number.” Classic.

We wander around town, on the off chance we'll see him walking around again, and we start getting desperate. Finally, as a last resort I suggest we ask the Yacht Club. We walk in and I don't even know how to ask, “So I heard something about Wednesday night sailing?”
“Oh yes,” the woman replies, “just go sit at that table and I'll see if any of the skippers are still taking people.

Moments later we find ourselves on a sailboat! A 43' Hanse, With a mix of trying to help and trying to stay out of the way of the crew (4 guys) we get the sails set and head out of the slip.

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Anna and I are positioned up by the bow, out of the way and moving for ballast, and I'm in charge of skirting the sail when necessary.

It was a gorgeous evening for a sail, the clouds lifted and it was perfect. Beautiful. Luckily, the race was just for fun and didn't count for anything, since we came in last.

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Posted by smr1188 17:42 Archived in Australia Tagged boats australia sailing racing east_coast Comments (2)

Solway Lass

Stinger suits, sails, and sunsets

Another 'must-do' as you travel the East Coast of Australia is go sailing in the Whitsundays. Made up of 74 islands, it's simply gorgeous, and the Southern start of the Great Barrier Reef. Featuring one of the purest, whitest beaches in the world, it's the kind of trip you cross your fingers for full sun!

There are many boats and tours to choose from, day trips to overnight or even two or three night trips, from party boats to hopefully non-party boats. Ansley (another American that I met in New Zealand and have kept in contact with) had recommended Ragamuffin (a 3 day, 2 night trip), as that was the one she'd done and had loved it. It's a 53' Admirals Cup yacht, and it looked awesome. Although I did actually choose this one and reserve it, it ended up being a slow week and there wasn't enough people booked for that boat to sail, and I got switched / upgraded to Solway Lass. Built in Holland in 1902, she's a classic tall ship with lots of history and the tour was for 3 days and 3 nights!

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We boarded after dinner the first night and motored out of the harbour and into the Whitsundays for a couple hours, before anchoring for the night. Obviously rooms and beds are small, since we're on a boat, but luckily we were only 13 people, on a boat with a capacity to sleep 32. This meant it was mostly 2 people to a room of 4, and gave us a little more room than if it'd been packed. The boat itself is 127' including the bow sprit, and 20' beam, two masts and 12 sails (though the most we had set were 3).

Hmm, I can't believe I didn't take any pictures below or of the berths!

Since it was dark when we left the harbour, we were anxious to wake up and see where we were. We woke up to this...

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Our first stop of the day was Whitehaven Beach. The pristine, super white, famous beach I mentioned before. We anchored on the other side of the island and hiked over to the beach. We got to wear these awesome, sexy, stinger suits for the water since it was still stinger season. There are some intense jellyfish (such as the box jellyfish and the irukandji) that you don't want to mess with.

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The clouds and sun alternated, providing us with everything from storm clouds (complete with rain!) to sunshine and blue sky. It was great to see the difference the sun made, all in just a half an hour!

After we'd spent some time at the beach, we headed up to a lookout point. Unfortunately, there were tons of people about and everyone was so focused on 'getting that perfect picture' that no one seemed aware that everyone else was trying to do the same thing. Which led to lots of frustrated people. We were also on a time schedule because of the tides, we had to get back to the beach or we wouldn't be able to get back to the boat!

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That afternoon we set the sails and the sun came out for a lovely afternoon sail. Off the bowsprit was a net you could hang out on, though it wasn't the most comfortable, it was certainly the most awesome place to hang out, and that's where I spent most of my time!

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Our second day was the snorkeling (and diving if you added that extra) day. I'd been very torn with the diving option, it was additional money, but I'd heard really good things about the area (again, from Ansley). I did decide not to dive, and save that for when I'm farther north, and from what everyone who went diving said, I totally made the right call. Apparently there was barely any visibility and they didn't even see many fish.

We did do a bunch of snorkeling and saw tons of fish. The fish were definitely used to people, some boats (including ours) were even feeding them (at least it was “Great Barrier Reef Approved Fish Food”). I was a little disappointed in the state of the coral, it didn't look so good. My guess was it was too popular of a place with all the boats going there and people not used to having fins continually got too close. Our boat didn't even give out fins to swim with, saying most people damage the coral with them.

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That afternoon we went to another snorkeling spot, but this one had less visibility and we didn't really see much. By that point we were also getting cold and a lot of us didn't stay in the water very long.

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Our third, and final day, involved a bush walk up to a lookout and then an afternoon sail back to the harbour. The weather didn't really cooperate that day and was pretty overcast and rainy. But still such an awesome trip! And of course I felt like I was on a boat still that night and even felt like I was swaying the next day :)

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Posted by smr1188 05:43 Archived in Australia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches boats ocean beach australia tours sand sailing whitsundays east_coast Comments (1)

Fearless

A sailing adventure!

What shall we do in Taupo? We wondered as we drove into town. Lake Taupo is roughly the same size as Singapore...if anyone knows how big Singapore is. Upon checking in at the hostel we noticed a sign for discounted sailing adventure on Fearless. Hey, why not?! We crossed our fingers that the weather would be good and we could get a spot on the boat for the following day.

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The next day we headed down to the docks and secured our spot on the boat. I knew we'd made the right choice when I saw there were bean bag chairs on deck! If I ever have a sailboat, it'll definitely have bean bag chairs on deck.

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We headed out onto the water and set sail. What a gorgeous day.

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Our main destination was the Maori rock carvings that could be seen from the water. Though not ancient, they were still very impressive.

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There was time for a classic Titanic pose and one person even went swimming!
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We also had a nice chat with another American onboard! After sailiing we all hiked over to Huka Falls together.
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Posted by smr1188 17:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls culture sailing new_zealand roadtrip north_island Comments (2)

Tall Ships and Spontaneous Adventures

Spontaneous Adventures in Sydney


View Adventures in the Southern Hemisphere, Part 1 on smr1188's travel map.

Well it was a lazy Friday morning in Sydney, over 80 degrees and we weren't sure what to do. Feeling like we'd seen everything in the area of our hostel and walked just about everywhere else, nothing was jumping out at us for a plan. On our budget we didn't want to spend a lot and weren't feeling up for any museums.

We spent the morning catching up on the internet with friends and pictures and occasionally vocalizing a “What are we doing today?” that was usually met with silence. Next thing we knew, it was after 2pm! We took a break and headed downstairs for some tea, on our way back we passed the bulletin advertizing sailing on one of the local tall ships. We did a double take, it actually looked like a good deal!
$139 value for $40...includes hour and a half sail, mast climb, and open bar. Oh and it sails every day at 3:45pm. Gosh, we should do this today!

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A quick check online told us nothing about the availability for the day so we packed a bag and headed in the direction oh the harbour. Stopping along the way we confirmed that yes, we could do it that day for the advertised price deal, we just had to be at the dock in half an hour. We had to speed walk since it normally takes us 45 minutes to get to the dock, but we made it!

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And it was a beautiful afternoon for a sail! We were on the Southern Swan, build in 1922 in Denmark. Long story short, the Southern Swan made the voyage from England to Australia in 1988, to take part in the famous Australian Bicentennial First Fleet Re-enactment and has stayed there since.

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We started with the mast climb since you couldn't drink until after the climb. It was quite windy but gorgeous views from up there, unfortunately we weren't allowed to bring a camera or spend much time up there since there was a lot of people who wanted to climb during that sail. But to just hang out up there would have been awesome!

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After the climb we got some champagne, then decided they'd be better as mimosas and just enjoyed the ride. We sailed under the harbour bridge which was a new direction for us and there was a bit of commentary on the surroundings that we listened in on.

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Though there had been dolphins in the harbour the day before, none were to be found that day. Despite my best efforts of looking...Looking_for_dolphins.jpg

Sometimes it gets really tough not having things planned out, especially for me, but being able to do these spontaneous activities is awesome!!

Posted by smr1188 17:04 Archived in Australia Tagged sailing sydney_harbour Comments (2)

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