Airlie Beach is a lot like the french Riviera (I think) and they are building another Marina there to get even more tourists. Its also a huge backpacker focused town and the entry point to the Whitsundays which basically all backpackers claim to be one of the best things in Australia.
Getting there was easy enough because it wasn't a very long ride, so I got there in the afternoon after saying goodbye to Gerwin and Karen. I booked my sailing trip when I got there on one of the last minute trips so I could get going already the next day and I didn't really want to stay long in Airlie (Think I'm becoming a bit of a loner, a bit uncomfortable when there is a lot of people around, especially backpackers),
The boat I got on was a Maxi Yacht called Matador, 24.9 meters long being the winner 31 races including 2 Maxi World Championship and the first Maxi to be built completely out of carbon fiber. We had a crew of 4 and had 13 tourists including me. Was a different backpacker group though without a single German or Pom (English) which is very unusual because they make up something like 60% of all the backpackers in Australia. Instead we had 6 Americans (don't know if they are much better though), 2 Danish, 2 Swedes, 1 Austrian, 1 Italian and 1 Aussie.
The trip was a 3 day 2 nights trip and we went around to a couple of islands checking out some beaches, including the famous Whitehaven Beach which has so fine and white sand they took sand from here to build the Hubble telescope! We also did some snorkeling and diving every now and then when anchoring in some bay. The highlight was probably the second day after Whitehaven when we were racing two other Maxi Yachts and we had a whale breach just 50 meters away from the boat, the first whale Ive ever seen! Also had a dolphin jump in front of us and eagles flying over, and we won the race!
But my impression of the Whitsundays? Cant really say they were what I expected. Its volcanic islands while I more expected atolls and beautiful beaches everywhere. Instead they are covered with forests and mountains and have very few beaches. Also the snorkeling/diving wasn't that great, been to many much better spots on the west coast.
But overall I'm glad I went on the trip, its was a bit dear (expensive) but I had a good time and was with a great group of people. It was fun going sailing for a change and do a “real” backpacker tour. The weather was nice but windy, perfect for sailing! And the food was excellent with a really good crew. I also got everyone to play Slaps (a drinking game) with me two nights in a row, hurray for me! (Really having a hard time to get people to play drinking games with me nowadays)
Stayed another night in Airlie which I got for free and got on the piss with the people from the boat, all good fun. Tomorrow I'm heading out on the road again heading north.