Monday, 23 November 2015

Cruising with friends on board Versus Sailing as a couple.

October 28 to November 1 - 2015

Over the last five years, we have sailed in South East Asia and Europe as crew on a number of other people’s boats, cruised the Mediterranean for two seasons on Alcheringa with a boat partner, Marc, and, at other times on our own, and most recently, sailed our new (to us) Whitby 42 ketch Our Dreamtime in Australia, often with friends aboard. So which is better, sailing just as a couple or with others?

Sailing by ourselves has numerous advantages over having other people along. We can be totally selfish through and through. It is great not having to consider anyone else about anything. We decide where we go, what we do and when we do it purely based on what WE want. If we feel like skipping dinner and making do with light nibbles and a bottle of wine at sundown instead so be it. Constraints on our movements are largely limited to what the weather is doing rather than having to worry about what day our guests need to be somewhere to catch their plane, go to work or whatever. On any particular day we rise early or late in the morning as we please. There’s also privacy advantages of course. Clothing becomes optional. When, where and how much noise you might make enjoying being a couple is of no concern.

Including our unexpected four week stay in the Port of Bundaberg Marina fixing our transmission issue, we have spent over three months with just the two of us on board island hopping the 630 Nautical miles up Australia’s Queensland coast to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. Despite having spent the past thirty three years together, we have revelled in each other’s company. We spent days and days lazing in the cockpit with the trade winds pushing us along and swells rolling gently under the boat. Together we’ve faced and overcome some trying conditions on occasions and unexpected boat issues. We’ve explored many new places and revisited others. We have strolled naked in total privacy, hand in hand along golden sand beaches of uninhabited tropical islands. We’ve stayed in places as long as we wanted or moved right on if we wished. Toasting the sunset to celebrate the conclusion of another wonderful day alive has become our ritual.  Yep sailing alone is very, very cool.
Having an uninhabited tropical island all to yourselves is about as good as it gets
However, we are both very sociable and really enjoy other people’s conversation and company. We love having people on board to share our enthusiasm for sailing and get a taste of our relatively new cruising lifestyle. Through our previous careers and social networks, we are blessed with a number of good friends from all walks of life. Some of these love a day out on the boat with us around the bay while others are always up for a weekend away sailing. While there are a number who would love to spend some extended time cruising with us, for most, the time pressures of still being part of the Nine to Five grind make it either very difficult or impossible. It’s shattering for someone to lock in a week or two off work a couple of months in advance to go sailing only to have the weather turn to absolute crap when the date finally arrives and us have to tell them the trip is cancelled.

Fortunately for the sociable people we are, there are a few some who have the flexibility to escape such concerns at times and jump aboard when and where the opportunity arises. Two of those people are great friends Anthony and Lynda. They got their few first taste of cruising with us in 2013 when we shared an awesome week sailing on Alcheringa in Sicily during our Mediterranean wanderings.

Before we headed north on our current Great Barrier Reef adventure we had extended an open invitation to them to spend some more time aboard with us if they could get away from their businesses for a while. On October 21, shortly after finally reaching the Whitsunday Islands and anchoring at Shaw Island, Rob sent Anthony a text message which simply said, ‘We’re now in the Whitsunday Islands. Why aren’t you?

On October 28 we moved the boat from our anchorage off Airlie Beach into Abell Point Marina, gave her a big freshwater bath all over, filled our tanks, fridge, freezer, pantry and re-stocked our wine supplies. Late morning on October 22 Anthony and Lynda stepped aboard carrying just a small carrybag each. We threw off the lines half an hour later and headed out into the islands.

Our Dreamtime on a mooring at Stonehaven, Hook Island.
First up was a very relaxed fifteen and half mile square reach across to pick up a mooring at Stonehaven on Hook Island for the night. While Rob and Anthony secured the boat, Karen headed to the galley emerging shortly after with a round of large pina coladas in fresh coconut shells to set the tone of the next four days of fun and frivolity.
Abell Point to Stonehaven - 15.5 Miles - 3 Hours 08 Minutes
Average Speed 4.9 Knots Highest Speed 6.1 Knots

The moorings are located quite close to the fringing reef but are very well maintained.
Karen's masterpieces to set the tone of the next few days.

Great way to start the fun

Lynda and Anthony with their 'Welcome to the Whitsundays Pina Coladas on the stern.
We had a great sunset at Stonehaven followed shortly after by a very cool moonrise.

Next morning we sailed a circuitous 15.8 mile course in flukey winds south out into the Whitsunday Passage and then into CID Harbour where we anchored of Sawmill Beach. Cue a cooling dip off the boat, more cocktails, great food, laughs and another sunset in paradise.

Stonehaven to Cid Harbour - 15.8 Nautical Miles - 3 Hours 55 Minutes
Average Speed 4.0 Knots - Highest Speed 7.6 Knots

We planned to make the five kilometre round trip climb to Whitsunday Peak the next day to take in its reported stunning 360 degree views of the islands but overnight rain and a drizzling morning convinced us to relax on board instead. No point slogging up a muddy trail just to put our heads in the clouds and see nothing.

The weather cleared enough later in the day for Anthony and Lynda to go exploring well up into Dugong Inlet in our two man kayak while we trolled a line around the expansive CID Harbour in the dinghy hoping to pick up a nice fish or two. No such luck unfortunately so after a round of Karen’s strawberry daiquiris we had to console ourselves with roast lamb and a few appropriate bottles of bubbles.

We went chasing fish with the dinghy in Cid Harbour

While Anthony and Linda went exploring Dugong Inlet in the kayak
Anthony and Lynda enjoyed their own private island for a while
Karen and Anthony -more fun and frivolity in Cid Harbour
Who needs fish anyway
CID Harbour really is a beautiful anchorage
Sunday provided a very modest south easterly breeze for our trip back to Airlie Beach. While charter yachts motored all around us with furled canvas we were determined to sail. Up went our main, mizzen and then asymmetric spinnaker. We may not have set any speed records but we did have a very relaxing sixteen and a half mile run back. The wind angle gave us just enough room to sneak past the point of North Mile Island then we continued on the same tack well out into Pioneer Bay before gybing for home.

Spinnaker time
Lynda chillaxing in the cockpit on the way back to Airlie Beach
Rob trying to get that perfect I-phone shot of the spinnaker flying
Anthony enjoyed his Blueberry and Banana Cake after lunch enough to lick the plate. All class that lad.
Just after we gybed and headed into Airlie Beach
We passed close by the huge ship Voyager of the Seas anchored in the bay giving hundreds of photo snapping tourists a good view of a real cruise boat under spinnaker. We must have looked good because boats ferrying passengers back to the ship from the shore all came close by us with even more lenses pointed our way.
If you prefer to sail alone imagine the pain of being on that sucker with a couple of thousand new friends.
More tourists heading back to the floating city.
Our asymmetric spinnaker run back from Whitsunday Island was a perfect end to some fun filled days.
Cid Harbour to Airlie Beach - 16.4 Nautical Miles - 4 Hours 05 Minutes
Average Speed 4.0 Knots - Highest Speed 7.6 Knots
We dropped all sail as late as possible before anchoring off the Whitsunday Sailing Club again. Post passage beers were followed by final night cocktails, more bubbles, bbq dinner and a late night of laughs and tall tales.
Our anchorages in the Whitsunday Islands so far.
We ferried our by now weary guests into the sailing club at 8.00am next morning to meet their shuttle bus to the airport for the flight back to 9 to 5 world.
For us it was back to the boat for a good sleep and a couple of alcohol free days to give our livers some recovery time.

So which is better, sailing just as a couple or with others? Who knows. We love both. Tell us what you think. If you leave a comment and you have a blog, please leave a link as well. We'd like to click over for a visit and leave you a comment too. 

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If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.



  1. I started writing a longwinded answer here but deleted it! "Just us" for many reasons that you mentioned in your post but a big one is safety (no compromises).

  2. Hi John, thanks for commenting. We agree regarding the importance of safety. We do a fairly comprehensive safety briefing for any guests who come on board and only sail when conditions are right regardless of what schedules they may have. If staying in a safe anchorage when the sea is being nasty interferes with guests' plans it's their problem not ours. We do make that clear. Cheers.


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