As you fly into Proserpine you notice the wild and rugged landscape give way to the manicured fields of humanity and the mass production of sugar cane to feed the insatiable addiction of the west for sugar. A parallel springs to mind of Bolivia and its coca leaf. Apart from this small enclave of civilization there is a feeling that you really are out in the middle of nowhere, a sensation which is reinforced by the airport terminal which is no larger than the average Aussie shed and is reminiscent of a backwater Indian Village Airport.
The journey from the airport to Airlie Beach takes you through a maze of cane fields which are a blur of brown cane with their vivid green leaves slowly swaying in the subtropical trade winds. The fields are intersected with a myriad of small gauge railway tracks with locomotives pulling behind them an endless line of bins full of cane to take to the sugar mills. Proserpine is a town of a time gone by, rows of privately owned stores and conspicuous by its absence is the ubiquitous stadium sized shopping mall full of conglomerates and franchises.
Being a blip on the radar, it is soon left behind and then it’s through Cannonvale and onto our destination: Abell Point Marina, where Seafox our 38’ Leopard Catamaran is waiting for a week of adventure in the renowned Whitsundays. A brief glimpse of the Bay reveals the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea, with a vast array of boats gently swaying at anchor, their masts bobbing like a pendulum in rhythm to the rolling swell.
We are a family of five with three girls aged 3, 7 & 21. I have an RYA coastal Yachtmasters certification and have been coastal day sailing for around 5 years on a 34’ monohull in Perth WA, where the wind is always fresh, the swell short and lumpy and the tides… well you don’t really notice the tide there. The children have had a few outings and the admiral has done a keelboat coarse, so the jump into a 38’ cat for a seven day live aboard out on the islands is exciting, with a small dose of trepidation thrown in for good measure.
We arrived the day before our charter started, but for an extra $200 we spent the night on the boat at the marina, which is certainly cheaper than a local hotel for a family of five. It also gives us the time to provision the boat without wasting any of our precious cruising days.
Rather than use one of the local provisioning companies, which provides all your meals with recipes we opted to go with Coles online and create our own meal plans. The main driving force for this choice was cost, with the provisioning companies coming in exorbitantly expensive for seven days for a family of five. Almost equally as important was the choice of meals available in regards to satisfying everyone, along with the complexity of cooking some of them, as we wanted to keep meals simple, easy and quick to prepare in the limited kitchen space we had. A word of warning for those new to online shopping like we were: avoid getting fresh produce online, especially meats as we found that they packed goods which were extremely close to their use-by dates. In future we will select our own fresh provisions.
The marina has a Dive shop, chandeliers, bar/restaurant and a cafe that does a great breakfast and very drinkable cup of coffee, along with an assortment of charter companies, including ours: Charter Yachts Australia. Checking in is simple and quick and we are shown to our home for the week and given a very quick brief, to see us through the night until our main four hour briefing at 8.30am the following morning.
To Be continued………