We had turned in early, and slept through a most blissfully calm night at Nara inlet, so Captain decided as we were both up early, to head for Airlie beach. The motor through the passage was smooth, but as soon as we were out in the open, a big squall hit us broadside from the port side. Woohoo! This produced great winds, (and a perfect full rainbow!), so, under a single reefed main and full Genoa we had a rollicking wild ride to Airlie harbour. Here we encountered over two hundred boats participating in the last day of the Whitsunday races. Dragonflies zipping along at impossible speeds, monohulls with huge spinnakers flying in the 25 knot wind, carbon fibre fancies dancing across the swell. It was an exhilarating sight! We managed to set the hook in 18 knots of wind on the first try, playing out 125 feet of chain in 16 feet of water...just to be sure...there was waaaay more wind in what the pilot books said was a “protected” anchorage than either of us ever expected. After a couple of hours, we felt confident that the anchor was holding, we went ashore. Silly me forgot to take a camera. It is a beautiful town! Quite a tourist destination, but somehow it wasn’t a bit off-putting, there was plenty of high quality places, it was super clean, well organised, and I could envision a wonderful week of holiday here. Alas, we had only one afternoon, but it was very pleasant. We started walking the boardwalk from Able point marina to the rum bar at the opposite end of town. Over 360 rums on offer....but not until 17:00. So sad. Next we visited the bottle store, where the nice chap gave us some kraken beanies to keep our noggins warm while we sail at night. Listening to our tale of woe that the rum-bar was closed, he suggested we try the Airlie hotel pub for fish and chips and rum. An excellent recommendation! We ate a delicious lunch, watched the boats crossing the finish line, enjoyed the fantastic hospitality that is the hallmark of Australia, then we wandered through town, sat in the beach and ruminated over our lunch in the soft sand and warm sunshine. Then we paid a visit to the extremely well stocked grocery market, to tide us over til we reach Darwin. Oh, I hope Darwin has a shop like this! Yummy lamb steaks, organic chicken breasts, super lean mince beef! And pies! Oh pies in multitudes of flavours! Plus crunchy green things, grapes, tomatoes, and avocados! Culinary heaven....I never want to leave this country! Even Captain said, “this is another spot to consider for retirement!” On the way back to the marina we met an interesting chap wearing an albino python. He offered to let me wear her, but I was content just to hold her in my hands and feel her smooth two day old just-molted skin. Somehow I just couldn’t “wrap” my head around a python around my neck (pun intended)! Such friendly folk, these Aussies! Back on our boat, we put the goodies away, tried the Australian whisky we bought at the bottle shop(not bad at all), and watched the lovely boat parade of private yachts, playful barges chockablock full of sight seeers, beautiful old square rugger tourist ships and not so wonderful fast ferries making nasty rolling wakes as they went through the anchorage like race cars in a parking lot. The wind went to sleep when we did, and it was another blissfully calm night at anchor. So happy we stopped here!image1.