Festivities began on Friday night with welcome drinks at the Clarion Hotel where the crews were able to share stories of their journey from Vanuatu and the incredible Hydrographers Passage. Saturday was a free day, some boats went provisioning while others went touring in the local region. Within an easy driving distance participants saw the famed platypus in the wild, explored the scenic Pioneer Valley and visited the Eungella National Park. "Hiking to the waterfall is a welcome scenery change after a week at sea!" said Gary from Skylark of London. On Saturday night, in honor of Andrey's birthday, Arabela hosted an epic "Dock Party" complete with beverages and barbeque.
Bright and early on Sunday morning the fleet visited Cape Hillsborough National Park to see wallabies and kangaroos on the beach at sunrise. There was even a baby Joey in the pouch of a proud mama Roo! Only 50 km northwest of Mackay, this ruggedly scenic park includes rainforest and volcanic rock formations.
Also on Sunday, the prize giving dinner was hosted by the Clarion Hotel and Mackay Marina Village. Each boat was recognized for crossing the Pacific Ocean with a colorful certificate highlighting the flag of every country they visited. In the Class A division, Aurora secured the top spot followed by Take Off and Tulla Mhor. Altair was the leader in the Class B division with Zeeland coming in second and Lexington third. In fact, Zeeland set her new record of 190 miles in just 24 hours, which made Edwin and Bianca quite proud! Amazing photographs were submitted by all of the boats and special awards went out to Take Off and Timshel for their submissions. The fleet voted on some fun awards and Arabela was recognized as the boat hosting the Best Dock Party. Tulla Mhor was the boat who hosted the most sundowners. Altair also won the award for closest estimation of their arrival time and date.
On Monday morning, Rally Control held a cruising talk with local expert John Evetts. Zoning charts were provided to the fleet by the Mackay Marina and the fleet was able to ask questions directly to a cruiser who has sailed this coast his entire life.
As the free cruising period begins, the fleet is sad to say farewell to Ain't Fancy
, and Taistealai
who will ship their boats back home and Aurora Polaris
who will take a year out and rejoin the rally next year. First boats left Mackay this morning to head north and cruise the Whitsunday Islands. Many of the boats will cruise together and the fleet officially meets back up in Darwin, the northern most city in Australia.