A Taste for Adventure

By Alicia Pettis

Part 1: Sailing in the Whitsunday Islands.

We got up early ready for a long bus ride from Cairns to the Whitsundays. It was going to be about 7 hours of driving. Which, for the group starting in the Outback was less than our Christmas Day drive which took about 8-9 hours. After a crazy first 2 days in Cairns on our second leg of this trip, we were more than ready to just sit.

On long bus rides, many people like to sleep. I like relaxing by listening to music or taking notes for the blog. Unfortunately, our bus doesn’t have wifi, so I can’t do much on social media. The ride is broken up into segments, usually no more than 2 hours. Sometime, there is a 3 hour stretch, where they put on a movie.

I like the long drives for multiple reason. One being that it is “me” time. On a trip for 50 or so people, you are always doing things with other people and really don’t get a chance to be alone often. But, when we’re driving I can just plug in my headphones and disappear for a little. As an introvert, my time to think and reflect is key to me being happy. Also, the drives are beautiful. The scenery is different than the US, so I like watching out the window taking in the view.

Our tour manager is a bit of a jokester, specifically the “delayed” joke, if I could best describe it. So, for instance, on the long 3-hour drive portion, he said he was going to put on a documentary about the Great Barrier Reef. We all looked at the screen, waiting for that documentary to come on. But, it looked more like it was Finding Nemo…some of us continued to wait for the documentary to finally come on, only to realize: nope, no documentary here. Haha!

I wasn’t feeling to well on this day. After 2 adrenaline filled days and not much sleep, I I tried to catch up on sleep. I felt a little off, but hoped it would pass.

We arrived in the Whitsundays. I was super excited because I was getting the chance to sail through the Whitsundays for 2 nights. The Whitsundays are a collection of 74 islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The name comes from the discovery by Captain Cook, who based on his own “timeline” believed he discovered the islands on Whit Sunday, the 8th Sunday after Easter for Christians. Of all the islands, the two most popular are Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Island. Hamilton Island is largest inhabited island and is the only one that is privately owned. It is most known for in the U.S. as the island that Taylor Swift rented out after here 1989 tour. The Whitsunday Island is home to Whitehaven Beach, which we would be visiting the next day. It is considered the #1 beach in Australia and one of the top 10 beaches in the world. I’m not a big beach person, considering how pale I am. But, I was looking forward to it. I mean how often do you get to go to a place like that?!

Besides the sites, I was also looking forward to learning how to sail. I’ve been sailing before, but not as part of the crew. Here, we were getting the chance to actually help run the ship, which sounded really interesting to me. When I met the crew members of the ship, I quickly realized that I would never be able to get into sailing…they were super tan.

We got dropped off at the dock and we’re greeted by one of the crew memebers. We each had packed a day bag, which had everything we needed for a two night stay on a sail boat. Or so I thought!


I had gotten motion sickness pills earlier in the day during our lunch stop. I took 2 and felt confident I would make it through sailing with ease.

There were two different groups of us going on 2 boats. The sailing boats we were going to be living on had a cool story behind them. Basically, they were racing sail boats that did not meet current codes anymore, so they were adapted. The new owners hollowed out the middle and made them into touring boats. Our boat, the Broomstick, was apparently very fast and had set some records in her racing days.

Almost immedately after we got onto the boat, we left the dock and headed out to our destination for the night. We put our stuff on bunks and took in the small living quarters. There were makeshift bunk beds with a thin mattress and pillow for each of us. It was already pretty hot down there, so we guessed it wouldn’t be a cool night of sleep.

After getting situated, we got a run down of the sailing rules and our itinerary. We were heading out to a spot to sit overnight, then in the morning we would head to Whitehaven beach, then in the afternoon we would go snorkeling and spend one more night on board before meeting everyone back on land the following morning.

Heading out there, we sat along the sides of the boat, feet dangling off the sides, just enjoying the feeling. They got our dinner ready, which was roasted chicken and salad. Surprising delicious for being made in a sailing boat kitchen. We ate and talked to each other. Particularly, I was trying to get to know the 4 new Americans better.


By now, I knew I definitely was not feeling well. I thought earlier that I may have just been tired, but now I knew something was up. My chest was aching and I felt exhausted in a sick way. I had a first aid kit with me that contained a thermometer, which read that my temperature was 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Not a good sign. One of the guys in the group let me have a few Tylenol, so I could bring my fever back down.

I went to bed, while everyone played drinking games on deck. They played games like “thunder” where you put on the AC/DC song, “Thunderstruck” and get in a circle. Someone starts chugging their beer until the lyrics say “thunder,” then it goes to the next person, and so on and so forth. One person is completely screwed by a guitar riff…

I hoped a good night sleep would cure the sick feeling and make sure that I did not have 2 rough nights and days on the sailboat. I knew I wouldn’t be able to turn back to shore, so I needed to make this work.

During the nighttime, I woke up after everyone had gone to bed. I was really hot and just couldn’t sleep in that condition. So I took my sheets and pillow up with me to the deck and found a spot to lie down. It of course was cooler outside, than under the deck. The breeze was nice as well. Only problem was that I was sleeping on the hard floor of the deck. I struggled to get comfortable, but finally fell asleep.


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