28 July 2021 | The Heart of the Reef
Jenny Gaskell | Is God’s gift
After a few days on anchor outside Airlie's rock wall, the time had come to head into the marina. The high wall protects the marina from the weather and we knew a change was coming.
We radioed ahead as instructed, as the marina staff kindly provide a dockhand to assist with lines.
We fell away from our anchorage, entered the leads and carefully navigated the somewhat narrow s-bend walled entrance into the marina. I was standing pretty on the forward deck watching for any other vessel movement above the height of the wall, with my line in hand.
Surprisingly, perched on top of the wall we inched past, sat a helipad and I wondered about it's shrewd location and use. Perhaps it's for a medivac team for any offshore emergency?
Anyway, meandering cautiously, allowing oodles of time for the dockhand to walk to our berth from her last job. Thrilled about having assistance, especially when you don't have bow thrusters to combat wind and tide.
Once inside the entrance, He Who Hums and I were both blown away by the number of huge super yachts within! We, my friends were heading down millionaires row, which looked like a postcard scene from Monaco. When I looked around I suspected two things in that instance .... VIP's must arrive via the helipad! And secondly, the docking assistance must be to limit incidents, as NO one wants to bump into neighbours like these before an official introduction.
Peering at the dock, I wondered where our dockhand could be, we were almost ready to turn into the pen. I was scouting about but not seeing anyone even remotely interested in taking my line. I wondered if we had the right pen number when He Who Hums from the helm said, 'We'll have to get this right'! (Oh No shit Sherlock🤦🏻♀️) .... staring at million the dollar boat next door.
Already planning my jumping off point and the need to swiftly tie all 3 lines before before our 10ft bowsprit wanders off in the breeze.
We've executed this manoeuvre many times before, but somehow this one in particular just ramped up a notch or two million!
I leapt like a gazelle and quickly threw on the midships line first ✅, bolted to the stern and locked down the line He Who Hums tossed ✅. Running up to the bow noticing the boat was drifting across towards our neighbour, aware I had left some slack at midships to allow for forward momentum📈. I immediately hooked the bow line on the cleat and leant with my full body weight to drag her back across the pen before "kissing" our neighbour hello, (not me, the boat!). That's then I heard a voice behind me advising I might need to tie it a tad closer. And without even looking I wondered if that name tag read Sherlock🤔.
After all was said and done, we were warmly welcomed and given a rundown on the facilities. Such a nice touch, although taking a line for me would have been farrrr nicer.
However, where the super yachts around oozed sophistication and power, Condesa made up with elegance and charm, sitting quietly in amongst them.
That night we turned on our special old -school deck lights before heading up to the harbour-side restaurant, immediately aware our neighbours were ablaze with stylish names splashed professionally across each stern, just above the swim platforms where their jet skis perch. Not to mention the vibrant neon lights below the waterline igniting the marina. The fish were seemingly just as engrossed with the light source, continually returning for a closer look, barely believing their eyes.
This outstanding marina became our home base for a while. We sailed out for days at a time, enjoying different parts of the Greatest Natural Wonders of the world and returned when the winds were unfavourable.
Like the fish, we continued doing loops, equally mesmerised by the turquoise waters of the Whitsundays. Sailing Butterfly Bay and circling around to the famous Whitehaven beach, absorbing the magnificence of the long stretch of soft silica sand, part of which swept and swirled around the shallow waters for as far as the eye could see.
I wonder what it would be like to drift aimlessly with the tide from the very top of Whitehaven to the far end.
Each time we trekked up to the viewing deck, the landscape morphed into something gloriously different, but yet the same.
No wonder everyone here....on charter, private and tour boats, helicopters, sea-planes, both sail and power boats, the monohulls and cats, the tall ships and the mega yachts keep coming back, day after day, year after year. For as long as nature's beauty reins up here in the 'Heart of the Reef', people continue to tick bucket lists and why wouldn't you?