|A blustery sail in the Whitsunday passage|
|Cool Runnings anchored in Nara Inlet|
We took the dinghy to shore and discovered a track leading up to a cave with some ancient Aboriginal paintings on the cave walls. It was very cool to see these primitive works of art, and to think of the people who inhabited this area thousands of years ago.
|The track was well marked with interesting plaques talking about the Ngaro people who inhabited this area long before we ever came along|
|Rosemary asks for permission to continue on the special path|
|More info about the Ngaro living at Nara Inlet|
|The cave with the paintings|
|A close up view of the primitive paintings|
After our walk, I was back on the boat, and Dave was out on the dinghy with Ben and Gaby, looking at the coral not too far away. All of a sudden, I heard this “click clacking” noise on our solar panels. I looked outside, and there was a cockatoo playing peek-a-boo with me! He would stick his head over the side to check me out, and then quickly pull it away, talking to me in a parrot-like way! It was very cute to start, but then I panicked about the solar panels, and if his sharp claws would scratch or damage them. I went onto the roof, and tried to shoo him away. He wasn’t interested in leaving, instead jumping down into the cockpit area, first on the BBQ, and then on the rescue sling we have attached to the side! By this time, I signaled Dave and the kids to come back to say hi to our new guest. The kids named him “Nigel” (after the cockatoo in the movie “Rio”). Nigel moved up onto the spreader, and hung around for a while before realizing that these humans were quite boring, and flew off, squawking loudly, no doubt letting the other cockatoos know that there was not much to see on Cool Runnings!
|Nigel struts his stuff on our solar panels|
|And then has a closer look...|
Saturday morning, April 29th dawned…”The Big Day”… Benjamin’s 13th birthday!! After being spoilt with pressies sent by his extremely generous aunt Kim, and transported by his very kind Granny, we prepared to get ready to head out again. But not before Nigel came back to wish Benjamin a happy birthday, and he brought his girlfriend Nellie with him!
|Happy Birthday to our teenager!!|
|Nigel introduces Nellie|
|And they both play peek-a-boo!|
We headed over to the Hamilton Island Marina, to rendezvous with “Nogal”, who had been there for a couple of days already. Being marina guests allowed us access to the whole resort, so it was a huge treat for us to pretend like we were holidaying in a fancy resort! We headed over to the beach side and staked our claim next to the pool. Benjamin's greatest wish was to sail a Hobie, so David went to check out the Hobie situation and managed to book one for an hour. Benjamin was so excited! He and Dave sailed for a bit, and then soon the Nogal crew headed over too and once Frank got hooked up with a Hobie, the race was on! America’s Cup: Team Nogal (Frank and Julia) vs. Team Cool Runnings (Dave, Ben and Gaby)! I can’t say if there was a winner, but needless to say, a lot of fun was had by all!!
|Enjoying ourselves pool-side. You can see some of the palm trees are a little worse for wear from cyclone damage|
|Ben, Gaby and Dave go out on the Hobie|
|The next great sailor in our family? Benjamin loved sailing the Hobie! Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.!!|
|A look back at the pool and beach. Hard to imagine that this was devastated by a cyclone just a month ago|
Thank goodness it was Ben’s birthday, because this allowed us to indulge in one more thing we don’t do a lot of: eat out! Frank made reservations for us all at a place called “Tako”, and we had the most interesting and fanciest tacos and quesadillas we’ve ever had! Delicious! After dinner, everyone met back on Cool Runnings, and the celebrations continued with a cake that Julia managed to whip up somewhere between Hobie sailing and dinner! I was most impressed!! Thank you, Julia for managing what I couldn’t!! And thanks to Sophie for the decorations on the cake!
|Gaby, the Birthday Boy with Julia and Sophie and the birthday cake Julia whipped up for Ben. The banner across the cake reads "Happy Birthday"...hand made by Sophie! Thank you both for the tremendous effort! (and the cake was delicious too!!)|
On a side note, we’ve witnessed some incredible destruction here in the Whitsundays from cyclone Debbie. It is a constant reminder of what Mother Nature can do, and how careful we have to be whilst on this trip. As I write this, another low is forming in the Coral Sea, with the potential to become a very nasty system, if not a cyclone. We are tracking it, and while it is a little too soon to say, it looks like it might hit Cairns around May 9th, just when we plan to be there! And therefore, our plans are always fluid, as we watch the weather and plan accordingly!
|Many businesses in Airlie Beach were closed either temporarily or permanently due to the damage from the cyclone|
|This beautiful boat was just smashed onto the rocks|
|No longer a "Day Dream"... more like a nightmare|