Leaving the Cumberlands in our wake, we moved into the Whitsundays, the most popular area on the entire east coast. When we arrived, the clouds sagged with darkness, and a seemingly never-ending wind chilled our skin. Tongue Bay, a fair anchorage on the east side of Whitsunday Island, swarmed with boats. It was just a resting point for the racing boats now in charter; their real destination was Whitehaven Beach. They moved so quickly that they missed what lay right around the corner, Hill Inlet, the most photographed area in the Whitsundays. Despite the stormy weather, we drove our dinghy around the headland. Swarms of rays darted away from us. We motored through dozens of channels, making our way through the banks of sand, and we watched the scrambling shapes of crabs below and gulls screeching away into the sky. The turquoise water remained turquoise even without the sun to enhance it. The beauty made a lasting impression.
Just farther north is Hook Island, and on the east coast lay the famous anchorage of Manta Ray Bay, known for its snorkeling. It wasn't long before I was again crashing into the coldness of the sea. I flicked myself up with my fins, the sun shooting small piercings of light through the surface.