Whitsundays Seawind Sailing

Australia's Whitsunday Islands was the perfect setting to try out the new Seawind 1250 catamaran. Want to sail there, too? CW's Adventure Charters is headed Down Under in October. Click here for details.

During a visit to the South Pacific in February 2011, four of us went for a two-day circumnavigation of Hamilton and Whitsunday islands, complete with a visit to Whitehaven beach and its famed overlook. The sailing aboard the new Seawind 1250 was spectacular, but still no match for the raw beauty of this slice of the Australian Coast and gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

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Squally skies meant Whitehaven Beach, all three miles of it along the east side of Whitsunday Island, was nearly empty when we anchored out and took a dinghy ashore.Mark Pillsbury

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Though not much of a beach day, the storm clouds and shadows made the Whitsundays all that more dramatic.Mark Pillsbury

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Located along the western side of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are teeming with good snorkling sites. On a coral reef just off Border Island we ran into about a dozen of these bumphead parrot fish, odd looking fellows, but friendly enough.Mark Pillsbury

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Brent Vaughan (left) and Paul are doing the not-so-heavy lifting as we sail along aboard the Seawind 1250.Mark Pillsbury

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To be honest, it's difficult to look dashing when one is wearing one's jelly fish gear. Since I didn't get stung, it begs the question, is the suit really useful, or were there no stinging jelly fish there in the first place?Mark Pillsbury

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The Seawind 1250 is the newest cat from Australia's largest catamaran builder. It proved to be a spirited sailer in conditions that ranged from near calm to the high teens and then some. In a rolly anchorage, the stability of its two hulls was greatly appreciated.Mark Pillsbury

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For the most part, the Whitsundays are uninhabited and the rugged terrain is stunningly beautiful.Mark Pillsbury

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On our counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Whitsunday Island, we had a beat past desolate Pentecost Island after leaving Hamilton Harbour.Mark Pillsbury

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To wrap up our two day visit to the Whitsundays and our sail aboard the new Seawind 1250, we were dinner guests of Glenn Bourke, CEO of Hamilton Island, at the Hamilton Island Yacht Club. The food, I would have to say, was as good as the architecture is intruguing.Mark Pillsbury

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Seawind Catamaran's Brent Vaughan demonstrated his expertise on the grill by whipping up a dinner of snags (Australian for sausage), steaks, and veggies, and convinced me every boat should have a barbeque built into the stern rail.Mark Pillsbury

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Anchored for the night in Tongue Bay, on Whitsunday Island, Seawind's Brent Vaughan introduced his visitor to an Aussie sailing tradition: Bundy and Coke. There may be a reason why Mount Gay is the preferred drink at regattas around the world.Mark Pillsbury

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In the morning, we went ashore in Tongue Bay and followed the well-attended trail up to the overlook above Whitehaven Beach. If you're the first ashore in the morning, beware the webs and spiders, which are the size of your hand!Mark Pillsbury

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What's not to like about clearing skies and a double rainbow over Whitsunday Island.Mark Pillsbury