Leaving the madness astern…

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The last day was a perfect sailing day, with blue sky, warm sun and 15-20 knots of breeze. Everyone was on board early to prepare and we were in Dent Passage for the start well ahead of our 0900 start, checking the breeze and tide set, and deciding on what spinnaker to start with. As the start gun went, we crossed the line with the spinnaker set, leading our division out of Dent Passage.

We finished the race in third, which was very pleasing considering how hard everyone had worked in such a short race, and we hoped this would spur us on to a great result in the last race. Despite everyone giving their all for the long afternoon race around Lindeman Island, we were bitterly disappointed to see the results bringing Pilgrim in at eighth, but we all agreed we could not really have done anything different to change the results. That evening, we celebrated the culmination of a great week with the little strength we had left, in a great steak and seafood dinner at the crew house. Laura, on board photographer as well as bowman, showed the video of the week that she had put together, making final edits as we ate dinner! Everyone agreed it had been hard work, terrific fun, great cooking and there was a huge vote of thanks to Clare and Paul for organising the week and making it possible for us all to sail the beautiful Pilgrim.

Our final morning at Hamilton Island was spent repacking, cleaning, provisioning and preparing to return to Maggie. At 1130 we left our berth and once more headed north, in a gentle south east breeze, sails set, leaving the madness of regatta week behind us. We had a lovely sail into the sunset, with sundowner bubbles on the back deck, followed by a stupendous lasagne, cooked up by Clare and I, using leftovers from the weeks catering! We then prepared for watches, with Mike taking the first watch.

The breeze didn’t last through the night, and we had to do a fair bit of motoring, but just after sunrise, Mike and I were able to pull out the sails, and we were soon ripping along at 7 knots. Slowly the rest of the crew woke and made their way on deck to welcome the new morning, with a fantastic bacon, egg and avo sarnie cooked up by skipper, Paul. By this time we were at Cape Cleveland, getting very excited about arriving home, just seven miles to go.

On arrival at the marina, we did some tidying, Pete and I opened up and checked on Wine-Dark Sea, then we launched Budgie and the Goon Bag and went snorkelling at the Nelly Bay snorkel trail. There was reasonable visibility, especially when you dived down, and the coral was spectacular. The highlight, however, were the fabulous giant clams. I thought I had seen giant clams before, with their iridescent coloured lips, but these were huge – easily a meter across. Reaching the end of the trail, we decided to head to Geoffrey Bay and do the trail there too. Despite poor visibility when we got into the water, this was even more amazing than the Nelly Bay trail, with clusters of giant clams and more fish. Again the coral was incredible, way better than anything in the Whitsundays, and possibly as good, if not better than the southern reef.

Eventually we were cold enough to want to head back to the marina, and our tummies were telling us it was lunch time. After a delicious omelette, as we relaxed in the cockpit, phones started to go off, and suddenly we realised it was after 1400 and advance crew were arriving. Clare and Pete headed off to meet the incoming ferry and Phil, Bec and Emma and Will and Lindy. Magnetic Island Race Week was beginning.

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