Ewan McDonald is set adrift on memory bliss after a Whitsundays yacht charter holiday.
Met a friend for coffee in Mt Eden on Monday afternoon.
"What did you do on that wet weekend?" she asked.
"Got up early on Friday, first flight out. Brisbane for breakfast, flew up to Hamilton Island, threw my pack on the yacht at lunchtime, headed out around the Whitsunday Islands and was parked up - I mean anchored - off a beach for kick-the-weekend-off bubbles at 2. Five blokes, one luxury yacht, kayaks and dinghy. Enough gourmet delicacies from the local store to feed and - ahem - water a well-heeled Mediterranean principality.
"Threw the sails up, found a bay to stay on Friday night. Platters of Moreton Bay bugs, grilled barramundi on the back of the boat. Few shirazes down the hatch, card tricks, good book and better night's sleep.
"After breakfast, to a little island where we could walk up through the bush to a cave where the indigenous people lived ... oh, 3000 years ago. Stunning ochre cave paintings. Kicked on to another island where the coral reefs are only 20m offshore, so lunch and snorkelling, more sailing in the afternoon because we'd heard about Whitehaven Beach and wanted to see if the tourism office photos are for real.
"Moored in another bay overnight. Wind got up about 1, 2am so there was a bit of rock'n'roll. Rockmelon, watermelon, kiwifruit, grapes, croissants for breakfast and then we had some fun on the way back to port. Got in about noon and headed to the airport for the 2 o'clock flight. Home by 11, work this morning."
You've heard of Grey Nomads. Retire, wave goodbye to the grandkids, back the motorhome out of the drive and follow the highway into some neck of the woods until the KiwiSaver runs out. In this neck of the islands, they talk about Blue Nomads. Same idea except people mess about on boats rather than RVs or Harley-Davidsons.
If you fancy a life on the ocean, where better than a bunch of semi-tropical islands where the water is 27C in our midwinter, there are sea-turtles and dugongs and whales and other really cool undersea locals?
The southern Great Barrier Reef. Idyllic and uninhabited beaches for swimming, diving, snorkelling, picnicking, barbecuing and walking. Golf courses, if you must.
Whitsundays charter companies make hiring a yacht ridiculously easy. You can "bareboat" - that is, self-sail. They will put you through a gentle grilling (we are talking seamanship, not the barramundi on the barbecue) to make sure you know one end and each side of the boat from another. If you don't they will politely suggest a skipper comes along.
Barnaby "call me Barney" Thomas, an affable young Englishman press-ganged into the Sunsail charter operation at Hamilton Island for the past four years, helmed Congo, our 53ft, four double bed-and-en-suite floating home.
An hour or so's flight north of Brisbane, the Whitsundays are 74 islands and islets rated one of the world's most beautiful sailing grounds (okay, some people haven't seen the Hauraki Gulf). But to be fair, it's the stuff that tourist brochure writers and photographers lust over. Golden sandy beaches - apart from Whitehaven, that's 7km of white sandy shore. The fringing corals and fishes of the reef, ecstasy for snorkellers and divers. Black, white, yellow, blue, red fish and - "Look! Just off the port quarter," called Barney, as a massive sea-turtle checked us out just a couple of metres, or some other nautical measure, off the bow.
He hoped we might see a whale, so we were watching all weekend - well, apart from the times that other nautical pursuits like card tricks and getting the bung out of the champagne didn't interfere.
"There!" yelled Nelson. "Big dark thing."
"Did you notice pink flesh on the underside?" asked Barney from the cockpit as three of us put the boat, I mean yacht, in immediate danger of capsize by following Nelson's excitement.
"Yes, big and grey and pink," Nelson changed his story.
"Dugong," suggested Barney. The sea mammal that old salts, rather too long deprived of more congenial company, decided was the mermaid.
We could have tootled about under engine power but this boat had masts.
"Shall we put the sails up?" asked Barney.
So on Saturday afternoon we rocked out to a dive spot and snorkelled, and on Sunday morning we rolled back to Hamilton Island with the genoa and mainsail up: three hours of surfing the deep blue in 25mph winds and 3-4m chop.
We took turns at the wheel, Barney making sure we kept the nose (is that the term?) pointing somewhere between that headland and the end of this island, teaching an Aussie DJ and an Irish journo the art that separates a sailor from the boys: tying a bowline knot.
James Cook sailed these waters in 1770 - that's why the Whitsunday Islands have such a thoroughly Anglican name - so it's appropriate we had an English skipper. Until recently, the posher of the two yacht clubs in the manicured and coiffured and resort-wear seaport of Hamilton Island was the Challenger of Record for the next America's Cup.
They'd love more Kiwi yachties to cross the Ditch and see how their mainsail sets. Hamilton Island Race Week, in August, is Australia's biggest regatta and one of three consecutive weeks of events at nearby Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island.
In March, the more informal Cruising Yacht Club of Hamilton Island (club commodore: Barnaby Thomas) welcomes yachties from around the Pacific. Couple of free nights' berth in Hamilton Island marina for every entrant. Just drop a line to Barney, his details are in the small print.
We finished our coffee.
"What did you do with your wet weekend?" I asked my friend.
"Filled in my tax return," she sighed.
Ewan McDonald visited the Whitsundays with Tourism & Events Queensland.