THE iconic Whitsunday Islands will soon take centre stage in a TV series about escaping your life and following your dreams.
In a five part series called Living the Dream, film makers Maxine Gray and Dan Clougherty quit their stressful city jobs and sail off to the Whitsundays to find out if the cruising lifestyle is everything it's cracked up to be.
Maxine says, "We did it pretty much on a whim, which was crazy because neither of us had ever sailed before. We just thought, yeah let's do it. Let's take off and see where it leads us."
The rookie sailors bought a 42 foot yacht named Wildflower and sailed a thousand nautical miles from their home in Sydney to the Whitsunday Islands.
"Fortunately Dan's a planner and I'm a die-hard optimist, but we were out of our comfort zone most of the time," confides Maxine.
Dan had taken a few sailing lessons before he set off and crewed with friends, but admits he was frequently overwhelmed by the reality of skippering his own yacht.
"It's nothing like the tranquil images you see in the sailing brochures. I lost count of the number of times we nearly ran aground and it's much harder work than you think - although the pay-off was that we saw some beautiful sights and amazing wildlife."
Highlights included filming a turtle release with Libby Edge from the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre at Airlie Beach and racing in the Audi Hamilton Island Regatta, Maxine said.
The couple also filmed the annual Shag Islet Rendezvous at Montes Beach which they loved.
Dan says the five one-hour series is an honest account of their adventure.
"It's all there - the meltdowns, the breakdowns and the close calls. We wanted to show the reality of cruising - how great it is and how hard it is.
And what you can achieve when you get up off the couch and just do something.
Living the Dream goes to air on Channel Nine at 3.30pm on January 27 for five weeks.