Most people on the planet will have heard of the Great Barrier Reef.
Most will know that it lies off the coast of Australia and is one of the
great natural wonders of our world.
By the time Trish and I rounded Cape York in the far north east of Australia
we had sailed over 95% of its 2,300km length, from its southern point just
north of Brisbane, where it lies almost 180km offshore to the Torres Strait
where it becomes part of the offshore maze of reefs and islands and
continues north to end just off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
The statistics that make up the reef are mind boggling, 3,000 reefs, 600
continental islands and 300 coral cays.
Over the centuries the reef has claimed many passing boats and even the
great Captain Cook hit one of the outer reefs thinking himself in open
water. Now called Endurance reef there are still some artefacts underwater
from when Cook jettisoned cannon, etc to lighten the boat and float himself
If sailing during the day was fraught with danger then sailing through this
maze at night was impossible.
But no longer, the accuracy of modern charts and the well buoyed channels
make passage through and along the reef relatively safe. Even so there is
something unnerving about rushing through the darkness knowing that each
side of the boat there are coral reefs waiting to catch out the unwary.
It would have been good to have had more time, to go out to some of the
reefs where it is possible to anchor without damaging the coral and snorkel
and dive on these untouched reefs, far away from the hordes of tourists that
come out from Mackay and Cairns.
Perhaps another time.
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