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Date: 29 Jul 2013 08:26:00
Title: Unforgetable Crossing

When all is calm at sea there is little to do but sit and read or talk or
listen to music.As we are only two quite a lot of time is also spent
catching up on sleep during the day with 'naps' coming at regular intervals
The fishing line always gets put out of the back of the boat in the hopes
that we will catch something for supper. Sometimes we can go all day without
a bite or the fish bites but manages to escape or the line snaps. However
today we heard the line run and as usual we jumped to action, and it turned
out to be a long battle of the Old Man and the Sea! We could tell it was a
big fish and very feisty at that. Andrew valiantly fought a battle with the
creature for an hour and 20 minutes. Exhausting to watch, and eventually
the large Mahi Mahi came into sight. These are beautiful fish with a greeny
blue florescent body and a shiny yellow tail that catches the sunlight and
glistens. Andrew finally reeled him in and then I came in handy just to
help get it on to the boat with the gaff. This is rather a challenge on a
rolling boat. The beautiful creature weighed in at 11.5 KG That's a lot of
fish, which was promptly filleted by Andrew and we ate some that night and
the rest is in the freezer.
Things change quickly at sea. Our first few days of great sailing were
followed by increasingly strong winds as we approached Australia. A hundred
miles from the coast, the Great Barrier Reef loomed large and we had to
navigate a way through which was probably the most challenging 24 hours of
sailing since we left the UK as the winds were now howling, sea spay
everywhere. It was just before dawn when we arrived at the reef, and we
began to make our way through the channels, looking for the lighthouses and
beacons to confirm our position. It looked as if we were in open ocean, no
sight of land or shallows, but just a few hundred meters away, just below
the surface ready to trap the unwary, the reefs were there. The waves were
now vertical walls of water. The boat would crash up and into them, sending
sheets of water over the whole length, crash down the other side and then
within seconds the next one. Sleep was impossible but it was awesome to see
what punishment the boat could take as it buried its bows into the wave,
shudder and shake as it was slowed down and then slowly rise up, seemingly
shake itself free and plough on into the next wave, for hour after hour. By
three thirty in the afternoon we passed out from the final shallow area and
clear of any dangers, turned west again, trimmed the sails and sped along
towards Mackay on the Queensland coast. By midnight we were approaching the
harbour entrance, a mass of lights, pilot boats, tugs, cargo ships, we
seemed almost insignificant but Andrew set up the mooring lines and we made
our way to the 'quarantine dock', yellow flag flying, tied up and the
tiredness and intensity of the past few days hit us. We managed to get our
first proper nights sleep in 6 days and woke up the following day to welcome
the quarantine, immigration and customs aboard.
More on the next entry The two photos show Andrew fighting the fish and one
with the big beast in his arms.

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