It was a novel way to be leaving Sydney as the forked smoking stack slid under the harbour bridge, seemingly grazing the metal struts, like the flukes of a giant metallic whale. The gloom of the clouds threatened a tropical storm and the Opera House was already lit up as we glided past. It looked atmospheric in the heavy light.
We were loose.
We were consumed by the ritual of the voyage, reading, exercising and eating, writing, watching the sea slide by and peering into the infinity of ocean that surrounded us. At night we gave ourselves over to the throb of the screws and the lethargic yawing, pitching, rolling and staggering of the ship. We rocked and rolled to a physical lullaby.
To our left the shores of NSW slowly rose and fell on the horizon as a low smudge of hills looking so low against the immense sea that it was easy to imagine it being inundated.
Already we have stocked up our Vit D batteries and are about to explode. We are restraining ourselves with fortitude in the face of mountains of victuals and ethanoic concoctions.
Two days cruising the Gold Coast like Cook before (though I bet he did not have the luxuries or company we have) and then we strike shore to invade Hamilton Island!
We crashed straight through the Great Barrier Reef (we have a few fragments in our cabin) to ensconce ourselves among the rich kids regatta at the yacht club but soon headed off into the bush for secret pebble coves overhung with tropical Queensland flora. It was forty plus degrees (hot enough to boil eggs) and humidity was 130% so, dripping sweat and with limited water, we set off up the mountain of Passage Peak with superb views of the Whitsunday islands (should have been the Whitmondays but Cook didn’t put the clocks forward). Dehydrated and scorched we tramped back through forests of grass ferns to the nearest bar and stocked up on fluids.
After a beer and lunch we boarded a bus and headed off to town. It was pleasant enough but away from the hinterland it felt like a rick kids playground with buggies and jet-skies.
A week after we left a hurricane came through and flattened it.