Once we got underway we noticed how beautiful and dramatic this coastline is. Approaching the Daintree rainforest area everything is intensely green. Mountains drop steeply toward the sea, yielding to attractive white sand beaches along the waterfront. The colors are captivating, as the brilliant blue sky and the green of the landscape seem to meld into a clear turquoise that becomes the Coral Sea. Heavy thick cloud cover hovers at the mountain peaks, somewhat resembling a giant floating marshmallow. It is true that this is some of the best and prettiest sailing most of us will experience in our lifetimes.
Although 15+ knots of wind were forecasted, we saw a mere 5 knots (true), building to about 7.8 for the better part of our morning. There wasn't much swell, but heavy traffic from motor cats ferrying tourists out to the Reef rocked us endlessly until we managed to put enough miles between us and them. With 48 miles to go to Hope Island we hoped to pick up that forecasted sou'easterly, so with fingers crossed we unfulred the staysail for stability and carried on. After lunch time the wind began to build from a whisper to a promise allowing us to furl the staysail and hoist the genoa. We were enjoying a 6 or so knot sail when from the horizon emerged a large official looking vessel that appeared to be heading our way. Earlier we'd noticed a fairly lo-flying aircraft that might have been Customs. It didn't take long before the big gray/green cruiser with CUSTOMS boldly emblazoned across the vessel caught up and then slowed just off our starboard beam. It didn't approach but as Frank was spying it/them through the binoculars I said to him they are probably watching him right back with some seriously high-powered glasses. He laughed but kept looking. They cruised slowly alongside about 50 yards away for a few beats and, seeming satisfied, sped up and away. Now you see them, now you don't.
|Hope Island way in the distance|
|Tiny little Hope Island|
|Sunset from Hope Isl over the mainland in the distance|
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