19 47 South, 151 09 East, Approaching Hydrographers Passage, Entrance to the Great Barrier Reef

1836 Australian Time.

We’re 44 miles from Hydrographers Passage, one of the passages through the
Great Barrier Reef – then navigate through the night the 100 miles inside
the Great Barrier Reef past evocative names such as Wyatt Earp Reef, Buggati
Reef and Deliverance Bank to reach Mackay tomorrow.

It’s been a fast wet bumpy passage. We are regularly surfing along at 11-12
knots. We hit 14.5 knots earlier and decided to reduce to sail to slow the
boat down. Half an hour later we hit 16.3 knots – its so fast the whole boat
vibrates and you know you are literally surfing down the back of a wave. The
waves are large – probably 3 metres and you watch them curl up behind you,
some breaking, some not and then you feel the stern lift up and whoosh you
are off – cantering down the wave until you stop at the bottom of the trough
and the speed stalls to 5 knots until you wind yourself up on the next wave.
The first time you do this, you look at the wave in disbelief and wonder how
its going to break over you. Once you are in the rythythm, you enjoy getting
in the flow of the waves and carving your way through.

Squalls are everywhere – driving rain and with 30-40 knots of breeze in the
squall. It’s cold too – winter here and I’m sitting in full foul weather
gear. We hear Queensland has the worst snow its had in 30 years. And here I
was thinking we were chasing the sun!

Nichola is back to form today – she’s been below par for most of the
crossing. Thankfully the kids have been rock stars (mostly) and I’ve been
able to get on with sailing the boat whilst they do schooling with minimal
guidance. They’ve been cooking, cleaning and helping with the sailing.
Proper boat kids now and after 5 days at sea totally relaxed and at one with
our environment.

Racing as well. We’re currently in 3rd place in the monohulls and have had a
cracking run – we only used our engine a tiny amount compared to some other
boats so when they do the calculations to take account of engine hours and
IRC ratings, we’re hoping we get lifted up the rankings and secure our first
podium finish (this would be the 2nd leg only we’ve started with the other
boats). Safety is always paramount but its hard not to get sucked into the
racing when boats are all around you and you get regular position reports.

So, Australia tomorrow. Nichola tells me its 11 months to the day we left
the UK. Tempus Fujit. Time really does fly. We flicked through our photos
earlier – we look so young and so naive when we first started. There was
plenty we didn’t know that we didn’t know (and probably there is loads

12.4 knots. Still surfing. 12.7. Crash, a huge wave breaks over the boat and
fills the cockpit. The children read in their cabins and are blissfully
unaware and peaceful. Magic all round.

13.1 knots.

Time to be on deck.

Team Aretha in Australian Waters, Out.

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