To the Great Barrier Reef

© Vincent Hilaire / Fondation Tara Expéditions

25 August 2017

On Thursday morning at 10 am local time, Tara headed northeast after crossing once again the magnificent Sydney Bay.
Weather conditions were still optimal: sun, blue sky and just after exiting the bot-tleneck, a south wind of 25 knots.
It will take us about 4 days to reach our first research spot south of the Great Bar-rier Reef: beautiful Heron Island, a green speck on an ocean of blue.


After backing away from the wharf of the Australian National Maritime Museum, Captain Simon Rigal launched Tara’s 2 motors, heading out to sea for new adventures.
7 newcomers, mostly scientists, enjoyed the privilege of crossing one of the most beauti-ful natural bays in the world. Sydney is so peaceful and captivating that some of us left this city with a bit of regret.


1-credit clementine moulinTara leaves Darling Harbour in Sydney after a one-week stopover – © Clémentine Moulin / Tara Expeditions Foundation


Beyond the picture postcard views, what awaits us is one of the key sites of Tara Pacific’s second year, the Great Barrier Reef — the planet’s largest coral structure, constructed by a surprising animal, the polyp. Ranging in size from a millimeter to 30 centi-meters at most, polyps have built a structure visible from outer space! The polyp, an architect-builder? A pleonasm.


In contrast to our previous leg against the wind, we were now navigating downwind, so the sailors lost no time in hoisting Tara’s sails and unfurling the yankee jib. A few hours after leaving Sydney, we were sailing very comfortably at an average of a little more than 7 knots.


We should be in sight of Heron Island next Monday, 600 nautical miles (about 1,000 km) further north. In the meantime we’ll be following the coast westward to our destination: Newcastle, Port Macquarie and the Gold Coast, before leaving Frazer Island on the port side. We’ve lost sight of the coast, but it’s not very far, as attested by the charts.


10-photo 15_Fanche parle aux dauphins_Vincent HilaireFrançois Aurat, deck officer, the dolphin whisperer – © Vincent Hilaire / Tara Expeditions Foundation


A little while ago, after we trimmed the sails, a pod of 4 big dolphins came to greet us at the bow, showing us their magical jumps and pirouettes.
The first quarter-shifts have begun. We’ve settled again, gently this time, into the distinc-tive rhythm imposed by the sea.


Vincent Hilaire

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