Going balmy

We are surrounded by the ocean on our last full day on the Reef Prince, so we decide to sleep in until 6.30am and skip the sunrise.

A lazy day follows, filled with food, snoozing and slide shows. I feel the most relaxed I have in years.

The food excesses are outlined on the activities whiteboard below (a continental breakfast at 6am due to rough seas, then a hot one at 7.30am when the waves settle):

There’s a photo competition that’s fiercely fought. Despite Paul declaring DD has the best eye among the passengers, he walks away empty handed. Here are three of his beautiful entries:

I win a prize – a Kimberley DVD – in the general category for the shot below.

After lunch, DD, Barry, Danny and Jo try their hand at fishing off the back of the boat. Fish are leaping out of the water all around us while birds swirl overhead, hoping to score a feed. DD reels in the first catch of the day – a golden trevally.

A few more golden trevally follow before Danny catches a bonito tuna. Bait fish pour from the tuna’s mouth when it lands on the deck. Here’s Fritz posing with it:

And here’s Nick with the tuna and DD’s trevally:

Chef Jayden slices the tuna into sashimi and we eat it for afternoon tea. It is insanely fresh and delicious. The three trevally that the fishing fans caught are set aside to be turned into fish and chips for our lunch tomorrow.

We anchor at North Perron Island for the night. Long tables draped in white tablecloths and decorated with shells and candles are arranged on the front deck of the boat so we can enjoy our last dinner together under the stars. It’s a long time since I’ve seen the Milky Way so clearly above me. The air is balmy, with a gentle breeze. It’s perfect weather to end our holiday. We sip pre-dinner cocktails and watch the glorious sunset before sitting down to a feast of slow-cooked pork shoulder pasta, followed by lemon posset for dessert.

DD gathers the crew and gives a speech thanking them, with a special mention to Fritz (above) for helping him lose his fishing virginity.

I swish around in my colourful kaftan for the final time and wonder whether I will ever have an opportunity to wear it in the real world.

After dinner we wander to the back of the deck and DD heads to the top level to take photographs of the stars. I chat to the chef, engineer and first mate as they unwind after another busy day. We are joined by Trish, who may be the oldest passenger, but the youngest 77 year old I’ve ever met.

Tomorrow we will anchor in Darwin to have our mandatory COVID tests. Instead of disembarking by 10am as planned, they are hoping to have us off the boat by 3-4pm. We all cross our fingers tightly.

Click here to read more at The Thirsty Travellers.

Song of the day: Simply Red “Stars”

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