One of the few mariners calculations that I remember is: "the square root of the height of an object in feet is the distance in nautical miles that it is first seen from the seat of a kayak". If the sea is flat you can add an extra three nautical miles (but this is hardly ever the case) so I just allow the extra as a margin for error.
So what has this to do with Gary, Eddie and Paul's big adventure? Well, by looking at high points on charts for the Capricorn Cays and the adjoining mainland it becomes obvious that on most days of this trip they have paddled on open ocean toward an empty horizon without the comforting visual reassurance of seeing land until their last few nautical miles.
Tomorrow however, they will be paddling to the mainland from Masthead Island. This tiny isle has only a few metres of elevation and is less than one nautical mile in length. Their destination for the day will be Facing Island off Gladstone. As they approach, the hinterland will appear as isolated high points like small islands and then slowly consolidate into the vast land mass of the East Coast.
When their boats grind up onto the sand of Facing Island and they look at the busy shipping lanes out of Gladstone Harbour what will they feel? My guess is a mixture of deep satisfaction at the adventure they have shared, relief that they have achieved their goals safely, and trepidation at how they will adjust to what we call the "real world". For a while traffic will sound louder, the air will smell heavier and everything will seem just a little too complicated. On the upside they will look forward to family and friends, and to sharing their adventure with us.
Tonight's update from Masthead Island included: another serious shark encounter for Paul; a chance meeting with a marine researcher who owns a vintage Nordkapp and lives on Heron Island; and a lunch break on Wistari Reef as the tide slowly reclaimed it for the sea. The guys were also pleased to add sea snakes to the lengthy list of wildlife that have been checking out their inaugural northern migration.
I can't wait to see the photos.