The last rays of the setting sun light the sky above the Pacific as an Australian couple, Michael and Larissa Hoult, skim across the waves aboard their catamaran, ROAM. But before they know it, they find themselves in the most extraordinary sea they’ve ever encountered. Astonishingly, its surface appears to be composed of a blanket of rocks stretching as far as the eye can see.
The Hoults are sailing in the South Pacific Ocean. The nearest land mass of any size is New Zealand’s North Island, around 1,300 miles to the south-west. The closest land of any kind is an uninhabited volcanic speck some 45 miles to the east of ROAM’s position. Late Island is part of the Kingdom of Tonga and its main island, Tonga, is about 150 miles south of the Hoults.