It could have been a location shoot for a new James Bond film, but it was part of the blanket of security Australia has thrown over Sydney for the visit of US President George W Bush.
After holding a news conference today, Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard and their delegations boarded a sleek yacht at Man o' War Wharf and headed for Garden Island in Sydney Harbour.
Bush and Howard climbed to the upper deck to survey one of the world's most picturesque harbours on a rare drizzly spring day in Sydney, flanked by the zodiac boats and security jet-skiers.
Journalists followed behind on a rickety tour boat named ''Mystery Bay'' steered by a long-haired, bearded captain.
Bush and Howard waved to the journalists as they toured the harbour. Four jet skiers fanned out in front of the yacht and led the way.
As a navy gunboat bobbed offshore, Bush's yacht paused for a close-up view of Sydney's iconic opera house before heading to anchor.
Accompanied by Howard, Bush also had a look at the Royal Australian Navy's heritage centre at the Garden Island naval base, from which Australian sailors bound for Iraq ship out.
Bush joined several hundred Australian troops and sailors for lunch beneath a giant outdoor tent. He went through the buffet line and loaded his plate with steak, prawns, and corn on the cob.
''I'm looking forward to you buying me lunch today. I'm a meat guy,'' Bush joked to Howard ahead of the lunch.
Bush rubbed shoulders with Australian defence chiefs and ordinary soldiers, sailors and air force crews. Also in the throng was US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Australia's defence minister.
Bush and Howard posed for photos with kitchen staff. ''I believe the work you are doing... is necessary for peace,'' Bush told the crowd before listening to country music played by Australian Golden Guitar winner Felicity Urquhart.
''Thanks for making the sacrifice necessary for peace.'' He acknowledged ''these are tough times'' but insisted: ''We're going to win and we're going to succeed.'' Bush's words were met with polite applause.
Reuters CS DB1008