23 July 2010 | Beveridge Reef
Holy Reefs in the Middle of Nowhere, Batman! This is CRAZY! This place is seriously crazy. Words defy, cameras can't capture, the mind can't wrap around it even as you see it with your own eyes. A big, circular reef rising out of thousands of feet of deep, dark ocean, with no land. Just waves crashing on the submerged sharp teeth of the huge coral reef. I can only imagine the terror and surprise unsuspecting mariners must feel to be lolling along for days and days with nothing but nothing, and then see -- or worse, hear -- waves crashing. The wreck of a 90 foot trawler is lying in 1 foot of water to the east of us, jutting up out of the sea, one of those sober reminders that life, and the sea, are both immeasurably dangerous.
We were not sure we'd make it in, if the winds and waves were too much, but they eased off as we'd hoped, and the entrance through the reef was pretty simple. We had some GPS way points which we plugged into our E-120 electronic navigation thingy, and it's a good thing we had something accurate, because the whole reef was depicted about 2 miles farther west on the E-120 charts. It might be useful to note that the ancient paper charts we have on board have the reef in the correct position. Multiple sources are good, but only two makes it one against the other. And neither is always right, as we've learned through experience. Thankfully we had not only a third reference which served as a tie-breaker of sorts, but also Paikea Mist who went in ahead of us. Since they made it in using the waypoints we had, we were comfortable following.
It was very odd to look out across the sea and there, resting at anchor a few miles away, was Paikea Mist, settled in clear water the color of a pale sapphire. She looked almost like a skeleton, her sails put away, just the mast and rigging seen from the other side of the lagoon within this odd reef. Oh my, I can't quite find the words for any of this, it's just so unusual.
But, as life would seem to go, it's not all idyllic. Although we'd like to loll in this private lagoon and sip cold drinks and read books in the hammock as it swings gently from the davit, and plan our scuba diving for the next few days, we're instead dealing with yet another mechanical/equipment issue. Our generator has been intermittently shutting down within 5 minutes of starting for the last few days, so we suspected an overheat/water flow problem but while underway, had no way to determine the cause. As soon as we dropped anchor Allan was in the water for a swim, he can't help it -- but after that, he was delving into the generator issues. Feeling compassion for us, Michael and Gloria invited us over for blueberry pancakes with white chocolate raspberry ice cream and freshly roasted Cook Islands Coffee. Wisely, we didn't say no to that extravagant offer ("The best brunch in Beveridge Reef!" Gloria promised.) Then Michael accompanied Allan back to Fly Aweigh to assess the situation. The long and short, or maybe just the short, is that the sea water impeller was trashed. And it was trashed because the pump ran dry. Why the pump ran dry is still a mystery. Something could have blocked the intake, like a big leaf or a piece of plastic, or, or, or ... Allan and Michael are still speculating. (Personally, I find it odd that a huge diesel engine is installed in our boat with no gages - no temperature gage, no oil pressure gage, very odd, but apparently a normal and acceptable situation in boats.) Today we'll deal with this, and go explore the dive spot on the other side of 3-mile lagoon in our dinghy to make a plan for tomorrow's dives. I can only imagine what the diving must be like with no rivers to muck up the lagoon, no tourists to trash the coral with their clumsy errant flippers, no looters taking samples to sell in little booths in town. We're very excited to get in, but today we're all tired from the last 3 days at sea and will rest up before donning tanks and gear. I might get the kayak and paddle out to the edge of the reef just to get a close look at those spectacular breakers.
At the moment, it's just the two of us here, Fly Aweigh and Paikea Mist, and what a wonderful feeling to have this amazing spot to ourselves. Tomorrow the sailboat Mary Powell may arrive, she's a day behind us out of Rarotonga, and we know of a few others with Beveridge on their minds, but for now, we'll enjoy the utter privacy and beauty of this place.