05 November 2007 | North Minerva Reef - day 2
I'm really not sure how to start describing this place we are in, but OMFG is a good start.
We were only going to stay a few hours, but the most recent weather reports indicated spending last night and tonight here would help us miss a gale forecasted for northern New Zealand around 5 days from now (which is when we would be getting there).
Picture this: we are in the middle of the south pacific, seas are 2-3m. Sounder has not measured a depth in over 200 nm.
We wander into this reef, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, through an entrance that is around 150' wide, and the sea inside is *flat* calm.
We are currently anchored in the north east quadrant on the inside of Minerva reef.
In the distance, we can see a couple of other cruising sailboats anchored. I say in the distance, because the inside of the reef is over 3 miles in diameter. According to the charts, the deepest part in the centre of the reef is around 100' deep.
We are anchored in 40' of water with 200' of rode. I put my mask on and stuck my head under the water from the dingy. I could see our anchor off in the distance. Translation: the water is pretty freaking clear.
This morning, after reading in the cockpit for a while, I put on my sunglasses; the polarized lenses made an amazing difference... I was awestruck by the beauty of the deep azure ocean in the distance, the breaking surf at the edge of the reef, the turquoise water where it is shallow, then the royal blue water where the water gets a little deeper in the anchorage.
One of the striking visuals is of the surf breaking on the reef. It reminds me of the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but on a much grander scale. Spouts of white water reaching up tens of feet; walls of blue and white water streaking across the horizon as the waves break transversely on the reef. At night, there is a continuous cacophony of the surf breaking all around us; not the rhythmic sound I'm used to, but continuous due to the fact that the reef is circular and there are always waves breaking at some point on the diameter.
Morgan and I went snorkeling this afternoon. (HERE FISHY FISHY!!!) Needless to say, there are a few wrecks on this hunk of coral in the middle of nowhere. We snorkeled around 2 halves of what we figure was one boat. The life and colours under the water were equally as amazing as the view from above it. I took some pictures; I hope they turn out well enough to do it at least *some* justice. Saw a wack load of fish; pretty much the entire cast of "Finding Nemo".
We walked up to the edge of the reef; brown flatfish swam around us in the ankle deep water (it was coming off a low tide, so the sea was washing over the top of the reef).
Came back to the boat and had a big lunch. I had my celebratory Caeser (complete with the pickled asparagus that made the journey in my waylaid luggage) and Morgan had a beer that we exported from Tonga.
We'll probably weigh anchor at first light tomorrow and resume our trip to NZ (assuming all looks good on the WX front).
Hope all is well back home.