Life at Beveridge Reef
12 August 2009
All three boats that were here when we arrived (Dosia, Bagheera, Brick House) left by the end of the day we arrived. Brick House had been here a week, and decided it was time to move on. Dosia left first---they lost their dinghy here a few days earlier. It probably broke away under the wind and waves, and was driven over the reef or through the pass and is on its own journey round the world, or at least, to Tonga or Australia. We're all being extra careful with our dinghies now, as there is quite a lot of wave action bouncing them around if they're tied up behind the boats.
On the morning of the second day (10th), the yacht Content arrived --- this is Nick and Marls from Hobart, Tasmania. We took the crews of all three boats and two dinghies on Kena for a full day of diving. The first phase was a series of drift dives through the pass. The flow is always out. While Kena hovered to one side of the pass at the outside, the dinghies went to the inside of the reef, everyone jumped over, and the whole ensemble drifted through the pass with everyone in loose association with the dinghies. Tomas had his first encounter with a school of sharks, some of which were feeding on a large school of fish on a ridge in the pass. After doing this five or six times, we then anchored Kena on the outside of the reef to the south of the pass and went diving directly from her. From there, we moved back through the pass and inside the lagoon to the south to look for the fabled large lobsters. The scouting party returned with the leg of a very large lobster, but that was all. They seem to be fairly well hidden, and in the case of the one that they tried to get, well entrenched. It was decided that we'd have to do night diving to have the best chance of finding them. Throughout, the visibility was just amazing---about the best we've ever seen, and somewhat over 100 meters.
The wind has been increasing steadily, and will peak through the night tonight. We are anchored on the sand shelf on the eastern side of the lagoon and the wind is from the south east. The highest speed we've seen so far is in the low 30 knots and the grib files tell us to expect gusts up to 40 or more tonight.
Yesterday and today we swam to the reef from the boat. It's somewhere between a quarter and a half mile. There is huge surf crashing onto the reef, which generates a strong current from the reef towards the boats, so it takes up to 45 minutes of hard swimming to get to the reef. Over the reef, the current is much stronger, and in certain areas it is only possible to move forward by grabbing parts of the reef and pulling yourself forward. The whole thing is a major aerobic workout.
In spite of the high winds, the visibility remains outstanding. The coral at the reef is very alive, and there are many different fishes, eels, and sharks. Swimming around the boat is amazing, as the boat is suspended in light blue space and totally clear.
We're disappointed that the wind continues to stay high. It's going to be very difficult to do a night dive for lobsters under these conditions. Still, it's an amazing place. The colors of the water, the crashing surf on the reef all around the horizon, the howling in the rigging, and the whitecaps in the lagoon make a dramatic picture.
We've been visiting with the crews of the other two boats, and have provided them with movies and software support for playing them, so now they are hunkered down, watching movie after movie!
Tane has just spent some time trying to spear a fish near the boat, but was interrupted by a black tip shark that became very interested in the proceedings. We've been doing some fishing from the boat, and have so far caught a queenfish and a jobfish, both quite large. If we leave the line out unattended, it always comes back with just a frayed end, minus the hook, and any weights. We suspect that a smaller fish gets on, then a shark comes along and takes the lot.
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