17 August 2008 | Beveridge Reef
We arrived at Beveridge Reef early in the morning on August 10th and easily negotiated the pass, thanks in large part to the chart (complete with GPS coordinates) given to us by the Rarotonga Port Captain.
Beveridge Reef is a pretty amazing pit-stop because, as an almost completely submerged reef, you really can't even see it until you're practically on top of it. As you're sailing along the only sign that something's a bit different are the ocean breakers that form on the perimeter of the reef. These breakers are created when the ocean swell that's been chugging merrily along uninterrupted for thousands of miles suddenly meets up with a wall of coral blocking its way. If one hasn't been diligent with one's navigation this "invisible" reef could really ruin one's day. In fact it's ruined a few people's days as evidenced by the wrecks that are still visible and available for snorkeling and exploring.
The reef itself is roughly 4 miles by 5 miles, so a pretty large area inside. The depths inside are only about 30-40 feet and the water clarity is AMAZING. In fact, as we were coming inside the pass John was on the bow to look for any submerged coral heads that we'd understandably want to steer around. At one point he called back to me, sounding a bit concerned, "HOW DEEP IS IT HERE!?" (Concerned because he could quite clearly see the bottom, with treacherous chunks of coral and rock). We were in over 80 feet of water at the time.
So we motored on in without incident and set the anchor in about 30 feet. We could look down and see our anchor along with several 10-inch long sea slugs as clearly as if we were looking through the glass of a table-top aquarium.
The color of the water was amazing, too. And that's really saying something as, having just made our way through French Polynesia, we have see some pretty amazing colors of water. (How many ways can you praise the Turquoises, Azures, Ceruleans, yada yada?) Well this water looked like (hmmm, how can I describe it a bit more poetically than...) blue Listerine. An intensely clear, bright, jewel-like blue.
So, you know, the water was pretty.
Unfortunately as we arrived the wind was blowing at about 20 knots, and continued to do so for a couple of days. The anchorage was still pretty comfortable because the reef blocked the ocean swell, so we just had a bit of wind chop. But the wind chop made snorkeling a bit more of an athletic endeavor than we normally enjoy. But we gave it a go and had a pretty good time, although Sophie was a bit unnerved by the fish. The fish were very, very curious about us and would come right up and get in your face (mask). At one point I looked over at Sophie and there were about 30 fish (all about 8-10" long) swarming her. She wasn't too keen on that action so we ended our swim a bit earlier than John and Maddie who set off to explore the remains of a sunken fishing trawler that had wrecked on the reef, sunk and was now breaking apart and slowly disintegrating in about 20 feet of water.
Although Beveridge Reef could have been an ideal place to idyll away many more days, the wind chop discouraged us from doing much more swimming, and really there was NOTHING else to do there so we decided to head out for our next destination, the island of Niue.