Anchored inside Beveridge Reef

by Drew on August 2, 2009

We arrived at Beveridge Reef yesterday just after noon. The last day of sailing was crap compared to the first three days. It started raining in the middle of the night Friday and so far, it hasn’t stopped but for one hour long window the sun just happened to show itself and guide us safely across the lagoon. The fact there’s no land here, just reef, is still crazy as hell to me even though we’re anchored right here in the middle of it. It’s much larger here than I thought it would be. The lagoon is probably 2 miles across and double that north to south. It’s shaped somewhat like a kidney bean. There is a small wreck on the eastern side and we’re anchored south of it on a sand shelf in about nine feet of water. One other sailboat is in here about a half mile to our north. The reef is dead ahead about 200 yards so if the rain wasn’t stopping us from opening the hatches and windows we’d be listening to the soft, relaxing beat of waves crashing. As it happens, the weather is not so relaxing.

Last night it started blowing hard. The perfect forecast I’d been staring at for the last week suddenly had a change of heart and formed a low just southeast of us. It looks like we’d be far enough west to avoid it but obviously we’ve not much luck when it comes to weather avoidance as of late. I feel really sorry for the folks who left Raro just behind us. Especially Chuck and Joan on Tender Spirit who departed on Thursday and are probably getting the crap kicked out of them. The wind is blowing in the 30-35 knot range, the rain is shootin’ sideways at us, and enough of the ocean swell is coming in over the reef to make it bouncy. I put an extra snubber on the anchor line early this morning in case we chafe through the first one. The great thing here is that if the anchor did break loose, we’d have plenty of time to unknowingly drift before we hit anything! It’s hard to say whether we’re better off in here since if we’d kept going we would certainly be far enough west to avoid this thing but it is nice to be anchored and sitting somewhat still. Of course, it’d be a lot nicer if I was snorkeling and diving in this crystal clear water instead hunkered down in our little home drinkin coffee listening to the wind howl through the rigging! After the sneak preview of what the water in this place looks like yesterday during our little sunshine window, there’s no way I’m leaving here till we get a chance to peek under the surface and see some wildlife.

Speaking of wildlife, yesterday we finally saw one of my all time fantasies come to fruition. We were barely a half mile off the south side of the reef motoring around to the lagoon entrance. The rain had let up for a couple of minutes and was just a sprinkle. I was staring over at the breakers on the reef when directly in the middle of my field of vision a massive Humpback whale breached almost completely out of the water! It was so far above the surface I could see on its body where the skinny part of the tail started to widen into the flukes. It did a kind of a twist in mid air and land with a massive splash. I screamed “WHALE” and Marge came flying off the settee and up to the cockpit. There was at least one more humpback, maybe two, because as soon as she stepped foot on deck the second whale breached the surface and she got a great look at it. They danced on the surface for another minute or two before they calmed down and swam around shooting water out of their blowholes. We slowed down and waited, camera in hand, for another show but they finally dawdled off altogether and we lost sight. After talking to each other in Dory’s whale voice (“Finding Nemo” fans will know what I mean) for three days hopeful that we’d see one, Marge and I couldn’t believe our luck. It certainly goes down as one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The fact we’re in the middle of the ocean on our own boat next to a remote reef it took over three days to get to made it all the better. There’s no better way to appreciate such an experience and it will certainly go down in my long list of unbelievable things this trip has allowed me to see and do.

Alright, looks like it’s time to wake Marge up and start movie day here on Dosia. It doesn’t look like this weather is calming down any time soon and I promised we’d watch “The Notebook” on the next rainy day.

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