Beveridge Reef

Monday 8/26/2013 20 00.497 S 167 44.872 W posting by Barb: We approached Beveridge Reef at 7 in the morning. The wind was blowing 20 knots out of the north, great wind for sailing but not so great when trying to maneuver through a narrow east – west pass into the lagoon. The sky was grey without any sign of the sun coming out. The reef was not charted on our plotter so we were using a paper chart that we obtained from the Harbor Master in Rarotonga. So the combination of the paper chart, grey sky, rough seas and the fact that no sign of land could be seen, even with the use of binoculars made this a very unnerving navigation through a pass. As we approached the entrance we could finally see the surf and teal water on both sides of the pass. Once through, the lagoon was calmer and that gave us some comfort. We had to navigate to the other side of the lagoon to anchor in a spot as recommended by the paper chart. We could see a mast from miles away so we knew there was another boat there. We dropped anchor a safe distance from the other boat and far enough away to give them the calm and serenity that such an anchorage can provide. It was eerie to be anchored in the middle of the South Pacific with no sign of land only surf breaking all around us. It rained heavily the first day so we just made it a movie, book, reflection kind of day while we listened to the rain beating on our deck. It was the first heavy rainfall that we had experienced since the Marquesa Islands and we were happy as it cleaned our heavily salted deck. On Sunday morning we got up early and did some maintenance to the boat as we waited for the sky to clear. By ten o’clock we were in the dinghy and heading to explore a wreck of a 90 foot trawler. Dennis was in his glee climbing around in knee deep water, sending crabs scurrying, and getting wet from the surf crashing into the boat. I stayed high and dry on the stern of the wreck trying to take pictures of Dennis to capture his fascination of ‘wrecks’. We both wondered if lives were lost when the trawler ran aground on the reef. We were not surprised that such a thing happened considering that all that can be seen all around is surf. From there we dinghied to the other sailboat on the reef, stopping along the way for Dennis to do some snorkeling. After a quick hello to our neighbors, a couple from Germany, we headed back to the pass to do some snorkeling there. The current was strong so snorkeling was a little unsettling and a few times I felt panic as I had to swim hard to get back to the dinghy. Dennis, always being more vigilant, stayed closer to the dinghy. We decided to drift snorkel with the dinghy for a while. I started to notice the fish getting bigger and even saw a grey shark a safe distance below. When I came up for a look Dennis was already in the dinghy and indicated that we had drifted outside of the reef and we were in the open seas. I scrambled into the dinghy and felt the fear creep in knowing that if the dinghy outboard motor failed us we would continue our drift to Tonga as there would be no way of rowing against the current. The 2 minute dinghy ride back into the reef was probably the most scared I have been since we departed 6 months ago. We both agreed that it had been a foolhardy snorkel drift and things could have turned sour very quickly. Monday we pulled up anchor early in the morning and started our 159 mile passage to Nuie. I found the anchorage in Beveridge Reef a spiritual, peaceful and enlightening experience, as we sat in our little boat, anchored in a calm lagoon, only 500 feet from a wreck, completely surrounded by nothing but the roaring surf and the vastness of the ocean. Beveridge reef is a little oasis in the middle of the South Pacific.

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