Sunday, July 27, 2014

Beveridge Reef Photos

I was at Beveridge Reef for 10 days, initially by choice and later waiting for a good weather window to make my way to Niue.  While I was there only one other boat came into the reef, they stayed one night and left the next morning, a day before I left.  Beveridge Reef is something like 130nm SE of Niue.  Its truly out in the middle of nowhere.  I can't imagine a more remote anchorage.

From what I understand, Beveridge reef is an atoll in the early stages of formation.  At this point, it has a reef, however the reef is submerged by several feed at high tide and just barely out of the water at low tide.  This means that at high tide there is no land visible 'as far as the eye can see.'  Its a study in blue with a little white and grey from the clouds thrown in.  Look out in any direction and you see beautiful blue water.  Look up and there was, on most days, a beautiful blue sky.  Blue blue blue.  The phrase 'bright blue' is completely appropriate there.  The bright sunshine enters the water and then reflects off the white sand beneath and comes back up.  Any surface which was facing down toward the water was colored by the waters reflection with a blue tint.  I would look up at my mast and spreaders to see them colored blue.  Bright blue water indeed.  It really is the most amazing place.

The reef has an inner sand shelf, which where I was, was 0.5 mile wide.  The area I explored seemed to be a pretty constant depth, 13.5 feet deep at  high tide and 9.5 feet at low tide.  Its pure sand, no coral at all, sand everywhere.  The shelf ends pretty abruptly, the shelf goes from 13.5 feet to 25 within 10 or 15 feet, and then that depth goes down to around 35 to 40 across the middle of the reef.  In the deeper section there is coral and some fish life, I didn't see very many fish around the shelf at all.  I did see a few sharks - and to my surprise, I got a little freaked out by them again.  I thought that after being surrounded by sharks in Moorea that I would have gotten over the whole 'scared of sharks' thing, but clearly that isn't true.  Being able to see a shark 100' away in the water is pretty astounding, but seeing it look over at you and then come over to explore registers on my 'a little bit freaky' meter.  I'm sure its fine, I just need some more quality time with them I guess.

Oh, and the water visibility here is astounding.  As the water is completely exchanged twice a day with fresh ocean water, I don't know how it could be any clearer.  I didn't see any organic life in the water at all.  In the Tuamotus I found that the water clarity was the best where there was a tidal inflow of water from across the reef into the atoll.  Well at Beveridge, you have the tidal inflow across the entire reef and at high tide there is a steady inflowing current.  In fact, swimming at high tide can be a little challenging - to swim upstream to my anchor at high tide I needed my flippers.  The point of the current being that the water is entirely fresh from the ocean and visibility is way over 100 feet.  Maybe 200?

I also saw a few Sting Ray's, and still think they're the cutest things ever, aside from dolphins of course.  Although these ones seem to hold their stinger in the Ready position, perhaps a little more wild than those in Moorea.

With the surroundings being so uniform - blue sky, multiple hues of blue in the water, white sand - my eye was drawn to anything that looked like it didn't belong, some contrast.  In this case, the only real contrast are the few critters, Luckness and the chain and anchor.  I was diving the anchor daily, partly as something to do, partly as its a good practice to check your anchor out.

Deeply buried anchor and chain

My Rocna was deeply buried here, which is very good to see.

The day here is broken pretty cleanly into thirds: something like 1/3 of the time the wave actions is so chaotic that it becomes an endurance contest to last through it, with the boat moving semi-randomly and suddenly in all different directions, pitching and rolling like crazy; then 1/3 not quite that extreme, but where you still need to be careful moving around; and 1/3, if the wind is semi-calm, of being anchored in a pond.  I loved this last 1/3 greatly, the first two, not so much. The tides control the waves.  At high tide the swell from outside the reef doesn't come in, but it breaks on the submerged reef and you end up with smaller waves coming at you from every direction.  Rather than a regular wave pattern approaching you, you get very chaotic waves which seem to spring up out of nowhere and then subside again.  Its a little wild.

It rained one day, which was good as I was getting due to start replenishing my water tank.  My rear tank was still full at this point, my forward tank had a little more than a 1/2 tank left.  The rain was forecast and came on schedule.

Sometimes when it rains it passes quickly.  When the rain started Luckness was covered in salt, as the previous rain I had was in Moorea, before Bora Bora and before all that sailing - lots of salt buildup everywhere.  So I went around with a rag trying to wash the salt off Luckness as quickly as possible so that I could gather clean rainwater for the tanks.  But then the rain started coming heavier, and heavier - I stopped trying to clean the boat myself and let the rain take over that task.  It became torrential, I haven't been in such heavy rain, either for a long time, but perhaps ever.  It was pretty amazing.  I plugged the scuppers on both sides - I plugged the port side, then walked over to starboard and plugged that side, and by the time I walked back to the port side the side deck was almost full of water.  I tasted the water and it was a bit brackish, so I drained the side deck, and replugged.  I then repeated that on the other side, and by the time I came back to the port side it was full of water again.  I repeated this a few times, then the water was clean and I started gathering.  If both of my tanks had been empty I could have filled them both.  As it was, I put 18 gallons in my forward tank, filled the 5 gallon jug up and that was all I needed.  The rain didn't slow down for a while.

After the rain arrived, on schedule, I was ready to head off to Niue, but by then the weather started to become uncooperative.  It was forecast to be from the west by the time I got to Niue, which would be uncomfortable as that mooring field is fully open to the west.  So I waited at Beveridge for a few days.

Eventually the wind backed around, N, NW, W, SW, S.  By the time it started getting some east in the direction I took off for Niue.

I really liked my stay at Beveridge.  However, I would suggest to any others that come this way - bring a hobby that you enjoy with you!  Some swimming every day is essential, and fun, but after a little while you've done that.  You can look at the scenery for a while, but it doesn't change all that much.  Its astounding scenery, and I can stare at it for quite some time, but not all day.  You could read for a while, but not all day, or at least, I can't.  There are boat chores you can work on, but 2/3's of the day the boat is moving so much that working on her you could put yourself at risk.

I spent much of my time here working on a little software project I had put off for a while.  It was really satisfying to get back into it.  Between the sun and wind, I had more power here than I needed, so leaving my computer on for long periods wasn't an issue.  So my advice to all of you - become competent software developers!  You'll always have something engaging you can work on.

If any other cruisers want to visit the reef, note that my CMAP e-charts were over three miles off in this area.  I used the cruising guide written by Mr. John called The Dangerous Middle.  It has a hand drawn chart of the reef which appears to be accurate.  The pass is where it shows on the chart, and I anchored in the SE corner, which is accurate from the chart.  Anchoring here isn't a problem, the sand shelf is enormous and provides good holding.

I'm currently on a mooring at Niue.  Niue is awesome!  Among  many other good things, which I'll talk about later, they speak english here, which is a much greater relief to me than I should admit.  What type of world traveler am I if I can't get along easily in a non-english speaking area of the world?  I have no answer for that…but its so nice to be able to talk about things with the locals again, beyond 'good place!', 'nice day!', and other such banalities that I relied on in French Polynesia.

All is well here!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I'm on a mooring in the mooring fields at Niue. Yay!

I left Beveridge Reef on Saturday morning with nice wind, 10 knots from the ENE. As I was on a bearing of around 290 degrees, just north of west, that wind was very sailable and I made pretty good time. The forecast was for the wind to back around to the north over the day, with N or NNE winds overnight. The strength was forecast to stay in the 10 knot range, a little less overnight and then have it fall to light and eventually light from random directions Sunday evening. Unfortunately I got the light from random direction wind last night. At 1am Luckness was moving through the water at 1.9 knots, against a 0.5 knot current making little progress. At that speed, I wouldn't have been in Niue for quite a long time. I was hoping the forecast wind would return so I left the boat to make her slow way toward Niue for an hour, after which things slowed down a little. I started motoring at 2am and ended up motoring the rest of the way, around 12 hours with the engine on. Its noisy, its harder to sleep, when the engine is on it feels like there are so many more things that can go wrong and I worry about them - but Luckness' diesel engine has given nothing but reliable service. Without the engine I would still be 50 or 60 miles away, and perhaps days from arriving. The wind was in the range 0 to 3 knots from every direction of the compass. Old school sailors would still be out there, waiting patiently for the wind to arrive again. Instead, I'm here, on a mooring, getting ready to eat an early dinner, maybe drink a beer (no beer for me while on passages), and sleep soundly.

I'll check into the country Monday morning so I don't have much to report. The coastline is very green! The island isn't very large, Niue is the smallest country in the world. The island is also quite flat - it rises perhaps a few hundred feet and then is flat from that point on. Once I start exploring I'll take along my camera and forward a few pics. Which reminds me, I need to blog about Beveridge Reef and post a few pictures of that as well. I'll try to get to that this week - I've read that I will be able to have internet on the boat while on a mooring here. That would make updating things a little easier.

All is well. Well, perhaps I'm a little tired, that should soon be fixed.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Passage to Beveridge Reef: day 9 and arrival!

Date: July 10, 2014
20° 01.524' S 167° 45.945' W
24 hour run: 48nm
Previous 24 hour run: 116nm
Water Temp: 77.0. Brrrrr!
Log: ?
Distance to go: Zero!

Just a quick note, I've arrived in Beveridge Reef and am anchored on a sand shelf, in 10 feet of water, on the south side of the reef. I arrived at 3pm after almost abandoning the effort for today. There was a six to nine foot south to south west swell in the area, and I wasn't sure how that would go with the entrance to the reef, which is facing west. I decided to head over to the entrance and see how it looked. One thing led to another, and I motored through the pass at 1:30pm. It was a little hairy. The swell was much reduced in size, but what was left of it was meeting an outgoing current of 1.5kn - I wasn't quite surfing the boat in, but I had to be careful to keep her pointed in the right direction.

I'll talk more about where I am in some future post. For now -

All is well onboard. I'm looking forward to sleeping without being interrupted every 20 minutes tonight!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Passage to Beveridge reef, day 8

Date: July 8, 2014
19° 21' S 165° 34' W
24 hour run: 135nm
Previous 24 hour run: 134nm
Water Temp: 77.9. Brrr!
Log: 15020
Distance to go: 130nm

The previous two noon-to-noon runs were pretty decent, the wind had picked up and I made some good progress. The motion of the boat was not as relaxed as it had been, but it felt good to be making better speed through the water and the gurgling sound as Luckness created her wake and left it behind was nice to hear again. The forecast has been fairly accurate for these last few days. It predicted the stronger wind for the previous couple of days and that it would fall off today, as it has. Progress has slowed today. I was thinking I may have made it into the reef tomorrow, July 9th, but that won't happen now. I'm hoping to enter the reef on the 10th, although the conditions at the time will dictate my go/no-go decision. There is predicted to be a westerly wind on the 10th, and the pass faces west. I'm expecting that tonight the wind will start backing around to the north, with my ending up with an upwind sail by tomorrow.

Life here is good. Its warm out, although perhaps cooling down somewhat. Its winter here - the air temperature was below 80 degrees today - maybe even cooler than North America these days?

All continues to be well onboard.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Passage to Beveridge reef, day 6

Date: July 6, 2014
18° 35' S 160° 57' W
24 hour run: 128nm
Previous 24 hour run: 73nm
Water Temp: 80.6
Log: 14773
Distance to go: 398nm

The wind stayed away for a while, then came and blew for a while and has now gone away again. It was nice yesterday, sailing along at 6+ knots in 16-18 knots of wind. I'm currently sailing at 4.5 kts in 10 knots of wind, with a poled out genoa and a double reefed main. The main is deeply reefed as there is too little wind to keep the sail full in the swell, and reefing it stops it from banging back and forth as the boat pitches and rolls. There is a lot of pitching and rolling going on.

With any luck, I should be arriving on the 10th. I'm looking forward to my 'landfall' - as there is no land, only submerged reef. It should be an interesting stop.

All continues to be well onboard.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Passage to Beveridge, day 4

Date: July 4, 2014
17° 44' S 157° 24' W
24 hour run: 94nm
Previous 24 hour run: 115nm
Water Temp: 80.6
Log: 14584
Distance to go: 608nm

This is a slow, meandering, relaxing passage. The wind has stayed light but hasn't gone away completely. For the last three days, as darkness falls, the wind picks up to the range 13-15 and the boat moves well all night. During the days, the wind has been falling below 10.

I'll be picking up today's weather forecast in a few minutes, as this email goes out. Yesterdays forecast didn't turn out to be very accurate - the wind strength was in range, but the direction was forecast to be from the north and that didn't happen, it stayed NE. The forecast has been showing winds growing in strength over the weekend into the 20's, which would be nice.

All continues to be well onboard.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Passage to Beveridge, day 2

Date: July 2, 2014
16° 58' S 153° 48' W
Previous 24 hour run: 104nm
Water Temp: 82.4
Log: 14403
Distance to go: 815nm

I left Bora Bora yesterday, July 1st, in the afternoon. My visa had expired on June 30th and I had to move along. Goodbye French Polynesia! There are informal rules about being able to stay a little longer if the weather looks bad, the boat is not in order, etc, but for me none of that applied. The weather looked like it was going to be on the light side, but sailable, and Luckness is in fine shape.

The seas out here are comfortable and the winds are light - something like 7-12 knots from the E to ESE and I'm making slow progress. The winds are forecast to improve soon, then fade away again, and then pick up. I'm now sailing in an area where the normal trade winds no longer dominate. There is actual weather down here - with low pressure systems crossing a few hundred miles to the south, west to east, on a regular basis. As the lows pass by, the weather where I am is affected and the trades go away.

I'm heading to Beveridge reef, which is something like 140nm SE of Niue. I believe Niue is the worlds smallest country - a smallish outcropping of coral that sounds absolutely charming. Niue is associated with New Zealand and there appears to be many hiking trails on the island, along with decent beer and other things you would expect from NZ. Beveridge reef is a reef out in the middle of nowhere without any land. At high tide the reef is completely submerged and at low tide the reef is exposed slightly. I understand its an atoll in the very early stages of being formed. It is reputed to have water clarity which is outstanding, along with great snorkeling. As I approach, if the weather is unfavorable I will skip Beveridge and head straight to Niue.

All is well onboard.

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