Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 9: arrived in North Minerva

Date: May 18, 2015
23° 39.695' S 178° 55.027' W
Water Temp: 73.4

I'm anchored on the south side of North Minerva Reef. Yay.

Minerva Reef is a small circular reef. There is a passage into the reef on the NW corner, 150m wide. The pass is deep, I believe the shallowest I saw was 75feet. One you are inside, the depths in the middle are roughly 80 feet which shallows slightly as you approach the edges. I'm anchored in 50 feet of water, on a sand bottom with coral bommies scattered around.

There is a fringing sand shelf, however unlike Beveridge, it doesn't look like you can anchor on the shelf. The guide I has talks about the shelf being a thin layer of sand on coral and from what I see, I agree with that.

When I was starting my cruising in New Zealand after my time in the tropics last year one of the memories I have is how easy anchoring became again. You would pick an anchorage, move up to it, look for a space away from other boats, drop your anchor, back up to set it and you were done. There was no coral on the bottom. This is much like the PNW, or much of higher latitude cruising. I'm back in coral again and my first anchoring attempt was a bit of a gong show. I motored around for 1/2 an hour until I thought I had found a good spot. I dropped my anchor, backed up, letting out more chain and after letting out 160 feet realized that the chain was now draping across a bommie that used to be behind me but was now ahead of me due to the length of chain I let out. Oops. So I started to bring the chain back in to try over and realized the chain had snagged something down below - 50 feet down below, much deeper than I can free dive. After a number of tries motoring in various directions trying to unhook the chain, it got free. Yipee! As I brought the rest of the chain in it again got stuck - the anchor had become set against another short coral outcropping. This one was trickier and getting it unstuck took 20 minutes. I was about to call to the other boats to see if anybody had dive equipment when I tried one last time and the anchor came free. There are large sand patches here, and now I'm anchored in one, comfortably.

Two days ago I sailed through the front that I had expected. The front had 30 knots of wind with rain and there was a very sudden shift from NW/WNW to SW. I felt so lucky to have access to all the weather information that I do, I was able to see this front days ahead of time, plan for the shift and be in a good place for the steady winds which followed it. Thanks Sailmail, GFS and all the other people who make this possible!

The last two days at sea were in pretty steady 20-25 knots of wind, on my beam - a bit ahead or behind depending on the wind shifts with waves increasing to 3 to 4 meters. It was a pretty wet ride with lots of spray all over. I ended up with needing to slow down in order to arrive in daylight and for much of the last night I was sailing under staysail alone, making 3-5 knots. With my double reefed main up, I would be making 4-6 knots - too fast, it had me arriving at the reef at 5am. Both of these setups were bomb proof in the conditions. Both evenings and mornings were quite squally. A squall would approach and the wind would back or veer and increase in speed by 5 or 10 knots. Flying a staysail and double reefed main meant there was no worry about reefing for squalls - I would just speed up for a while and the boat felt fine - not stressed, no pounding, quiet.

I'll probably spend at least 4 or 5 days here, and then look for a good weather window to move along.

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  1. Yay! Anchored and so to sleep! Enjoy. Lots of fish to look at at? xo mum

  2. Love hearing how your PSC is such a steady Freddy! Love these boats! Rest well.