Archive for July 24th, 2010

At Beveridge Reef, Briefly

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

After eight days at sea, we dropped the anchor in 10 feet of water on a sandy shelf on the eastern rim of the Beveridge Reef lagoon. 

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Coming through the entrance pass was relatively easy, with only a small bit of drama when the two navigation programs we use didn’t agree on the bearing of the waypoint for the center of the pass as we approached.  Unlike the other atolls we’ve visited, Beveridge Reef does not break the surface of the water; there are no palm-carpeted motus or navigation markers to indicate the location of the pass, only the absence of breaking waves.  So we stopped to verify the coordinates each program was using before continuing, but it made no difference, the two machines still disagreed.   We ended up relying primarily on our good old-fashioned equipment: a crewman’s eyes (K’s) up at the first spreader.  As it turned out, K’s visual estimation of the center of the pass matched up pretty well with the waypoint (which we’d gotten from a previous reef visitor).  Once inside, the lagoon was a fairly steady 30-40 feet deep, with only a few shallow coral patches. Nice!

While S took a trip to the Land of Nod, K made a quick late afternoon survey in the turbulent remnants of ocean breakers that flowed across the reef at high tide. The water in the atoll was fantastic, delightfully cool and unbelievably clear.  

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It looked promising for some good pics at low tide in the morning when the atoll would be mirror-calm if the winds were light.

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After dinner we dinghied over to take a look at the M/V Liberty, which sits forlornly on the reef, a stark reminder for mariners to stay vigilant. 

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The weather forecast we had when we’d arrived called for moderate winds (15 kts) for the next few days, and we looked forward to exploring as much of the atoll as possible. Unfortunately, the forecast we downloaded in the evening called for higher winds by morning.

The new forecast was right. Monday came cloudy and drizzly, with winds gusting to the mid-20s.   Not good for snorkeling.  We resigned ourselves to the fact that the long-anticipated days of us soaking in the wonders of Beveridge Reef were not meant to be.

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We were boat-bound and spent the day doing chores and monitoring the anchor.  We had absolutely no protection from the wind but were well protected from the huge breakers pounding onto the reef about a thousand feet in front of us.  We were safe and could’ve stayed, but with the forecast predicting the high winds to continue for the next five days, the attraction of being at Beveridge Reef was gone.  We pulled anchor the next morning to continue our journey to Niue, only 130 nm to the northwest. 

20°00.46’S 167°44.78’W   18-Jul-10 23:17 UTC