Monday, October 30, 2006

Reef reaching

We past north Minerva reef at dawn yesterday morning and excitedly set a new waypoint for Opua, New Zealand. Fortunately we checked the chart and realised our new course took us straight over south Minerva reef. Somewhat chastened we set a new course and past all reef dangers by 11am. It's understandable why, prior to GPS, the majority of boats gave these reefs a wide berth. Most of the reef is submerged with the occasional rock breaking the water barely allowing identification. Even our radar, which clearly picked out the Tuamotu atolls, struggled to pick up much of a target on the 6 mile range. However we both would have loved to have stopped there. The thought of being anchored in relatively calm waters, while appearing to be in the middle of the ocean would have been a unique experience ... and there's allegedly an abundance of lobsters.
The wind decreased throughout the morning until we were making less than 5 knots under full sail. As the sea was relatively calm we thought we'd try the cruising chute. We haven't made much use of it to date, as if there's much swell it tends to crash around alternatively emptying and filling. It looked like perfect light-sail weather and proved to be, easily adding another knot to our speed and helping us keep the combined challenge from Zeferin and Noa, who left Minerva that morning, at bay. It's not the most restful of sails to use, as in gusts it tends to take over from the self-steering and pull the boat off course. After a morning of manual steering and experimentation we'd tamed the sail and George (the self-steering) and the cruising chute, while not best of friends, were peacefully coexisting.

Position at 01:25 31st October (GMT +13): S25° 01' W179° 51'
Daily run: 124.0 nmiles
Distance to go to Opua: 672 nmiles

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