06 Nov Minerva Reef, South Pacific Ocean
We had a great time in Minerva Reef. It was nice to have an 11-day break after the not-so-fun passage from Tonga. Last night and this morning we were bucking around quite a bit when the big swell mixed in with the wind waves! Our anchor location in Minerva Reef was 23 37.8S 78 53.7W, we were near the lighthouse. We have been waiting for a good weather window to continue South for the 804 nautical mile journey to Opua, New Zealand.
We have found that It is well protected here. We have had some really nice sunny and calm days, temperatures near 85. Then super windy days, with winds up around 15-18 knots, and gusts up to 24. This causes lots of wind waves, and at high tide we get a little swell over the reef, but the anchorage has felt secure. We have been mostly enjoying the cooler temperatures, it is in the low 80’s today :-). We finally are not sweating when we are moving around and our coconut oil is not liquid anymore. We first got out the fleece blanket, then got out the wool blanket! We have become such whimps living in the Tropics.
At low tide, a couple of coral sand spits open up, a big one is near the Lighthouse where we are anchored. We had a potluck one evening on the coral sand beach! Sv Lattitude Adjustment had caught fish, and sv Pauline Claire brought in a bbq, so we had fresh barbecued fish! The following night we had sv Summer over for dinner. Leo had hunted and caught a lobster! It was a great appetizer to our nice meal. After dinner we played a couple rounds of Chicken feet dominos, it was a fun night.
We are getting low on eggs and fresh produce, but have plenty of food, including dried legumes, grains, fruit and for backup, cans a plenty. We are trying to eat up all the food that we will not be able to keep once we enter New Zealand, (eggs, cheese, produce, meat, dried legumes…)
We have a few boat projects and lots of other things to keep us busy. We have ventured around the reef a little, walked, snorkeled, paddleboarded and took the dingy out exploring. We have seen a variety of fishes and have tried to identify a few; we saw grey sharks, schools of Blueline snappers, Angelfish, Rainbow or Surge wrasse, several Spotted trunkfish and a Stingray with a super long tail (with 2 Remoras cleaning it). There is colorful coral here and there, but nothing to write home about. 🙂
Some of the Yachties, snorkeled outside the pass and said it was awesome. Beautiful coral, sharks, big parrot fish and lots of smaller fish were highlights we’ve heard about. Friends who fished there have stories about the sharks stealing their catch, so future visitors to Minerva, beware!
We look at the weather several times a day, examining, trying to decide when to make the jump. We have also been using a weather router, Bob McDavitt, who is aware of our parameters. We have heard from him every couple days. Of course, weather is the main topic of conversation here at the reef. Many of us use weather routers, we share their information and what we are seeing from our downloaded gribs. Then each boat makes their decision when it is right to sail on.
It has been quite the Merry-go-round, boats in and boats out. The big exodus of boats is nicknamed the Minerva Flush. If you are one of the boats left, you question your decision to stay (or their decision to leave 8:0)! This is also known as the analysis-paralysis of Minerva Yacht Club. We have had up to 10 boats in the reef, and as few as 4. Some boats left in what seemed to us like crazy weather, ,high seas and adverse winds. We have heard from several of them that it was a tough passage, but they have arrived in New Zealand!
On Sunday, another group left thru a calm high, with some big swell (bye Summer!). From what we heard, the swell was not too bad, but the light winds make for a long journey and generally lots of motoring! We are definitely hoping for calmer seas on the next part of the passage. I did not feel well (sea sickness) for most of the 4 day journey from Tonga to North Minerva. :(. We are waiting for steady SE winds and reduced swell and it looks like our weather window is arriving!
Also on Sunday, mv Sea Witch arrived. There were only 4 of us boats left in Minerva. Sea Witch is one of the few motorboats out doing a similar journey as ours. We had met Jorden, the captain in Papeete. When we stopped over to greet them, they gave us a fresh pineapple and a bunch of bananas! What a wonderful world!
In preparation for the passage I made a big batch of granola, a fresh batch of dill pickles and will be preparing a couple more meals later today. The domestic goddess is alive and well.
We had more 7 boats arrive today, including our good friends, Muskoka and Harlequin! (Very exciting!) It appears the Minerva Yacht Club will be operating in full force. Tonight we are having an annual meeting aboard Muskoka! It also looks like we will have some company heading towards New Zealand, as tomorrow, Wednesday we will be leaving Minerva Reef!!!