Leaving Huon Reef tomorrow

We expect to leave Huon Reef tomorrow at about 11 am local time and make the 284 nautical mile passage to Chesterfield Reef. Light and shifting winds are predicted and we expect the passage to take 44 – 48 hours. Chesterfield Reef also belongs to France (New Caledonia) and is an important nesting site for turtles and sea birds. Our permission letter from the French Ministry of the Environment includes Chesterfield. More on Chesterfield once we arrive there.

A storm came through here on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we did not go to shore on either of those days. We saw the storm coming more than a week ago in the GRIB weather charts. Along with “Wombat of Sydney”, we decided that the safest place for us to be was right where we are. All we did is reposition the boats a bit to get more protection from the island, and put out almost all of our anchor chain. The waves were 15-18 feet outside the reef (but just wind chop inside the reef) and the wind was consistently above 30 knots gusting to 40 knots on Tuesday night, but we were comfortable onboard Sabbatical III. There was a report of 57 knots in the anchorage at Noumea. It was not the best sleeping weather with the howl of the wind and the sound of the anchor chain and snubber straining. The good thing was the driving rain that cleaned the bird droppings off of the deck. It was the first rain we had seen in at least a month.

The seas are coming down rapidly and during our passage the wind will be clocking around to the north, then west, and back to southeast, so it is a good time to leave. Huon only provides protection from the southeast quadrant. The east-southeastly trade winds should be re-established by the time we get to Chesterfield. Chesterfield reef has only a few sand islands, and our entrance to the reef complex is located at about:

S19 degrees 49.3 minutes
E158 degrees 23.7 minutes

The course is 248 degrees true from Huon Reef.


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