S 23 degrees 39 minutes
W 178 degrees 54 minutes
We arrived at Minerva Reef this morning – 8:30 a.m. local time.Â We had another beautiful day sailing yesterday – a few hours with some steep swell, and lots of wind (20 – 25 knots). By sunset everything calmed down a lot and we had an absolutely magnificent sail all night. We had to reef the sails so we would not go too fast – we didn’t want to arrive at Minerva before sunrise. About 5 miles before reaching the atoll we could the masts of three sailboats who were all inside the lagoon. All you can see of the reef as you approach are a few spots where there are waves crashing and a few rocks sticking out.
Minerva Reef is an amazing phenomenon. You really have to look up the coordinates on google earth to see where we are. The atoll is a doughnut shaped circle of coral with a lagoon inside. It is about 2.3 miles in diameter (about 6.5 miles around.) There is just a very pass at the western end of the circle that you can sail into. All around us the seas are 7,000 – 12,000 feet deep, but once you are in the lagoon, the depths are only about 50 to 60 feet with a sandy bottom that you can anchor in. At high tide the reef is completely under water. At low tide the reef emerges several feet above sea-level and you can take your dinghy over to the edge and walk on it. It is breathtaking. At low tide the reef is about 200 meters across as you walk from the lagoon side to the ocean side. Water from the ocean side continues to flow over the exposed reef even at low tide so as you walk you feel like you are walking on a horizontal waterfall. The water at the lagoon edge of the reef is turquoise blue and filled with fish.When we arrived our friends from Vera immediately hopped in their dinghy and came over for breakfast. We spent a few hours catching up on all that has happened to them (and us) since we last saw them. They were the ones who continued on to Minerva when we turned back to New Zealand 2.5 weeks ago – and on route they had their autopilot fail which made it a challenging trip. They have been here for 2 weeks already – a very long time to be at Minerva Reef, but amazingly enough they had their very good friends from Roxi here with them for several days – then just 2 nights here alone – and now we are together with them. The other two boats in the anchorage – “Key of D” and “Wombat ofÂ Sydney” made the sail with us from Opua this week – but arrived a whole day earlier than us. Mike from Wombat of Sydney plans to go night snorkeling and hopes to catch lobsters for us all to share tomorrow.
It was a beautiful day – sunny and pleasantly warm. Tonight we are planning to have dinner on the boat with Vera and then crash very early.
All in all a very successful and pleasant passage.
Minerva Reef: satellite photo