Beveridge Reef Teaming with Life - 2.-3.10.2013

Thu 3 Oct 2013 22:32
20:0.690S 167:46.646W
Beveridge Reef Teaming with Life

At the end of our third day, just with the last hours of light of the day, we entered the wide pass in the west of Beveridge Reef and anchored in a safe sandy spot close to it.
We made 455sm through the water (probably about 510 over ground, as we had a good current with for some of the time) in about 78 hours.
Not bad, considering all the weather changes we were faced with.
The forecasted trough came a day or two earlier than forecasted, and after a very calm pleasant sail on the first day and night, we started getting heavier and gusty winds, big rain clouds, one tremendous downpour with wind, which got absolutely everything in the cockpit soaking wet, and some lulls.
During the second night, the wind just stayed at the very maximum for the big asymmetrical spinnaker, but it did require the watch person to really watch all the time - no snoozing, or reading, or writing emails, or even watching a show... (very to the contrary of the first night). And the rather bumpy seas didn't make it easy for the rest to get some good sleep.
Well, except for Susie, as this seems to have a cradle effect on her!

During some lulls, we feared we wouldn't get to the reef during daylight on the fourth day. Which would have been a problem, as the chart is about 5 miles off!
Fortunately, we started seeing the breaking waves - in the middle of the ocean, pretty cool - at about 14hrs.
When we were motoring around the Southern part of the reef (it is about 3 miles long) to find the passage on the west side, we saw a Wahoo jumping behind the boat, trying to get the lures on our 3 handlines. We have been so frustrated not having caught any fish for months, that we now are always putting our three strong handlines. However, during this passage, we had lost a lure for the fourth time! There must be quite some big fish in the South Pacific, that just bite through the strong 200lb monofilament. We hadn't lost any lure for during all the time in the Caribbean and Pacific Central America.
But we had heard there's a lot of fish around this reef and had our hopes up high.
Unfortunately, though, that Wahoo (or maybe it was a school of them?) took all our three lures! Just bit right through them! Turned out that that was only the beginning. During the next busy and exciting hours motoring around the reef, Michael was busy replacing lures - and then finally also reeling in fish.
We caught 2 good sized yellow fin tunas, 1 jobfish, 1 beautiful big red snapper (which we let go due to possibility of ciguatera) and 3 jacks (which we also let go as they are not very great eating).
In total, we have lost 8 lures! So our three fish turn out to be a bit expensive. But they will feed us easily for 9 meals.
To top things up, coming into the pass, a whale was greeting us with his pectoral fin waving - what a beautiful place!
When cleaning the fish, the blood attracted lots of grey reef sharks (which seem a bit more aggressive then the more petful black tip reef sharks I got accustomed to in the Tuamotus) and big snappers, checking out the leftovers.

After a great dinner we all had a well needed restful night of sleep.
It's still somewhat cloudy, but warm and now around noon, the sun is carefully peaking out, so we'll explore the pass with the dingy and hopefully see some whales and lots of fish and sharks!

PS: We had an amazing time snorkeling outside the leeward reef and in the pass. Some canyons are just teaming with fish. I've never seen so many big snappers and groupers, and little schools of small barracudas, jacks, trumpet fish, angel fish - just lots of everything. And sharks. I was quite happy that my job is to tow/hang on to the dinghy when we do a drift snorkel - just the possibility of getting out of the water within a second is very comforting. Especially when Michael tried to feed the huge curious grouper with the bits and pieces from yesterday's tuna.
The grouper didn't get it, but a smaller jack found some bits and pieces - and that must have been a sign for all the others, cause suddenly all kind of fish where everywhere, trying to get their share - and about 8 grey reef sharks. It's nice to see them from the distance. But when they are moving fast and so close, it is rather intimidating. Susie was in the dinghy in now time, and I held it very closely to me, too amazed by their grace and agility.
It was so amazing, we did three more drifts from the pass to those canyons. Michael even speared a kind of grouper. I came running towards him with the dinghy, and the flapping fish was out of the water before the sharks got too close.
We're gonna move anchor to the east side of the reef to check out that side.
Fortunately, it's gotten a bit sunnier, and we're very grateful for its warming rays.

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