North Minerva is certainly an
unexpected and surreal place. After six days of nothing but ocean, with
the feeling that the boat is bobbing in the middle of the same disc of blue -
dark below, light above - we strained our eyes for evidence that we had
actually travelled some 800 miles.
How people ever found the place
before GPS I have no idea. Nothing at 2 miles, still just rollers at
1.5 miles. Then at a mile off the bizarre sight of masts of
boats at anchor in the middle of the ocean - a mirage in this
wettest of deserts. Only at half a mile could we make out the
breakers on the reef, just below sea level. Not a speck of actual land to
Cautiously following the reef along,
we struggled to see the only 150m break in it's length which would allow us into
the calm of the lagoon. The only chart of the reef dates from a survey by
Captain Denham RN in 1854, and doesn't correlate with the modern datum used by
GPS. But it was all we had, so we took faith in the Royal Navy's finest
and turned to where we thought the pass should be. After a few
nervous moments, we caught sight of the gap in the breakers, motored hard
against the current exiting the lagoon, and we were inside.
After cooking up the steak we'd been
saving for the occasion, we spent the night at anchor surrounded by about 20
other northward bound yachts also taking respite from the last
couple of days of 30 plus knots of wind. The waves we'd been pounding
through for a week spent their energy on the coral just a hundred yards to
windward, allowing us to get some proper sleep at last.
We woke yesterday to find that the
forecast had changed for the next few days, with the wind backing into the
North East. This means that we, and a good few other boats, are tackling
the final 270 miles to Tonga by beating straight into the wind. We are now
one day in, and are finding the going frustratingly slow - what would have taken
us 2 days, will now take four. But we're still in good spirits (apart from
when meals and cups of tea launch themselves across the galley), Kokamo is going
well. and we hope to arrive in Tonga on Wednesday morning.
On the stereo: the Ministry of
Sound 'Uncovered' compilation album - some cheeky, quirky covers of great
tunes to keep us happy.
PS. Last heard on
the General Election: Cameron and Clegg in talks, but perhaps we'll
learn more when I download emails. See, we are interested