16:24.07S 179:52.39W

Wed 8 Aug 2018 20:43

16:24.07S 179:52.39W

Lightly Through Texas Pass

Much head scratching and many waypoint comparisons took place over the start of our track from Albert Bay on Rabi Island because a long reef stretched a few miles across the direction we needed to travel with very few passes through it. Tregoning led the way and we followed with me helming as usual but with need now to hold a tissue over my running nose, in this sense I was single-handed.

It was a cloudy day so no help would be forthcoming from the sun. As we had found before it is quite possible to see reefs without it but then every little natural help is welcome.

We were heading for Budd Reef with its promise of excellent snorkelling, located in the prettily named Ringgold Islands. We headed north east towards the narrow gap with its estimated 10 metres depth.  

Simultaneously we slowed right down on approach to the first of the three waypoints we would use to make the transit where the water is still a nice safe 45 metres deep, then softly softly catchee monkey we moved gently forward.

Rob was on the foredeck with a better view of any heads we might need to avoid while I was watching Tregoning’s wake, the passage of Zoonie along toward the next waypoint and the depth display. I didn’t quite hold my breath but the concentration was acute. 15 metres, 11 metres, 9 metres, 7 metres (hey that’s supposed to be the minimum after adding on Zoonie’s 2 metre draft), the adrenalling was running and I asked myself if I had left Tregoning enough room to abort and turn around if necessary. 5.1 metres showed on the display but Tregoning was carrying on. My trouble was I wasn’t sure if the echo would increase or decrease from here, still at barely 3 knots hopefully we would bounce off if needs be.

10 metres, 12 metres, then three dashes to say we were off soundings, in fact instantly we had 347 metres beneath us. Rob returned to the cockpit and we did a high five.

There was another reef passage on the other side of the Rabi Channel but it was straightforward and deep, unlike the anchorage. We hovered outside as Tregoning, with the cunning seabed display scanned the possible area for two boats. There were no other yachts there.

It didn’t look promising, coral over rock, and not wanting to risk dragging if the wind got up in the night, as it usually does, we decided on Plan B. Rob soon came up with the suggestion we moved on southwards to the tiny horse-shoe shaped Matagi Island (pron. Matangi) and relayed waypoints to Tregoning who would follow us.

Privately owned by Noel and Flo Douglas who run a boutique resort on the south of their perfect haven, they don’t mind visiting yachts anchoring in the pretty little bay on the north provided their permission is sought before landing ashore.

It proved cosy and comfortable with room for around four yachts so that is where we spent the next day.