Our weather router told us to bypass Minerva Reef, a convenient stopping off point about a third of the way to New Zealand because he said some weather was blowing through there on Friday and we’d want to be well south of it beforehand. Unfortunately that meant we’d be hit with worse weather further south, a few days before landfall in New Zealand. We started off, and after a first 24 hours of big seas and strong winds we settled down to a day and a half of picture perfect sailing, steady wind on the beam, seas moderating, and we pushed the other concerns to the back of our mind.
Then on Tuesday afternoon our wind abandoned us. No problem, our weather guy told us we’d have to motor a bit and we’d been making good time so far. But EV does not motor very fast in this big Pacific swell. We motor on one engine for economy but our engines are small and don’t push us very fast. If we ran both engines we’d burn twice the fuel but only gain about a knot of speed. So for about 18 hours we slogged southwest, watching the waypoints and the predicted weather we expected to encounter and we weren’t liking it at all. The miles we’d banked during the good sailing were all but given up by the slow motoring.
Wednesday morning I ordered up new weather info via satphone, we looked at the chart, and got an email from Macushla that there were quite a few boats waiting out the coming trough at Minerva Reef. Well if they think it’s safe, we reasoned, then we’re going. We were about 30 miles east of the reef and we altered course west, with an ETA of about 2:30pm.
With the engine running we have hot water and we took luxurious warm showers. As we approached the reef we hailed on VHF and got the lay of the land from Oceanna and Saraoni and by a little after 2pm we had the anchor down at the North Minerva Reef Yacht Club.
This is one of those crazy places you can only visit by private yacht. It’s a circle of coral reef but no land. The pass is calm and wide and once inside the lagoon it’s like a lake with only the tiniest bit of swell pouring over the reef. I think part of the reef dries out at low tide and beckons for a walk but right now we’re tidying up the boat and ourselves, getting the salt washed off the decks and eating some lunch. We’ll have a good night’s sleep tonight and get the weather outlook from the other boats tomorrow.
Maybe Jack won’t be spending his birthday at sea after all!