Don’t be surprised, once again weather and choice of destination have presented another Kialoa opportunity.
Three-quarters of the way north from NZ to Samoa lie two reefs; South and North Minerva. Ownership is disputed by Fiji and Tonga, the reefs were reportedly “occupied” by the King of Tonga and a 4 piece band in the 70s. I like them already.
All awash at high tide there was once a tower (north reef I understand) erected to save shipwrecked seamen. Narrow entrances, but large lagoons, with the advent of the ubiquitous GPS system and increased chart accuracy, the north reef certainly has become a resting point on the trip south or north for Pacific cruisers.
Naturally (of course) the less popular south reef was more appealing. Timing and positioning were “serendipitous”: arrive about lunchtime, low tide (so you can see the reefs) and almost directly on course, one gybe and in.
Not really visible until you are within a couple of miles, all that shows of the spectacle shaped double atoll, at first, is a line of heavy white wash from the breaking SW swell. Impossible that the apparently thin, low line of reef could protect the lagoon, as we reached into the lee, the water calmed and the colours of the edge of the reef started to glow.
Admiralty Pacific Islands (Vol II) Pilot describes how the 90m NZ survey ship Monowai reported the entrance channel basically clear of obstructions. I love the Admiralty Pilots. Nevertheless we send Jamie up the rig (with a video camera) to guide us in.
Difficult to describe, there is a deep sense of calm (and satisfaction) as the anchor takes up, set in on the SE corner, near the cairn (and working nav light we discover). There is a heavy rumble from the pounding surf, but not a ripple makes it over the 1/2 mile of awash reef between us and the open ocean.
Still laughing at Kate trying to climb the steps in her flippers, having rushed to be the first, leaping in and seeing 3 sharks 15m below her in the perfectly clear, gin like water.
We’ll sleep well tonight.