A Stay at Middleton Reef

May 19 – 23, 2017

As I write this we’re sitting about 135 miles north of Lord Howe Island in a very cool place called Middleton Reef. Since it’s pretty much all underwater, the only sign of its presence are the long telltale crests of low breaking waves, dark patches in the water where the reef comes near the surface and a strip of bright aquamarine water we can see inside the reef. It’s too shallow to take Legacy in there, but we have a nice spot, an indent in the outer rim with enough reef around to be very protected in today’s easterly winds.

Aside from the natural surroundings are a few scattered rusting hulks of shipwrecks from times past (at least I hope that’s all in the past). It seems like this should be creepy, especially on a gray day like today, but in fact this feels like a very peaceful and good place. When the sun comes out in a couple of days (we hope), we’ll take the dinghy inside the reef to do some snorkeling.

Update from a few days later: In the end, neither of us felt inspired to get into the water at the north anchorage. There was an absence of fish life around our boat that unnerved me. How do I know this? I like to toss meat, bread and vegetable scraps into the water as I cook to see what appreciative recipients appear from under the boat. But here there were no appreciative recipients, and I watched the scraps drift away. I don’t know why we had no takers, but neither of us felt like finding out. It looked like we might actually stay in Middleton Reef and not snorkel. We did, however, rather enjoy some seabirds who visited our boat during the night, unafraid of people and nice company even if we had to clean up some poo in the morning.

Our final morning in Middleton drew sunny and calm; so we decided to check out the other anchorage just south of us called Herald Haven. We motored down a couple of miles and were able get a surprising distance into the reef. The sea at the entrance had been bumpy, but once inside we found ourselves protected by areas of reef around the entry. We’d enjoyed our previous anchorage, but this one was like a dream: clear turquoise water, white sand bottom, and a lot of choices as to where to drop the anchor! We weren’t in the tropics yet but it sure felt like it! This place was gorgeous!

With a wreck not far from our boat and lots of appealing looking reef, we decided that we’d finally get in the water. We tried to get to the wrecks but at low tide it was too shallow for comfort. We got as close as we dared, then, satisfied, went to find a nice spot to snorkel. We were enjoying the place we chose, with pretty coral and lots of beautiful fish, when we spotted one very undesirable fish, four or five feet long with lots of pointy bits. We stayed still and were relieved to watch it swim by, seemingly not to notice us. We were about to get back to our snorkeling when he decided to turn around and take a closer look at us–it seems we had been noticed after all. He came by and took a good look, assessing us. We don’t know what the results of that assessment were as we decided to immediately get out of the water–we’d seen enough!

Well, it would have been nice to snorkel longer, but we were satisfied. After showers we had some wine in the cockpit, enjoying these beautiful surroundings. Alas, we later found out a disadvantage to this spot in the beautiful blue water: it gets a rolly at high tide. This was OK for one night, but if we were staying any longer we’d be heading back to our first spot. Tomorrow, though, we planned to head on to New Caledonia. We went below to watch some TV, wondering if our birds from the other anchorage would find us tonight. –Cyndi  (As always, you can click to enlarge and scroll through any of the galleries above.)

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