Because of the weather cycles and the length if the trip between Tonga and NZ, many boats making the passage first head to North Minerva Reef and then wait for the right window to complete the trip to NZ.
North Minerva is a circular reef approximately 2.5 miles around with one entry pass. It’s a volcano that never made it to the surface, but just a few tenths of feet below.
Eventually, the caldera collapsed forming a lagoon and a reef grew along its rim. Due to up-thrust of the earths’ crust, the reef has been pushed near enough to the water line enough to be exposed at low tide.
Some boats consider bypassing Minerva altogether to quicken their trip to NZ. We chose to visit.
When we arrived at North Minerva on Oct 29, some of the boats in the anchorage were following the advice of Gulf Harbor Radio and setting sail that day for NZ.
We needed to make a decision whether to go with this weather window or wait for the next one. A poll of the 13 boats in the anchorage indicated only 5 were lifting anchor.
Weather gribs seemed to indicate that the winds would be light during this ‘window’, requiring a great deal of motoring. A subsequent window seemed possible on November 1st.
These facts, coupled with our desire to explore this remote, expansive reef in ‘the middle of the middle of nowhere’ made us decide to wait.
We’re glad that we did.
We readied Amandla for arrival in NZ and enjoyed a sundowner on SV Kailani.
Our friends from SV Viandante gave us one of the large lobsters that they’d caught at 4:00 am while we were comfortably dreaming in our bunks.
And best of all, we spent three wonderful days visiting the pristine reef on foot and (The Captain) with snorkel. We explored on our own and with our friends Theodora and Hunor, the crew of SY Victoria.
North Minerva Reef is one of those places that makes traveling by sailboat so special because you can’t get their by commercial airline or cruise ship.
If you are sailing the South Pacific, make sure to visit North Minerva Reef. You’ll be glad you did!
Written At Sea – November 1, 2014