What is an atoll and how is it formed? Every time I try to explain this I confuse others and myself. So I tried a different approach after our visit to Minerva Reef, which is an atoll.
Once I was an island. And I did things that Islands do. I relaxed in the Sun in the middle of the sea.
Sometimes there were strong winds. And shortly after I came into my volcanic existence the winds brought me birds. And the birds and sea currents brought me vegetation.
After a time I grew weary of the sea errodng my beaches and I decided to grow a reef of coral. It never dawned on me what would happen if I had a reef of coral. Coral is a living thing you see. And it will grow. And erosion will not stop it. I did not have this power.
Many thousands of years passed and erosion from the wind and rain slowly took its toll and I melted into the sea. Do not be sad. I was very old.
My reef that I loved so dearly carried on, as it should. I’m sure it thinks fondly of me sometimes. And now it has a new friend, The lagoon that has come to be in the space I once called my own. I hope they love each other and the sea for a very long time.
Atolls are magical places. Their story deserves telling in prose that is not clinical or scientific. I had a go.
Minerva is a republic. Human population is zero. The land mass above the sea is nothing more than a few rocks.
We passed by Minerva south in the dark of late morning and arrived at Minerva reef North about 9am. The reef was once a complete circle. But now in the NW margin there is a break in the reef. This is called a pass. It is 85 feet deep. This sort of depth is unusual for a pass. But WWII was an unusual time. At that time Minerva was made over into a harbor for ships of war. Which need a deep pass to accommodate their draft. Let’s just say dynamite was involved. In time the ships were taken away. And Minerva was once again a lovely atoll 300 miles south of Fiji. Now with a pass.
Pass matters. Now boats like ours can get into the lagoon. This affords us a tremendous amount of protection from the swells and waves of the southern ocean. It’s like a calm lake in the middle of an active sea. The lagoon is 3 miles across and we are alone here. Surrounded on all sides by waves breaking on the reef that cannot disturb the rest of Spill The Wine and her sleepy crew.
We went snorkeling on a shipwreck. Probably a WWII remnant. Whose demise has created a place for sealife to thrive. Shipwrecks in tropical waters are invariably bejeweled with a dizzying array of fish and chorals of many colors. The ships death creates a lively, cheerful, and beautiful seascape.
When the Tide is low one can walk on the reef. And we did. Kat and Roddy found 3 fat spiney lobsters. Who soon joined the crew of Spill The Wine on the Big Green Egg. Accompanied by a lamb foreleg.
In the morning we moved our boat to the reef pass. Snorkeling in a pass is usually great and we are not disappointed. Grant does a scuba dive.
While we were out the last lobsters pooped in the refrigerator. Bummer. Minor time out to do some clean up.
Finally depart at 2pm. 300 miles to Fiji. It’s getting warmer. The sea is now 75 degrees. The wind is weak. But we need to charge batteries and make water. Perfect timing. Motoring towards Fiji at 330 degrees. Kat makes cucumber salad and we dine on the last 2 lobsters.
Weather predictions are for wind behind us all the way to Fiji. So after dinner we rig the boat for downwind sailing. Pole the jib out to windward. And secure the main out to leeward.
No sooner do we have the sails arranged when we have a fish. A yellowfin tuna joins the crew of Spill The Wine. Let there be sushi! Roddy and Kat fillet the new crew member. I should tell you that this is not how we treat all new crew. Just the ones that are lobsters and fish.
Sails set, dinner over, and for dessert we have the Milky Way. Best star night yet. Late moon rising, and clear. It’s been a fantastic passage. Too soon it will end.