Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chesterfield Reef and Cato Island

We have heard good reports about the Chesterfields, a collection of reefs west of New Caledonia. We were ready to leave Luganville on Monday November 7th, and the weather looked good for a dash to a stop on the reefs.

We got approval from the French officials. It wasn't easy to find who to ask. This address worked.

Service de la pêche et de l'environnement marin
Direction des affaires maritimes
Tél:  24.24.92

We sailed more or less in convoy with friends on 'Entice', a 43' cat, arriving on Friday 11th. Sailing with another boat makes it possible to take photos of each other.

Nimrod enjoying a kite run near Chesterfield Reef

Chesterfield Reef is a stunning place, miles from both NewCal and Australia. A few sandy cays, and millions of birds.

Brown booby

Brown booby

Hermit crab

Masked boobies

Masked boobies

Awkward teenaged booby

White-capped noddy with chick

Young Great Frigatebird

Karen from 'Entice', with George

Sundowner on Chesterfield Reef

We had a weather window for the trip between the Chesterfields and Bundaberg, broken by a front coming through. We managed to email a friend who had waypoints to anchor at a small Australian island called Cato, to wait out the front. It was a bit dodgy, but we pulled it off, anchoring at 2 am under a full moon.

More amazing bird life.

Immature brown booby

Red-footed boobies

As a result of pausing at Cato Island, we got a fair wind the next day from the South-east. After a struggle to raise the anchor, which got caught by some coral, we made a fast passage to Bundaberg, averaging 7.5 knots over 26 hours.