Our next stops along the Southern Great Barrier Reef and third post in the series is focused on Boult Reef. By now you know we love exploring. Boult Reef is new to us unlike the previous cays. It is also different because there is no island and few people go there. It is therefore good training in preparation for eventually going to the more remote Swain Reefs!
Boult is a reef with an enclosed lagoon. You have to get quite close before you see it. The first hint of a reef being there are the breaking waves in the distance. Once next to it you see the characteristic layers of colour: dark ultramarine in the deep water, a line of white breaking waves, the brown of the shallow reef, the stunning turquoise of the lagoon and then in the distance those same colours in reverse order. We’d hate to have been wandering around these parts before the navigation gear is what it is now! You can see how easily ships could get into strife.
Here is an aerial view of Boult Reef showing where we anchored.
When anchoring along a coral reef, you have to be prepared for some chop and current which means some movement. You really need a calm day as there is very little shelter, especially at high tide. You also anchor in deeper water than usual: 10 to 12 meters, which for us is a lot. You need to allow a full 360 swing and there is about 3 meters of tide between high and low water. On a cat and on a gentle day it is a really special experience to be out there in such a beautiful if a little exposed spot. What is not so special is when the night weather is 1800 from what you had during the day, the breeze picks up to 16 knots and you end up spending an unnerving and uncomfortable night rock and rolling, with your stern to the reef! With a light and variable forecast, you kind of have to expect this but in all honesty we had assumed it would be the same at night as during the day. Lesson learnt! Variable also stands for unpredictable – the wind can come from anywhere!
But the main reason for coming here is the snorkeling which is really impressive. We see larger fish in big schools, quite a thrill as you swim along. There is plenty to catch with a spear gun but since we have a freezer full of food, we just look! We see a few different types of harmless sharks like the Banded Wobbegong and the Blacktip Reef Shark, as well as the more habitual damselfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, although in more varied colours than before. You go up narrow canyon-like valleys in the reef where all sorts of fish congregate and it feels like you are swimming through a cloud of them. There are ledges that harbour some slightly off-putting beasties, like the very large Seven-gilled Shark (about 5m long, also known as Ground Shark because of its habit of lying on the sand). Once we spotted that one we slowly backed out of that particular valley!
Here is a selection of our favorite underwater shots.
For the feeling of being on a reef on our own surrounded by big fish, Boult Reef stands out as a special place. Next stop: our favorite Fitzroy Reef.
Here is the chart of the chain of reefs again so you can see our progress.