Best days at the Outer Reef

We have had our best days at the Outer Reef yet! And do you know why? Because it has been totally calm: less than 10 knots breeze, crystal clear water with great visibility, no struggling with current and waves, comfortable anchorages.

It has also been nice to be anchored next to a coral cay: even though these are only a couple of meters above sea level, they provide added shelter. It is nice to go ashore, including taking Bengie for a walk, and get a different perspective. And it is a good spot to clean the speared fish Wade has been catching! And fly the drone!

Spotted Sweetlip for dinner tonight!

The graduations of colours are unbelievable, so vibrant! For those who think those colours are fake, with too much deep blue and turquoise, think again! The camera does not lie, this is what it looks like with the naked eye.

So without further ado, here are some photos from the two coral cays and reefs we have spent time at: Undine Reef and Mackay Reef.

Undine Reef

We were by ourselves there anchored in 10m of water over sand. Although the snorkeling was not startling, the water was clear and warm. We got the drone out and played. Here are some shots taken with the Mavic Air.

Undine Cay
Anui from the air!

And some underwater images of course! Click on the first image to display in full screen and see the name of the species.

Mackay Reef

Just 4 miles further north, we could see the Mackay Reef sand cay from Undine! There are plenty of spots to anchor in 10 meters over sand, and two public moorings. We hooked onto one of them!

Ready for action!

What a difference in marine life there. Much more abundant and varied. We liked it so much that we stayed for three days, exploring different areas of the reef and of course going ashore for a leg stretch with Bengie and drone flying practice.

Here is a gallery of our favourite underwater shots. A few of the images were taken on our last day at Mackay Reef, when we went to the reef wall drop-off. We dived much deeper along the wall to capture feathered stars, gorgonian fans and anemonefish. This was outstanding.

With a strong SE wind forecast to return for the next few days, we are sailing back to Low Isles as we post this, to take shelter there. We hear it is another beautiful place to explore. So more on this in a future post.

26 thoughts on “Best days at the Outer Reef

  1. I love that shot of Wade with the stick, is that his Aquaman pose. lol
    the photos are incredible, and love seeing having fun with the drone.

    • Thanks Leanne. Yes the Aquaman just picked up the mooring! I am having fun with the drone but finding you need calm conditions for control and best effect with the photos which we had for the first time in many weeks. Aren’t the colours amazing?! I am learning to land the beast manually rather than rely on the ‘return home’ button as I would like to eventually have it take off and land on the boat. But with the rigging, it is not as easy as it looks! More practice needed!

  2. Wow! It’s always a treat to see you guys in my Inbox! The photos are always incredibly beautiful. See ya soon. 😎

    • This is where you two want to come next year. We will be getting north quickly so we can spend more time exploring at the reef and along the coast. It is the best we have seen to date.

  3. Glad to hear you have finally got some calm weather out there! You are far more tolerant of 15-20 knots than we are. Like you, love the sand cays. But no drone here … until our son visits late Sep.

    • We have had to be tolerant otherwise we would not have been at the reef until now. But what a difference when you enjoy 5-8 knots in sunshine and flat sea!

  4. Lovely pictures of the reef and their inhabitants! That ocean looks flat with no wind. 🙂

    • Yes hardly any breeze, HJ, for the first time in weeks! Having spent so much time at the reef in stronger conditions, it makes us really appreciate calm days!

  5. The fish are wonderful. I am amazed you are not seeing more bleaching, maybe it is much further north and not on the outer reef. I like that you are practicing with the drone. The shots give a different perspective, colour great.

    • Hi Sue! We are too. There is some cyclone damage, and some areas of rubble and colourless coral, which may have been bleached in the past and not recovered. We are told by marine biologists that when bleaching occurs from extreme heat lasting only a few days, the coral does not die and can recover with time, but if the heat lasts for weeks, it may die. Some coral is in recovery mode. We haven’t seen any new bleaching, but then it is winter here.
      Having fun with the drone. Lots of practice needed, which is not always easy, but getting more comfortable.

  6. Stunning photos Chris! And you guys have been blessed with such idyllic conditions!

    • Hi Elgar… the best conditions of this season! We normally go out in stronger wind than ideal just to see the reef and dive, but when you get a few days of light variable breeze you realise what you were missing! Back to blowy days now…

    • Hi Mike, yes the fish, the corals, the anemones are all an amazing show of colour. You can see why we are so hooked on spending time at the reef whenever we can!

      • I can definitely see why you enjoy the reef time, though you do present a pretty balanced picture of the challenges that you face in your chosen lifestyle. 🙂

      • We try, as many people comment that ‘we are leaving the dream’ and we are a lot of the time… but the lows are low!

  7. Interesting and beautiful post as always. This is like heaven on the earth.
    I will thank you one day for giving me the inspiration to visit such a great location. One day soon, I will come to Australia! 😀

    • Hi Dante, we are pleased to provide the inspiration! Once you see the splendour, you can’t help but want to return again and again… and do what you can to help protect it.

  8. Chris your photos are amazing!!! And as always…yours, Wade’s & Bengi’s onboard (& at times offboard) life…is enviable. Great to hear the great, but also, the sometimes frustrating aspects of living aboard. Just back from our sail south from Hamilton Is on a Moody 53’ as a training passage & Sydney is freezing, wet & busy. Would love to be up north again. Thanks so much again for sharing your stories & photos.

    • Hi Lindy – thanks so much for saying hello! It will be you and Phil soon! And yes the full time cruising life is not always paradise but we enjoy it and can’t see ourselves returning to land life any time soon.

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