Our first stop along the Ribbon Reefs was long awaited. Officially the furthest north to date we had sailed to, we were quite excited. We had an easy but slow passage from Mackay Reef, with all sails out: Screecher, jib and main.
We did not break any speed record in 8 knots of wind but it was pleasant. We knew we were in the Cruisers Passage, between Ruby and Lena Reef, as the swell was rolling in. Soon after we anchored in 16 meters of water, a little deeper than we expected but on sand.
With only 5 knots of breeze we sent the drone up to survey the very long skinny reef. Here is how it looked.
After lunch it was time for a snorkel. We started at the edge in front of the boat then moved to a large bommie where we were welcome by the big fellows: large batfish and a beefy grey shark to start with. The reef was damaged and a little disappointing. We had big expectations after Mackay Reef, but the bleaching and rubble were evident. It was also the leeside of the reef, which can never compare with the windward side. What was also evident was the number of sharks! A few came rather close: mainly whitetips and blacktips. When you see one cruising along, it’s all cool. Two, okay, I can keep an eye on these, but half a dozen circling at close quarter, excited about something, may be not. Maree was saying before that she had not seen many sharks. This snorkel fixed that! And her reaction: “hooley dooly, I am out of here”.
Wadie had some fun and speared us a lovely trout which we had sashimi for dinner. The water was nice and clear and he looked good just under the surface with the reflections and marbling in the water.
During our second day at Lena, we did a few chores in the morning: making water, cleaning inside and out, then at low tide in the early afternoon, we thought we’d snorkel around a couple of large bommies we spotted with the drone a fair distance behind the boat.
Our hope was that it would be better than the reef edge. And it was! With greater depth all around, there were lots of fish often moving in schools, elegant crinoids in different colours along the edges, Christmas Tree Worms in the porite, sponges and tunicate colonies hugging the rocks, Black Sun Coral along the drop offs and in between cracks. It was varied and interesting.
We have now moved onto the next Ribbon Reefs, continuing our slow exploration. It is very hot, low 30s in the early morning and the water is warm! The wind picked up to 20 knots on the weekend, so we wanted to get a public mooring but they were taken at Ribbon Reef #3. We kept going a little further to # 5 and were comfortable there with plenty to keep us busy for a few days.
We are continuing to drop in and out of internet coverage, so we will post when we can.