Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Montgomery Reef

2nd October 2011
Raft Point
Leaving Raft Point

It was an early start from Raft Point. We had to be at the reef at or just before low tide. Being only 9NM away it wasn’t that hard to work out timing though we were catching the west flowing ebb which gave us 10 knots going through the gap just outside the anchorage at Raft Point. It is a nasty little area when the spring tide is at its most ferocious. The gaps between Raft Point, Steep Island and some big chunks of rock create swirling seething water currents that pick up The Doc and want to suck her towards the rocks. Leaving at 5am, the tide was in full flight and did its best to set us onto the fringing reef, but the 68hp Volvo thwarted its intent.
Montgomery Reef emerges from the ocean

Slowly the reef, which looks like a small continent on the chart, rose out of the water in the distance. It was a bit tricky navigation wise as you had to round a long sand spit and then head up a narrow channel between it and the reef. On first impressions the reef looks man made, smooth and rounded. A sea wall perhaps or a dyke. If it was a dyke though it had serious structural problems as in regular intervals water was gushing down the side in drain like torrents. Once into the narrow channel the water was a respectable 10 metres deep and we could take in the show. We anchored and I sat on the deck in the shade eating breakfast and watching as the waterfalls on each side of the boat emptied the contents of the pools laying on the flat topped reef.
The water falls off the flat topped reef
The Doc in the narrow channel inside the reef

Kokomo was with us and they launched their dinghy to check out suitable landing spots for a reef walk. They reported that the reef was in fact not rock as it looked from afar, but all coral. We clambered into our trusty dinghy and scrambled ashore. It was coral all right, crunchy and jagged under foot. We were ankle deep in water as the water rushed from the top of the reef towards the channel. We had hoped to see all kinds of sea life trapped in the rock pools, but none was evident.
Rob ankle deep on top of the reef

After a bit of a wander around and a short dinghy ride up the channel, where at least we saw some shy turtles we got back on board, pulled anchor and followed Kokomo back out and “home” to Raft Point. It was amazing to see this massive reef and water gushing down, but it wasn’t beautiful by any means. I am glad we hadn’t travelled any more than the 9 miles there and back. If we had have travelled say 40 miles to see the spectacle I would have been disappointed.

The water tumbles over the coral
A living reef

The most exciting part of the excursion was in fact the re-entry into the anchorage at Raft Point. As we had left Montgomery on a rising tide, we hit the narrow bit outside the anchorage at full spring tide flow. It churned and heaved and picked up The Doc and tried to suck her this time into some big gnarly rocks. No sooner had Rob said “Look at how the water is gushing around those rocks” We were suddenly way too close. We were moving sideways towards the torrent. Rob gunned the motor and we got out of there as quickly as we could. We should have guessed there was something going on in this spot as we saw Kokomo skidding sideways as if on ice. Karen caught our performance on video tape and the true picture came to life. The Doc was moving fast, very fast, but crabbing sideways. We were happy to be back and safely anchored.
We had thought of catching the next ebbing tide up the coast towards Sampson Inlet, but we were buggered. Enough excitement for one day, so we decided to stay put for another day to rest. We are yearning for a safe, secure and picturesque anchorage to put down anchor for a few days. We feel like we have been going, going , going. Always up anchor to the next spot. This isn’t cruising. It is sightseeing. We just want to stop for a while. We are not in a tour group. We can stop somewhere and take time to smell the roses. We had high hope for Red Cone Inlet, but the tides were too ferocious and it wasn’t that pretty. Maybe Sampson will be our rest bay.

Until next time

1 comment:

  1. Great adventure you guys, makes us think about coming back that way to sample the same.
    Glad you are enjoying our blogs and we will also be following your entries closly.
    We are still in Kuching, finding it hard to leave, hoping to head north in the next 2 weeks.
    If there is anything we can help with just drop us a line via our sailmail
    Jamie & Dawn