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Old 06-11-2014, 20:31   #1
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Unmarked Reefs in South Paciifc

I am intending to cruise from Aus to Bay of Is NZ then on to Cook Is, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia next season.
I have heard there is an UNofficial list of unmarked reefs excisting.
At my last sail to Tonga and Fiji I was told about this but could not find out mush more.
Any IDEAS???
Anything thats not marked on the excisting BA charts would be great.
Cheers SY NJORDIC
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Old 06-11-2014, 22:25   #2
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

I dont know if Australia has an equivalent to the US Coast pilot books, but if so, see if you can find a really old one. I recently looked thru a 1950 Coast pilot for the Hawaiian Islands, and the outer islands and reefs were full of reports from a century ago about reefs or shallows, that could not be confirmed now. I suspect that a lot of trading schooners and fishing boats were manned by poor navigators or drunks that could not tell a school of Tuna from a shallow spot. I also have an old copy of( U.S.) SAILING DIRECTIONS FOR THE SOUTH PACIFIC. Much of the information is credited to reports and surveys from a hundred or more years ago. It is very informative, but many reported reefs or shallows are listed as POSITION UNCONFIRMED. I would not be so foolish as to say that there are not uncharted reefs (it is a huge ocean) , but I think much of the ideas are from very old, unconfirmed reports. Worry Less and sail more. ______Grant.
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Old 06-11-2014, 22:44   #3
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Watch out for Sandy Island somewhere in the vicinity of 19S, 160E
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Old 06-11-2014, 23:58   #4
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

With satellite observations of the entire world readily available to cartographers, it seems pretty unlikely that swarms of uncharted reefs exist today.

Back in the early 90s there were lists of alleged uncharted hazards circulating around the cruising fleet. I still have one somewhere... none of them were ever investigated or reported reliably, and I doubt the existence of many such.

Jim
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:46   #5
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Njordic View Post
I am intending to cruise from Aus to Bay of Is NZ then on to Cook Is, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia next season.
I have heard there is an UNofficial list of unmarked reefs excisting.
At my last sail to Tonga and Fiji I was told about this but could not find out mush more.
Any IDEAS???
Anything thats not marked on the excisting BA charts would be great.
Cheers SY NJORDIC
I know someone who hit this...

Moores Reef 15.52 South : 149.10 East

... he said it wasn't shown at some zoom levels on the electronic charts he was using
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:52   #6
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Like Jim Cate we also had a long list of uncharted reefs when we were cruising there. I agree that a lot of this stuff was probably bogus but there are areas that are making new ground as we speak. In the southern Tonga area there was one very shoal area that we picked up eye balling that was not marked on the charts so it still pays to keep an eye out in certain areas particularly when your inside atolls.
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:42   #7
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Ya know, robert sailor, I'm thinking as I read thread after thread that the So Pac is still very special, and has its chalenges: way out of date charts, to name one.

A.
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:54   #8
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

In areas of large tectonic activity some sea bed changes can be significant. There are active volcanoes near Tonga that cause reefs and even islands to appear and then disappear fairly often. That's not what these lists are about ( I think). They claim that there are significant and permanent shoals that somehow have escaped official notice for many years. I doubt that this is possible in these fairly well traveled waters.

However, if you are worried about these hazards, well, don't go there. Many of them lie between Tonga and Fiji, and they can be avoided by selecting your route carefully. I can say from personal experience that the passage can be made without ever seeing any of the reported phantom reefs.

Jim
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:21   #9
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Njordic.
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Old 07-11-2014, 09:39   #10
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

I would have thought that the various hydrographic institutes would take reports very seriously so that recent charts get updated. There are rumours...the guy who rammed into an uncharted reef during one of the round the world rallies. When we looked at where he was, the reef was easily seen on the chart.

However I still have one chart with "breakers seen" written on it and an even oler one saying "here be monsters".

Be Careful!
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:15   #11
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Comparing with old charts from 40 to 50 years ago. Most of the vigias are gone. But there are still are some around. One example is "Orne BK" 29 m reported 1874, about 330 miles south of Mangaia in the Cook Islands.
This breaker is still on the NZ raster chart for the area.
I think it's difficult to write this vigia off, without doing a survey on the spot.
It's to deep to trust satellites, I think. So who would pay for that in an area with very little traffic?

Thomas
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:54   #12
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

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Comparing with old charts from 40 to 50 years ago. Most of the vigias are gone. But there are still are some around. One example is "Orne BK" 29 m reported 1874, about 330 miles south of Mangaia in the Cook Islands.
This breaker is still on the NZ raster chart for the area.
I think it's difficult to write this vigia off, without doing a survey on the spot.
It's to deep to trust satellites, I think. So who would pay for that in an area with very little traffic?

Thomas
In the clear waters of the area considered in the OP, I would think that any reef shallow enough to strike in a cruising yacht would both show up in satellite photos and cause visible breakers in any but calm conditions.

So the risk to yotties is less actually running into such a vigia but rather being overwhelmed by unexpected breaking seas... and that's not nice either!
There is a fair amount of yacht traffic in the area and no reports of sightings or strandings seem to appear, so I believe that most of the hazards on the famous list are imaginary. We didn't see or hit any of them in our several transits of the area... FWIW!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 07-11-2014, 14:52   #13
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Have a look at a web-site, 'soggy paws'
Lots and lots of Excellent information, well written, links etc. re. South Pacific
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Old 07-11-2014, 15:12   #14
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Re: Unmarked reefs in South Paciifc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannius View Post
I know someone who hit this...

Moores Reef 15.52 South : 149.10 East

... he said it wasn't shown at some zoom levels on the electronic charts he was using
I can easily see this happening. My Raymarine has Navonics, and the "de clutter" function is deadly. I've seen numerous obstacles that disappear at about the 3 mile range.

I think that is what happened to Chichisters Gypsy Moth, they otter a route that looked ok but didn't confirm it on the 1 mile range and missed a reef.

Harder to do on raster charts.
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Old 07-11-2014, 17:43   #15
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Re: Unmarked Reefs in South Paciifc

This is the list I believe you are talking about:

Passage Dangers

When I plotted these on the chart on our SoPac passage in 2011 we changed our route quite considerably. Can't vouch for the accuracy of the info but I wasn't taking chances.

regards

Andrew
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