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Entering the water was necessary from the bow.
We were anchored in the lagoon at Middleton Reef (southern Coral Sea). Wally Muller had roped Coralita’s anchor to an antique ships anchor we’d placed on the sand in the lagoon ‘yesterday’.
Now it was time to check the anchor. I was joining deckhand Richard Weir for the inspection and would film it.
All dinghies were either out of the water or anchored on their own elsewhere. In other words, no rescue vessel available.
Coralita was swinging in a great arc in the very strong breeze. Easy to miss getting back aboard as a strong current was also running. No problems. All went well.
It was a cyclone called Colin. Stronger than the cyclone that had wrecked Darwin a few years before. This was 1975. The wreck of the Runic, (pictured above during a previous visit) nearby, was battered by the heavy seas with waves breaking over her – we saw from a distance.
Wally Muller in 1971; Wally Muller underwater with the ship wreck anchor which saved Coralita during a cyclone at Middleton Reef.
We made two visits to Lord Howe Island and Middleton Reef while aboard Coralita – and as fate would have it, a bad cyclone arrived at Middleton Reef on both occasions.
Captain Wally Muller was concerned and kept his cool. A Captain sets the mood for the rest to follow. A nervous skipper would be a bit of a worry.
Wally got us through some very difficult days – years later confessing that it would not have been a good outcome without our help.
Ron Taylor has good technical suggestions. He anchored his 15 foot aluminum dinghy a hundred meters away to provide a reference point as Coralita was predicted to drag anchor in the shallow sandy lagoon.
A deep water lagoon would allow extra anchor chain and a spring effect to be possible eliminating drag. This is not possible in the shallows of Middleton, therefore it’s not a safe anchorage for large boats in strong winds.
Pictured may be Runic (the 10,000 ton shipwreck of Middleton Reef) or, more likely one of the international long liner fishing boats aground out there.
There are many shipwrecks at Middleton Reef – a legacy from the era pre satellites when strong currents played havoc with old style navigation methods.
(Cyclones in the southern hemisphere – typhoon and hurricane above the equator. All the same things).
The southernmost Coral Sea boundary is south of Middleton Reef – Lord Howe Island misses being a part of The Coral Sea by less than 100 km.