Michael and Larissa Hoult
Michael and Larissa set off in their catamaran on August 7, 2019, from Bora Bora. Their destination was the Tongan island of Vava’u. The couple had only been in Bora Bora for two days before they set sail. This ship was dubbed, ROAM, and the couple spent a lot of time sailing around the Pacific. The Hoult family built the craft at their home in Tasmania, which is a large Australian island off the south coast of the mainland. Every sailing season since 2016, the adventure-loving couple sailed around the Pacific.
Michael and Larissa’s original plan was to stop off on the Vava’u Islands, before heading to their final destination in Fiji. By day five of their trip, on August 12th, they had a change of plans. They decided to sail straight to Figi without stopping. They changed plans because Larissa was scheduled to work on a nutrition project in Figi, and they didn’t have much time left before she had to be there.
On August 15th, the couple was heading toward their destination in Fiji, when they came across something incredible. Rather than looking at a clear blue sea ahead, they saw a beige rock that stretched all the way across the horizon. According to Michael, the stones were closing in on them, and they couldn’t see their trail or their wake. All they could see was the edge where it went back to regular water. It was nighttime, and the water looked shiny. Larissa says that the entire ocean was matte, and you couldn’t see the moon’s reflection in the water. She says that everything was eerie and unsettling.
The couple says that they were warned, via email, that there might be pumice fields ahead of them on the course that they were sailing. When they rounded north of Vava’u earlier in the day from Bora Bora, they say nothing. According to the couple, at position 18 50′ S 175 05′, they smell a faint odor of sulfur. As they sailed on, they started seeing floating rocks of all different sizes. Some were the size of marbles, and some were the size of tennis balls. Larissa says that the sea around ROAM was growing more freakish by the second.
Taking Down the Sail
As the couple continued their trip, their boat was striking larger floating rocks. Because of this, they took down the sail, allowing the boat to travel on bare poles at two to three knots. When they could no longer smell sulfur, they assumed that they would soon be clear of the rubble, but chose to continue at the slowest speed possible. Their assumption that they would soon be free of the rubble was wrong.
By 7 pm, the situation was completely out of control. The couple came upon a total rock rubble slick that was made up of pumice stones that were as small as marbles, and as big as basketballs. The waves were very calm, and the boat had slowed down to one knot. The couple turned on their spotlight, and the rubble slick went as far as they could see.
A Stone Sea
By this point, the couple was in the middle of a stone sea. They made a turn to starboard and were able to sail out of the rubble slick, but there was stone in all directions. The could see the edge of the water from the northeast, which was a very good sign.
Escaping the Rocky Sea
When the couple managed to escape the rocky sea, they were able to continue to Fiji. Fortunately, the rocks in the water didn’t cause any significant damage to their ship, so they were ready to sail safely. Both Larissa and Micheal say that it was the strangest experience they had ever had on the water.
Not The First Time
It turns out that this wasn’t the first time that this happened in these waters. The rocks appeared near Fiji in 1984, and again near Tonga in August 2006. The 2006 occurrence was dubbed, Home Reef, and it was witnessed by sailors aboard the yacht Maiken. One of the crew members wrote all about it, and it was very similar to Michael and Larissa’s experience.
The Great Barrier Reef
Scientists believe that this phenomenon plays an essential part in keeping the Great Barrier Reef fully stocked with a diversity of species. According to an expert who studied the pumice raft, the pumice rafts play a crucial role in ocean ecology. Brian and Larissa say that what they saw was absolutely incredible. While they were in the moment, it was a bit frightening, but it is something that most people will never get to see throughout their entire lives. The adventure-loving couple says it was their greatest adventure to date. When this couple were sailing through the Pacific, the sea mysteriously turned to stone, and it was incredible.