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Un-Charted Sandy Banks in Coral Sea

By Sue Richards last modified Apr 04, 2009 04:34 PM

Published: 2009-04-04 16:34:24
Topics: Messageboards
Countries: Vanuatu , Australia , New Caledonia

There seem to be some banks just east of Chesterfield Reef that do not show up on any large scale charts. We sailed straight over them last year and were then horrified to see when we reached land that Google Earth shows some genuine reefs in the area 159 degrees 56 min E, 19 degrees 07 min to 21 min S.

A little research shows us that all electronic charts that we have looked at show an isolated blob on very small scale, but ocean of 2km depth as soon as you zoom in. All of the paper charts on our vessel show nothing less than 2km of water. This is close to a rum line north of New Caledonia (say from northern Vanuatu to Southern Queensland) and if there really are some shoals in the area, I am surprised that we have heard no more about them. No other cruisers that we talk to seem to be aware of these banks at all. I am interested in other people's experiences, or lack thereof.

Dave Hutchison
SV Harmonica

That area is a badly charted one, but I doubt that there is any real danger to yachts... the problem is that more and more sailors use Google Earth charts which are hardly meant for navigation on the high seas... and most certainly not in such difficult areas as the one mentioned!


Our electronic charts show a large piece of "dry land" in the location you mentioned, however our large scale paper charts do not.
Matthew O'Donoghue
SV Defiant

The shallow patch east of Chesterfield Reefs is a sea mount. We have sailed over it on two occasions on our way in to the Chesterfield Reefs. It is sea mount and probably 2km below the surface.
SV Subzero