Two Australians sailing the Pacific Ocean with their catamaran found a lost, floating island but without all the greenery, the sloping mountain forms, and the white-sand beach by the shore.
The so-called “island” is made out of pumicite, a type of volcanic rock that is light in color and has a rough texture, and it is drifting towards Australia. It is believed to be formed after an underwater volcano near the Tonga island erupted, forming a giant raft of pumice rocks.
The pumice island is so big that it is said to be approximately the same size as the city of Manhattan, New York with its 150-square-kilometer size that can fit up to 20,000 football fields and its movement is just so unstoppable given its sheer size that the catamaran the two Australian couples were sailing had to change speed and direction to prevent collision and a Titanic moment between the two.
|Pumice rafts on the Pacific near Tonga / Photo by: Screenshot by Oddily Central|
“We entered a total rock rubble slick made up of pumice stones from marble to basketball size,” Michael Hoult and Larissa Brill said in a Facebook post about their giant encounter. “The waves were knocked back to almost calm and the boat was slowed to 1 knot. The rubble slick went as far as we could see in the moonlight and with our spotlight.”
At one point, the catamaran was stopped from its tracks by rocks jamming the rudders and hull, which is not a good sign considering the situation they are in at that moment, but they eventually cleared the steering and went back to alert all incoming boats.
Hoult and Brill weren’t the only ones who encountered the pumice island. There was another couple sailing their yacht when they went through the giant rock, describing the collision’s sound as something like “a cement mixer” with a lot of “grinding.”
|Pumice rocks on a boat / Photo by: Screenshot by Oddily Central|
“We sailed through a pumice field for 6–8 hours, much of the time there was no visible water,” Shannon Lenz said. “It was like ploughing through a field. We figured the pumice was at least six inches thick.”
Amidst the encounters, experts are hoping that with the presence of the pumice island near Australia, the Great Barrier Reef may be restored.
“Based on past pumice raft events we have studied over the last 20 years, it’s going to bring new healthy corals and other reef dwellers to the Great Barrier Reef,” geologist Scott Bryan said. “It’s the right timing. So it will be able to pick up corals and other reef-building organisms, and then bring them into the Great Barrier Reef.”
|Sailors and witnesses Tom Whitehead and Shannon Linz / Photo by: Screenshot by BBC and Youtube via Oddily Central|