Passagemaking again

24 hour run: about 150 nautical miles
distance to go: about 550
15 kt SE winds, 3 m SW swell with a NE cross swell
position linked from Winlink or YOTREPS (links at right)

Since making our first landfall in South Pacific islands in April, our passages between island groups have taken place at roughly one month intervals: in May, from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus; in June, from the Tuamotus to the Society Islands.

Now, in July, we've taken leave of French Polynesia altogether. The last two months, our crossings were uneventful journeys of two or three nights each. This time, it should only be four nights, but going to a new country and at the same time getting progressively remote from makes it feel like a more significant transition.

Our destination, Suwarrow island, is one of the atolls making up the northern Cook Islands. It's the only one of the northern Cooks which can be visited by a sailing boat, the other atolls lacking entry passes. The country is culturally and linguistically Polynesian. We won't have much exposure to it as this is our only stop in the Cooks, and it has a part-time population of 1. A national park, the sole resident is a caretaker who lives there during the 8 months of non-cyclone season. New caretakers take over every year or so: last year, it included a young family- a delight we'd welcome but don't expect.

A few other boats are headed this way- to Tonga via the northern islands instead of the southern group- after reports of strict NZ customs inspections (the Cooks are a New Zealand protectorate) at the official ports of entry in the south. All produce and meat not marked as originating in New Zealand was confiscated. We don't have deep enough stores, but this is meaningful for the boats with freezers who provisioned to get to New Zealand!

Our interest in this route is a combination of opportunity, reputation, and practicality. Suwarrow gained notoriety after a man who wrote about his experiences living there, a semi-hermit, in "An Island to Oneself." There's really no other way to reach it besides the way we are, by a small private boat. We've also been looking forward to visiting this remote island after the raves from friends of ours who stopped here previously. Following the busy month spent between Tahiti and Bora Bora, we're looking forward to a slower pace too. From a practical standpoint, with an end destination of Australia this year, we wanted to hasten through this portion of our path to ensure we have time later: it's not wise to be pressed for distance when cyclone season looms. The weather also looked more appealing along the northern route, although conditions are fickle.

The sun is up on our second day out: children eating a hearty breakfast, fishing lines out, books to be read or listened to… we happily slide into our passagemaking routine.

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No internet access, posting via HF radio

2 Responses to Passagemaking again

  1. Vicki July 24, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    WOW! I looked it up online and it looks AMAZING! so excited for you guys….living the dream 🙂

  2. ellen July 28, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    Have a great stay! I loved the piece on Women and Cruising- great stuff! You guys continue to inspire!

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