Sunday, August 21, 2011

Enroute to Suwarrow - Day 5 & Arrival

As of 0800 local August 20
Miles today: 125 Total Miles Behind Us: 628
Miles to go: 0
Wind ESE at 15 kt Large Southerly Swell

We came in the pass at Suwarrow at 0800 this morning. We spent the night lollygagging around trying to sail comfortably without arriving too soon. It really is hard in decent winds to slow down. If you pull in too much sail, the boat rolls uncomfortably. So it is always a challenge to slow down. But we managed to jog along at about 4 knots for most of the night, with teh wind a little aft of the beam.

We originally thought we'd go around the south side of the atoll and hang out on the 'back side' for the night. But the winds picked up later than forecast, so we would have arrived at the south end of the atoll too late. And, on more thought, it would mean we'd have to be very vigilant on watch because of our proximity to the reef. So we changed our plan at midnight, and decided to reach up on the east side, a comfortable 10 miles east of the reef, and gybe at around 5am and reach back for the pass. This meant we had to take the spinnaker pole down (15' long and 4" in diameter) in the middle of the night. But with a moon and reasonable conditions, it was no big deal.

Dave hates to handle the pole at sea--we normally set it before we go out into the ocean, and wait to take it down until we arrive. But we did need to get it down. And with our big pole, one end is permanently affixed to the mast. So the 'pole dance' isn't a real big thing. Dave handled the controls at the mast and I handled the outboard end of the pole--assisted with the foreguy and afterguy. We bring it down until the pole end is at the lifeline, attach it to the lifeline to stabilize things, and then get the topping life, foreguy, and afterguy all sorted out. Our pole stores on the mast, so once all the lines are detached, Dave hauls up on the pole and I attached it to the ring on the mast. Simple (in 15 kts and 5' seas).

We had a good set of waypoints for the pass, and though it was a little early for 'good light' the reefy points we needed to avoid in the pass were all breaking, so easy to see. I would have hung out for another hour, but Dave wanted to go in.

By the time we got the mainsail down and went into the anchorage, the sun was up a little higher and we could easily see the bad spots around the anchorage.

Our anchoring was much facilitate by the fact that about 5 boats pulled out this morning, leaving some nice gaps for anchoring. A few weeks ago the boat population peaked at 29 boats. We now have only 11 boat, including us.

We anchored once in deep water (55'), but once we learned that a couple of catamarans were leaving that were closer in to the island (and therefore better protected from the 20+ knots forecast for tomorrow), we pulled our anchor and moved closer in to take their spot.

The Rangers in their nicely accented (Australia/NZ) Cook Islands accent, came on at 0830 with a short VHF net. They said goodbye to the boats leaving and welcome to the boats leaving. They told us to come in when we were rested to do the formalities (clear into the Cook Islands). Can't wait to meet them!

Passage Statistics, Anchorage to Anchorage
628 miles
5 days
Avg speed: 5.2 knots
Eng hrs: 21.5
Sherry & Dave
On our way from French Polynesia toward Tonga

At 8/21/2011 12:01 AM (utc) our position was 13°14.87'S 163°06.47'W

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