Saturday, July 30, 2011

Big Day at Suwarrow Atoll

For the past two days, the wind has been blowing at a steady 20-25 knots and our weather reports shows the seas in excess of four meters. Several of the boats we know have been in transit from French Polynesia and we've been sympathizing with them over the single-sideband radio. It's been rough out there.

Yesterday our friends on Sudden Stops Necessary, a Beneteau 38.5, came in and anchored near us. Both Chet and Glenda (owner and crew, not a couple) seemed nonchalant about their crossing but they were very happy to be here. This morning on the VHF radio, I heard Songline calling Lardo and though they couldn't hear each other well, I could hear them both. They asked about the condition of the pass into the lagoon at Suwarrow (it was pretty good, despite the 25 knots of wind) and if they should get permission from the warden who lives here to enter (can't - they don't have a radio - come on in!). Lardo arrived first and anchored just off our starboard bow. Songline arrived about an hour later and proceed to motor around in circles, trying to find a placed they liked to drop their anchor ("You're making me dizzy!" I said to them). At the same time Songline was going around in circles, Periclees was trying to free their anchor chain from a coral head so they were going around in circles, too, except just off our starboard quarter. While all this was going on, Gigi arrived from their passage and started looking for a place to anchor as well. At first, they were standing by while Songline was making the decision but I guess they got tired of waiting and motored over to where we're anchored. I suggested that they go ahead of us to about 12' of water, drop their hook there and drop down on 60'-70' of chain - the only drawback would be if the wind clocked out of the west which is extremely unlikely to happen (these easterly Trade Winds are very persistent). They tried that but wound up too close to Sudden Stops Necessary so they pulled up their anchor and went searching elsewhere. Mean while, Periclees and Songline are still going around in circles. Angus from Periclees jumped in the water to see where his anchor chain was and swam over to us - "What's Songline doing?" he asked.

Gradually, we got everyone settled and yet still another boat enters the lagoon. This time it's Grommet, a large ketch that we've never seen before but several of the boats in the anchorage hail them on the radio and offer welcomes. There are now 18 boats in the anchorage - the most since we've been here. I kayaked over to Songline to shake their hands and welcome them. They talked of 20' seas that were steep and confused. On the other hand, they said, Jimmy Cornell says that it's always a rough passage to Suwarrow. Jimmy Cornell! We hadn't even thought of looking at his book before we left Bora Bora! He's the author of World Cruising Routes, kind of like a bible of when to go almost anywhere in the world on a small sailboat. Maybe it's a good thing we hadn't looked it up before we left - we might never have gone!

I finally got the battery equalization routine figured out (combination of a defective regulator and our battery bank being too large). Ruthie is in the middle of polishing all the stainless steel while Corie is putting a coat of wax in the deck and cabin top. I'm working on putting a coat of wax on the hull as after almost 5,000 miles it's looking pretty shabby. Our pace on our respective projects is relaxed, usually only for an hour or two each day. We're getting some negative feedback from some of the other boats in the anchorage as they now feel guilty for not doing the same thing. However, if we were to put it off much longer, the oxidation gets so bad that it takes twice as long to get the same results. It's easier to do it now plus this might be the most beautiful place in the world to wax a boat.

It looks like the winds might be decreasing around the middle of next week so we're thinking about leaving then for American Samoa - about 450 miles away. I think we'll all be ready to move on by then.

My very best to everyone.
At 7/31/2011 12:52 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 13°14.88'S 163°06.48'W

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  1. I got dizzy reading this. Better have a bloodymary ;)

  2. you guys are great. We read you blog lot. Wish we were there. Freya is in Mazatlan now.

    Send me an email when you can

    Cliff, Alisa, Britt and Carl.