Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cook Islands to Tonga - Random News on Day 4

Our paw-paws are going mushy. Paw-paws, otherwise known as papayas in the Cook Islands, were gifted to us back in Rarotonga, 400 miles ago, by our local friends Ron and Gina who grow them in their yard. So far, I've made two large pickle-sized jars of paw-paw chutney, and I'll make some paw-paw jam. I've cut up nearly 8 of them to freeze for smoothies, and yet I still have more. The back of the boat is covering with paw-paw slop as they went soft - we've had them hanging in a fruit hammock but have had to bring them all in. We are open to suggestions for paw-paw recipes.

These 400 miles started out relatively pleasantly until about 18 hours ago. The winds picked up a great deal, clocking around from SW to NW with 25-28 knots of sustained winds right on our nose with confused seas and waves up to about 15 feet. A squall came through about 6 a.m., 18 miles wide, when we saw sustained winds of 35 knots for a period, and gusts up to 45 knots. Needless to say, it's been quite uncomfortable and the kids and I are feeling the effects of seasickness (Michael never gets seasick, but given that he hasn't slept much, he's not feeling too energetic either). We have been sailing with a triple reefed main sail and our jib was nearly completely furled in, and still it's been a bumpy ride. We just pulled out our jib and shaken out a reef now that the winds are down again to 12-15 knots and the seas have calmed down somewhat, but it looks like we may have lost our window to stop at Beveridge Reef. Beveridge Reef, officially part of Niue (pronounced New-ee) but really in the middle of nowhere, is completely submerged and surrounded by depths of about 13,000 feet. However, with our smaller sails we slowed right down and now may not have the time to experience it. Such is the itinerary of a sailor. We are doing our best to have made landfall in Tonga by August 23, Danielle's birthday, as she is very averse to being underway for her birthday. Plus we loose a day by crossing the international date line.

We received news yesterday from our daily Single Sideband radio net check-in that s/v Riri was lost in the Cook Islands at Palmerston Atoll the day before when the mooring ball they were tied to broke loose and landed the boat on a reef with four large gaping holes in its hull. The crew are all fine and they have managed to salvage much of their equipment but the boat itself is lost. This type of incident sends shock waves through the South Pacific cruising community, as one can imagine. It reminds us that anything can happen at any time, and that we must always be vigilant - even when relying on mechanisms like a mooring ball that are supposed to be permanent fixtures. Who knows if Riri had backed down on the mooring ball once tied to it as one is supposed to do to ensure it will hold in high winds; and who knows if they kept an anchor alarm on at all times to detect abnormal boat movement. These two actions are always recommended for moorings as well as anchorages, but even if Riri had checked them off, it's possible the episode occurred while they were off the boat and wouldn't have heard the alarm. We're waiting to get more information.

Be sure to download the August 2011 edition of Latitude 38 magazine (the monthly magazine and not the weekly electronic version 'Lectronic Latitude). It contains pictures of the Tahiti-Moorea Rendez-Vous, Danielle on our boat, Michael and his outrigger canoe team, and details of the canoe race upset. In addition there is a beautiful shot of s/v Piko (our good friends) and a great article about our friends Amanda and Krister on s/v Britannia. We'd love it if someone in the Bay Area could pick up a hard copy or two from West Marine for us too.

Finally, it's official. Our boat is up for sale. We had For Sale signs printed up in Rarotonga and affixed them to our boat just as we pulled out of the harbor. Too bad there's not much traffic out here in the middle of the ocean! Our plan is to sell the boat, hopefully before even reaching Australia, do some land touring of Oz and fly home at the end of December to have the kids begin school after the holidays.

Next blog post: Our Raro friends.

At 8/18/2011 11:47 (utc) our position was 20°24.48'S 166°25.34'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:


  1. It must be bittersweet to be selling the boat - your home for the past year. Although it will be a very busy time for you, you'll have to continue this blog for a little while after you come home to keep us informed about your transition to regular life.
    Continue to enjoy your adventures. My life is only slightly less glamourous as I wait for the boys to come home from camp and the piles of laundry they bring with them!
    P.S. Happy B-day to Danielle!

  2. Enjoyed reading your post. Your descriptions are so vivid - I can empathize each event with you. They have become a natural way of life for you - and still there remains several months ahead. It's hard to concentrate on the present when the end is in view - but many more exciting things are ahead. We're especially looking forward to being with you all to continue your sail.
    Continue being vigilant in your travels and save some paw-paws for us...