Passages, Places

Passage to Suwarrow, Cook Islands

On Monday, September 4 at 10:00 a.m., we pulled up anchor at Penhryn Island and headed across the lagoon to the pass, exiting closely behind Szel and Blue Beryl. We all put up our sails and headed to the island of Suwarrow, also part of the Cook Islands. Although we were officially checked out of the Cook Islands, we had permission to stop over in Suwarrow, which is a national park, with just two rangers living there.

As we started out, the seas were bumpy and the winds were in the mid-teens, sometimes higher. We were making good time but the winds were moving from our beam to aft of the beam, putting us on a broad reach. At around 4:00 p.m., we put a second reef in the main and furled the jib in a bit. Blue Beryl sailed passed us right then. It was a bump night and none of us slept much.

On Tuesday, September 5, the seas were still bumpy, with 2-2.5 meter waves, and the winds were getting lighter. By noon, we had made a 138-mile day. We took the second reef out and wind started letting us point more directly to Suwarrow. We could still see both of the other boats on AIS.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the winds stayed light all day, aft of the beam. I took the reef out during my watch on Wednesday morning, but we ended up motoring the rest of the way to Suwarrow.

We got to the anchorage a little after noon on Thursday. John Blair from Ballyhoo stopped by to say hello. We then put the dinghy in the water and went ashore to check in with the rangers. Harry and Tana (my spelling). The process was easy because of our check-out in Penrhyn. We gave them a six-pack of Sprite and a six-pack of Coca Cola. We had heard that they were craving it so we bought some when we were still in Tahiti. To thank me, she gave me a grass broom she had made.

We had dinner that night on Aldabra with Blue Beryl. It was nice to be anchored in flat water.

There were quite a few boats in the Suwarrow anchorage, and the rangers told us that they had been so busy checking boats in and out that they had not had time to do their ranger work. So on Friday, we went ashore with some of the other cruisers and helped clean up an area between the beach and the rangers’ house. Later that evening, the rangers hosted us for a potluck with all the other cruisers. We had fish that Alex had caught and coconut crab that the ranger had caught. Other people brought tasty food and it was a nice evening.

Grilling coconut crab

The rangers, Harry and Tana (my spelling)

Tom enjoying the beach party

Alex grilling fish

The group of cruisers at the beach party

The next day, Saturday, September 9, we mostly stayed on the boat. I helped Tom patch a hole in the dinghy. Linda and Alex worked on sorting through and upgrading our fishing gear.

On Sunday, we transferred some fuel from jerry cans to the diesel tank. I tried to clean the boat bottom, but it was so bad I only got the waterline. I baked a cake and later we went and swam with manta rays on a nearby reef. That night we celebrated Yvette’s birthday on Blue Beryl, with Szel and Aldabra.

Alex and Jamie posing with the pizza Alex made for Yvette’s birthday

On Monday, Alex brought over 30 gallons of diesel fuel, to get us to Tonga if we  had to motor much. Tom fixed the location of the boom bales to improve our reefing system. Several boats left the anchorage, heading to either Fiji or Tonga.

Aldabra and Blue Beryl were the last two boats to leave the Suwarrow anchorage

Even though we had not been in Suwarrow long enough to explore this paradise, the winds were threatening to keep us there for more than a week unless we left right away. So on Tuesday, we went ashore to say goodbye to the rangers.

Saying farewell to the rangers

After we said goodbye. Linda and I walked to the other side of their motu, which faced the pass. We watched as Szel went through and took a few pictures of the island.

Szel heading toward the exit of the pass

I then baked some bread and cooked some sausages and we pulled up anchor around 2:00 p.m. Szel had already left in the morning and Blue Beryl left right before we did.

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