We are three days out of Penrhyn and closing on Suwarrow, 28nm SW of our position. Suwarrow is a small coral atoll with very few motus and only one person in residence. It is the island where Tom Neal lived for 25 years alone; he wrote a book about his stay called ‘An Island to One’s Own.’ I wish I had a copy aboard but they don’t sell it on Kindle so I couldn’t download it in Penrhyn. It is also the favorite port-of-call of the legendary French sailor Bernhard Moitessier.
We are so close but unfortunately will not be able to enter the coral pass today as we would arrive at sunset and thus without adequate light to safely enter the 15ft deep pass. We will be heaving-to tonight in the lee of the island.
The past few days have been really pleasant sailing. We have had to motor-sail for most of it, but the calm conditions have made it really peaceful and restful. Even with me taking over the entire night shift I have been able to get adequate rest in the mornings. We have been filing our days with reading and trying to catch fish that were apparently all taken by the commercial tuna boats or something because we have yet to get a bite.
We stopped in Manihiki and watched a gorgeous sunrise over the atoll while hove-to a mile out but decided it was too rolly with the large swells and decided to sail on. The weather is also very unsettled so staying on a coral shelf is not a very prudent decision. Something was drawing me to the island though and I’m glad I was able to see it, if only from seaward.
I have played the weather forecast perfectly and we are sailing on a light breeze from the NNW. We are closing on the northern branch of the SPCZ (convergence/convection zone). The plan is to sail into the lee of Suwarrow and ride out the squalls tonight while hove-to. The strong SE trades will fill in with vengeance tomorrow morning and the plan is to hide in the lee of the atoll until we have enough light to enter the pass.
I expect the anchorage to be exposed to the three miles of fetch coming across the lagoon, but I read that there is good holding so we’ll double up the anchors again and ride it out. It should subside in a couple days and the longer-term forecast looks very pleasant from the east.
I am so excited about the diving in Suwarrow. I have heard amazing reports of very healthy coral and thousands of colorful fish. Be sure that I’ll be taking some epic GoPro footage to share when we reach Samoa in a couple weeks.
Alyssa is in good spirits and is very excited to be done with atolls after Suwarrow. We have not seen a grocery store in over two months. We are completely out of anything fresh or live. She is dreaming of salads, fresh produce, grocery stores, restaurants, cafes and civilization. Samoa will have all that and more and she can’t wait. In the meantime our current plan is to try and trade with another boat for some eggs or mayonnaise and anything fresh or green. Or bodies are screaming for more nutrients – in hindsight I think we should have bought that overpriced green superfood powder from the health store. Most boats are coming from Bora Bora so they should have some French goodies for us to trade and maybe something green.
I expect a very active squally night tonight while hove-to. Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and it will be pleasant….I just knocked on wood.
Cheers from Ellie and her Crew,
June 18, 2015
South Pacific Ocean
12 55 S
162 45 W