HEADING TO SUWARROW

Another wonderful sailing day and night.  We have the wind on our beam and are being pushed along nicely at six knots towards Suwarrow.  Its almost too good to be true, this is the first constant weather we have experienced since departing from Honolulu.  The wind went light for a couple of hours in the early morning but we managed to keep sailing until it picked up again.

Last night we caught a couple of fish.  I don’t know what type of fish they were.  They didn’t look appetising, long slender things with very large eyes.  I suspect because of the big eyes they are night time feeders – anyway, they went back over the side.  We are looking for dolphin fish, we know they taste good.

Last night we had a new take on Thai Chick Pea Curry – concocted by Jessica.  A slightly unconventional dish that tasted excellent.  Despite our pledging not to – we made rice.  Cleaning up was easy really and I suppose we can’t live without rice.

I got a bit bored this afternoon and started rooting around the lockers under the salon settee.  Happily, I came up with six tins of fruit salad that I had completely forgotten about.  Now I know how the squirrel feels when he finds a new stash of nuts.

We have spent the day just relaxing and enjoying the perfect sailing conditions.  Snacking, playing guitar, playing cards, watching movies, reading books.  Nice to catch up on simple activities.  I have not heard any news since leaving Hawaii, I don’t even know who won the Tour de France.  It doesn’t matter at the moment.

As we have missed out our stop at Penrhyn we don’t have clearance into Suwarrow.  I have asked Ngozi to ask the Cook Customs to grant us a clearance on arrival.  Hopefully that will come through before we arrive.

The advance weather forecast for our arrival at Suwarrow does not look too flash.  There is a bit of difference between forecasts, one has twenty knot winds the other 35 knot winds.  We will monitor it daily as we get closer and hope it dissipates before we arrive.  Total voyage distance 270 miles.

A DAY OUT ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

This morning we had a run ashore, in fact by the time we had ourselves ready it was almost lunchtime.  The wind and waves at the anchorage are too much for the small rubber duck so we had to launch the pig which has been languishing on the foredeck for months undisturbed.

This is Jessica’s first experience with the pig and she seemed to take my warnings to be careful a bit too lightly.  Together, we could just manage to lift the pig and sling it over the side.  The best way to launch even if it does mean there will be a bit of water to bail out.

The trip ashore was very wet, the twenty knot trade winds coming uninterrupted across the lagoon whip up a small sea.  Luckily the water is warm and its no hardship.

When we arrived at the dock a surprising event occurred.  I asked Jessica to hop onto the dock first.  As she proceeded to alight she performed an uncoordinated pirouette followed by a squeal, some small boat gymnastics (that I have only seen surpassed by her mother) and then a large splash.  I found myself sitting bin a boat full of water and quickly rescued the valuables and myself to the safety of the wharf.  From the wharf, I looked down at a boat full of water and Jessica clinging to the side.  Quite how this happened I am a loss to explain.  Anyway, based on the you caused it – you fix it philosophy, Jessica started bailing.

Just then a guy called Rab, wearing a NZ Rugby Sevens shirt turns up and we get chatting.  He tells me a few interesting things about the Island, where to get cold beer and offers to find us some fresh local fruit on Sunday.  He also gives us a large papaya that he happens to have in his truck.  Then he offers to fill our diesel jerry can and bring it back for us.  Wonderful.

By this time Jessica has clambered out of the water and is now complaining about jelly fish stings.  We set off into town – as Rab says you can’t get lost.  The main street has tarmac between the pot holes, soft tarmac that squashes as you walk on it.  We visited most of the shops in town and bought a little something at each one.   Finally, I found full crème powdered milk – no non-fat rubbish for these people, they understand the value of full fat.

After the shopping, we headed towards some loud music and found the Lady Wheel Bar.  I drank an almost cold Heineken and Jess had a warm coke.  I wondered why they needed chicken wire over the bar – reminded me of the Blues Brothers film.

When leaving Truce at an exposed anchorage I can never really relax ashore so we headed back out for another soaking in the pig.  Boarding Truce in the seas was a bruising affair – I now have bruises on bruises.  Jessica has had her first experience with the pig – now she understands its malevolent attitude if not treated with the utmost respect.

There are no other cruising boats here.  Not many boats come here, the customs man reckons there have been ten in total for 2017.  I suppose the lack of a protected anchorage is a big drawback, although catamarans could easily assess the protected lagoon by the town which would be perfect.  There is a weekly flight here now from Fiji and Honolulu, tourism is being developed – I would say they have a long way to go but the potential is there.

I was thinking about all the remote places I have been and think Christmas Island must be the remotest I have been to in terms of distance from major cities.  The people we have met here are all very genuinely friendly and helpful.

INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ) TRANSIT

Another day of slow but steady progress.  So far, we have been fortunate with the weather in the ITCZ and have even managed to make ground to the east.  We are now positioned to the east and upwind of Christmas Island.  Hopefully, that will put us in a good safe upwind position for the final run in.

Sailing in this place is a challenge.  Constantly shifting and variable winds mean that each mile gained is earned.

A couple of dolphins came to visit today, they stayed about thirty minutes.  I am not sure what type they were, both were quite small and seemed to stay under water for longer than normal before coming up for air.  They obviously enjoyed our company as we did theirs.

This evening I took a rum and coke for sundowners.  Then realised we hadn’t bought any limes or lemons before departing Honolulu.  I think that after we had our clearance out of Honolulu Jessica and I were so ready to depart that we didn’t pay much attention to the last-minute vegetable or fresh fruit shopping.  But never mind, Rum can be drink without fruit perfectly well.

The movie this evening was ‘Whiplash’.  Once again viewed in the cockpit under starlight.  Another beautiful sunset and night.  Voyage distance 914 miles.