Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Passage Notes - Days 5 and 6 - French Polynesia (Raiatea) to Cook Islands (Palmerston Is.)



From The Bow - Broad reaching in nice conditions but softening winds. Makes it vastly easier to deal with the inevitable equipment issues that arise.


Panda's Not Happy:

Day #5: The Fischer-Panda Genset started making a horrible noise (like loud popcorn - high voltage sparking?). Gah! Not believing in coincidences, Tom thought the noise might have something to do with the recent water leak inside the genset box. Instead of charging using the genset we had to use the engine, plus our solar since it was a sunny day. The good news - since our water heats only by engine, we would have hot water for showers that night! Tom went back to trouble-shooting the genset as well as going around the deck with a screwdriver to tighten loose screws. Turns out our vang (which holds the boom up) tang had a few screws loose (pun intended) so he attended to those as well.

We discovered that our lazy bag (bag into which the mainsail drops, keeping it more or less in order) has a few problems. The bolt-rope was coming out of the boom track and we secured our third reefing line in the wrong location on the boom which was ripping out the sail slides (bolt rope and slides keep the bag attached to the boom). We discussed the bolt-rope problem and reckoned it was caused by 1) the lazy jacks which are too tight at the back (we just installed new ones with a new configuration), and/or 2) the location of the third reefing line. We decided to wait for the wind to abate before attacking these problems.




Classic sunset shot aboard - this good weather is how one becomes lured into doing another long passage. 
The weather forecast indicated this might be our last pleasant day. It was calling for it go squally tomorrow, followed by a big wind and wave event that will last through next Wednesday. (This is Thursday.) The boats that were at Palmerston have all left to seek shelter at Niue which has better protection. We discussed diverting to Niue, but reckon we would have at least 1.5 days of rotten sailing in big winds and huge seas before arriving there. We also have a "social mission" in Palmerston, more about that in a later post. We decided to maintain the course and arrive in Palmerson tomorrow (Friday) and hunker down there. Even though the winds are predicted to come from the E to SE and mooring field is on the W, we expect to have to endure some uncomfortable wraparound swells during the event. Oh well, or is it "Oh Swell"?

Dinner tonight was mahi-mahi burgers and cole slaw. Yum!



Gloomy weather, sunny smile. Sylvia  on watch in foulies as we neared Palmerston. 

Land Ho!!:


Day #6: It was another surprisingly pleasant night but with lighter winds. We were eking the last sailing miles out of Cinnabar before having to fire up the engine and motorsail down the track. At 0300 (3:00 a.m.) the wind abated further and so it was a good time to simultaneously motor along and attack the lazy bag and reefing line problems. We eventually got everything sorted out by 0500 and when we looked around we discovered that the previously-clear sky was gone and was replaced by heavy clouds and squalls (i.e. the cold front we were expecting earlier in the eve.). The wind rapidly increased to 18-22 kts, so off with the motor and out with sails again. Tom went off-watch for some much-needed sleep and I watched the sun rise between squall lines. 

Once the sun was fully up the weather didn't seem as ominous but it was still a far cry from our previous days of sailing. We sighted land at around 0900, low lying Palmerston Atoll. We had a very windy last leg with reefed main and jib and we were still screaming along at 8-10 knots, taking water over the bow for the first time since night #1. 


On a mooring in the open ocean on the western side of Palmerston Atoll. The  'motu'  is the 'home island' where the  inhabitants (~39 persons) reside. After only about 6 hours of squally weather, the cold front move east , leaving behind sunny skies.
We radioed the folks at Palmerston and a nice man named Edward came out to direct us to a mooring. All the moorings are on the west side of the atoll since the prevailing winds come from the East. Due to our deep draft I had requested the mooring farthest from the reef. Maybe that was my mistake as he directed us to one that looked to be only 200-300 feet from the reef, ack!! Keep in mind that Cinnabar is 52' long and was on a mooring line that has about 25' of surface line. Do the math and the separation with the reef is very small if the winds shift 180 degrees and the boat lies in the opposite orientation. The good news is that the BWE (big wind event) is predicted to be E to SE. It was already blowing a steady 20 knots, what in the heck will it be during the BWE? At 1109 hrs we were secured and made arrangements with Edward to meet with Customs (they would come out to the boat). He also told us that we could use a long line to secure the boat to the neighboring mooring so that we could be attached to 2 moorings. (We later discovered that the deeper moorings belong to "Bob" while the shallower ones belong to Edward, hence our placement. Edward and Bob are related, as are all the inhabitants of Palmerston, but more about that later.)

We breathed a sigh of relief, had a hug of accomplishment, and went about Cinnabar putting lines and things away in preparation for clearing customs and our trip ashore which would include lunch prepared by Edward's family.

We had arrived!


Palmerston Atoll Brochure  -  The mooring field is just north of the western tip (off Home Island).. And apparently, they awarded Tom his very own  motu (SE corner). He's contemplating building a secret kiteboarding  camp there.











Trip Totals:

Duration:               115 hrs
Dist. Made Good:    675 nm  (avg BSP 5.9 kts)
Dist. Sailed (Log):   810 nm (avg BSP 7.0 kts)
Engine hrs:            10.2 hrs
Fish count:             1 mahi-mahi

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