Friday, August 15, 2008

Another Heartbreaking Goodbye

Was it really only 11 days? How could we become such good friends in such a short time? When we left Penrhyn, both Alex and his cousins Emere and Soloman had insisted we find John Williams, their uncle on Manihiki. His son John-Mary Williams was the health inspector that checked us in. We hit it off right away and had a wonderful time getting acquainted with his family.

The worst thing about cruising this way is the number of times you have to leave friends and nice people behind, likely to not see them again for a long time. Eline Quin, a cruiser and song writer even wrote a song about the heartbreaks of leaving each anchorage. I didn't realize when I heard her how true it would be.

The weather report was good, I thought, 15 to 20 on the beam and only a little rain. The swell was to be a little more than I wanted, 8 feet first day and 10 the second. It should take 48 hours at our usual 4 to 5 knots. But no. The 15 turned to over 20! We made a steady 6.5 knots the whole first 24 hours for almost a record time of 149 miles. out of 206, that was making us too early. ETA was 8PM, just after dark, so we would not be able to enter the pass. We couldn't go any faster. So we tried to
slow down. first I changed from the big jib to the staysail. We speeded up, but the boat stayed flatter. still too fast. I tied in the second reef in the main, the mizzen still had the cover in it. Finally we slowed down to 4 knots. Then the predicted and the 20 turned to 30 and more during the rain squalls. Back to 6 knots.

At 10:30 PM only 36 hours instead of the 48 I planned, we were just 10 miles off the reef. Nothing showed on the radar. The entrance pass here at Suwarrow is on the east or up wind side. I had planned to arrive up wind so it would be easier to finish the last few miles straight down wind. But with that much wind I decided to heave to there, 10 miles out to make sure we didn't drift into the reef while we slept. We set the radar alarm and an alarm clock. We must have had a current. We were still making
1.3 knots by the GPS but the water wasn't moving by the boat.

The motion was really uncomfortable, over 10 foot swells on the side rolling the boat back and forth. We tried to sleep on the setees. Neither of us rolled into the floor, but we were still tired each time we woke up. We had both a touch of the 'mal de mir' this trip, and didn't eat much, just crackers, cheese, salami and some jelly.

At 4:30 the atoll was on radar though only the motus, none of the reef. I couldn't decide how far the reef came out. I thought we were too close so started the motor and motored back 3 miles more from shore. At 7:00 the sun started up. We were back to about 4 miles off, but still couldn't see any island. At 3 miles it showed up! I'm sure glad we are traveling by GPS. This would be a tricky business by sextant and eye alone!

The pass was uneventful. As we rounded Anchorage Island we saw 3 boats. One looked familar, but I didn't really expect to see anyone I knew here. We anchored in 35 feet of water between small coral heads. Probably have trouble with the anchor again.

Tired from the rocking and rolling and lack of food, we tried to get the boat ready for the anchorage. Wash a few clothes, hang up all the wet stuff from the waves splashing around. Put up the tarps over the hatches and open them up to dry out. Woops!!! All kinds of bad language! I dropped the forward hatch closed on my finger. The crack is only about a 1/4 and guess what? It made the red stuff leak out, a lot! ouch, I hit it on the keyboard again! I don't think it broke the hatch, or the finger,
but I have a nice long fish hook shaped cut inside my ring finger from the pad past the first knuckle. "That's gona take a long time to heal", is all I could think. Don't work around complicated machinery when you're tired!

All day I kept looking at the fartherest boat. It looked sorta like Cloud Nine, but it couldn't be. I haven't heard from them since they were in Central America several months ago. They should have already passed by. But mid afternoon, as the pain killers were wearing off (Bayer aspirin, pain killer, Ha!) They came over in their dinghy. I didn't feel up to putting ours together yet. And sure enough it IS Lynn and Ian. They were working on their boat in San Carlos the whole time we were there in 2006.
We saw them again in Zuatenajo briefly too. It will be nice catching up with them again.

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