Heading West - Day 1 16 32.39S 152 04.09W

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 6 Sep 2010 00:57
On our way once more and this is our noon position today. Left Bora-Bora and the Society Islands at 09.00 this morning and are heading west, but where to? The next major island group is Tonga, 1300 miles west. In between are the Cook Islands, followed by the tiny independent island of Niue. The Cooks are also very small dots spread out over a huge amount of Ocean. The 3 main islands are Rarotonga, about 540 miles to the south west, Aitutaki about 480 miles west and Suvarov about 650 miles to the north west. Rarotonga doesn't have a very good harbour and the island is really out of our way. Aitutaki is shallow and our keel is about 2 feet too deep to get in and Suvarov is a bit out of our way to the north. But there is another, much smaller island, Palmerston atoll, 660 miles west of Bora-Bora. It's not that far out of the direct line to Tonga. From Palmerston its about 400 miles to Niue and from there another 260 miles on to Tonga. So Palmerston, Niue and Tonga is the plan at the moment. However, the weather has been doing unpleasant things recently with big swell and winds from the south, not good news for either Palmerston or Niue where the anchorages are exposed unless the winds are from the east. So we'll see when we get closer and will stop if the weather permits. If not we'll just keep going to Tonga.

It's a lovely sunny day today. Winds are currently 15 to 20kts from the east, so have both headsails poled out and reefed and no mainsail, and are making anything from 6 to 7.5kts depending on the wind strength, which is quite variable at present. The swell is mainly from the east, but a big south easterly swell comes past every so often and we then roll. Big weather systems in the southern ocean are felt all the way up here and you do have to watch the weather closely and try and pick a good weather window if you can. We hope we have this time!

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