Passage to Suwarrow before shortening the course

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Mon 16 Jun 2014 23:32

Position           14:56.04S 157:14.67W

Date                1500 (UTC -10) Thursday15 May 2014


Distance run – 328nm over the ground, 314nm through the water

Time from leg start – 2 days 4hrs


Due to the relatively small amount of room in the anchorage at the isolated and uninhabited, except for a seasonal warden, island of Suwarrow in the Cook Islands and the limited moorings at Niue, the fleet was divided into two halves with two days between starts, this staggering the arrivals in the two destinations.


The official course was:


Bora Bora to Suwarrow with a 72 hour stopover in Suwarrow

Suwarrow to Niue with a 72 hour stopover in Niue

Niue to Vava’u, Tonga


We were undecided about the stop in Suwarrow as the warden would not be in residence and he provided a major interest according to the accounts of other cruisers.  However we started off with the best of intentions with forecast winds which indicated a brisk downwind sail to Suwarrow.


Rally boats starting the leg from Bora Bora to Suwarrow


The first night we sailed with a poled out genoa wing on wing with the main and mizzen but it was not giving us the speed required to keep up with other boats.  The cruising chute was the answer and the morning of day 2 saw the operation of dropping the pole and hoisting the chute.  The total time for this operation being just on an hour and it gave us an extra knot with generally quieter sailing.  Within two hours a problem occurred when the furler luff line parted company from the furler drum. 



This has always been a problem piece of kit.  This time we are definitely going to replace it with a snuffer.  For the time being however the sail was in the up position and working well.  Getting it down would be fun as we would have to drop all 1,500 sq feet of it onto the deck and get it under control.  Once down we would not be easily able to set it again so “Carry on sailing” for the time being.


A couple of gybes of the chute saw us safely through the night and into day 3 and then with the wind directly over the stern as we fell of a large wave the sail collapsed and wrapped itself around the forestay.  The only way that we could unwrap it was to drop it down and recover it.  This we achieved without damage to the sail which was in itself a relief.


We were now half way (ish) to Suwarrow without our good downwind sail and with a weather forecast that suggested that a change of plan to miss out Suwarrow and head directly for Niue was a good idea.