Society Islands to Palmerston (Cook Islands)

Thu 9 Sep 2010 08:21
Having spent all of August in the Society Islands it is great to be off on a longer passage. We don't have any really long passages left, the last leg to NZ is only just over 1,000 miles. Our choice of Cook Islands to visit is based on the direct route to Tonga and expected better winds.
We both love being out of sight of land and other vessels and just gazing over the beautiful blue sea. The skies at night are back to gorgeous with shooting stars.
A slow start to our voyage to the Cook Islands and then squally weather resulted in the webbing on the Genoa being chafed through. Losing this little piece of webbing meant we couldn't furl the genoa or use it again until we get to a sail repairer. We managed to tie the genoa up and left it. We had to motor for 3 hours as no wind at all, then, when it was blowing again, we watched the genoa start to unfurl. Yes, typical, delay doing something and then end up taking the genoa down in the wind and pitch dark.
All sky has now disappeared and the sea has gone a very angry blue/purple. Murray literally had time to ask Caroline to turn the radar on as something didn't feel right. Before the radar warmed up a massive squall arrived, the wind direction changed and the Hydrovane couldn't cope because the sun-weakened material finally gave way.
The boat gybed herself, the anti-gybe rope snapped and its pulley flew right over the boat. We hove to in torrential rain and non-stop force 8 winds. Our relief arrived when the wind lessened after an hour, but the sky remained obscured with 100% cloud cover. We fired off an email to warn some friends who we thought might be in the path of the storm, to find later we had given them 1 hour's warning and they had time to prep the boat. Thankfully, as we already had no genoa, the only damage was a slightly bent stanchion which broke the anti-gybe rope and a couple of broken bimini studs. Later on the winds returned with the torrential rain, but the winds were reasonable when not gusting. We stayed on deck and reefed the main, then again, but we just got cold and wet, so we gave up with the main, tidied everything up and retired to our cabin where its warm and toasty and we had a chill out day reading. We managed up to 6.4 knots on just the working jib and without the main up we were happy to stay below as there is not much we can do on deck.
We were then hoping to see blue sky soon - at least the boat looked clean with all the rain. The blue sky appeared as a patch for a couple of minutes at the end of the day, with the winds still mainly force 7.
We arrived off Palmerston at 11.00pm and as it was impossible to see to moor or anchor we hove to in filthy conditions for the night.
So, we have arrived with no genoa, a blocked toilet (fixed) and slight bimini damage (fixed). The Hydrovane material having finally blown out was repaired en route with duct tape (better than new!).
We are rewarded with stunning Palmerston - you feel like you are at the end of the earth.
Us at anchor