Goodbye Suwarrow

13:26.696S 165:22.108W

Saturday 5th October 2013

Distance run Day 1: 140 nmiles (26 hours)

After much deliberation over weather forecasts, we decided to leave Suwarrow
yesterday morning and head off to Vava'u, the northern group of islands in
the Kingdom of Tonga. We quite soon realised that we would have to re-think
our plans. Once clear of the island the winds were lighter than expected
and we couldn't make more than about 4 knots under sail. We motorsailed at
first to keep up our speed, but soon realised we would not be able to make
it to Tonga before the bad weather arrived there next Thursday/Friday, as
the winds were forecast to lighten and then disappear as the passage
progressed.

This was confirmed when we spoke by SSB and email to two boats that had left
a few days before who were making slow speeds in little wind. We can only
motor for about 400 nmiles and we had 700 to cover, so we were not going to
make it. We had the choice of carrying on and making slow progress and then
dealing with headwinds and bad weather in Tonga, or changing our
destination.

We had decided against going to Samoa as the passage down to Tonga from
there would be hard on the wind, not my favourite point of sail. American
Samoa, however, is just 450 nmiles from Suwarrow and not quite as far west
as Western Samoa, making the onward passage slightly less hard on the wind.
We checked the Gribs again and the wind looks better to the Samoas and the
bad weather hitting Tonga is not expected to come that far north. So we are
heading instead to Pago Pago in American Samoa to wait for the bad weather
to pass south, and then we will continue to Tonga. The downside is that
Pago Pago does not have a great write-up as an attractive place to visit.
Oh well, that's sailing. The weather is in charge. For the moment we have
enough wind to sail at a reasonable speed and the seas are fairly
comfortable.

Yesterday, whilst motoring, I checked in the engine compartment and found
water sloshing around under the engine. Further investigation found that it
was not leaking from the main engine, thank goodness, but from the water
pump on the generator. Fortunately we carry spare seals, so a couple of
hours work by Steve had it repaired and up and running again.

On the bright side, the sun is shining and it isn't raining - yet!