Maupiti was most enjoyable.....and now well on our way to Palmerston
17 05 S 156 19.5 W
First of all a catch up from our last blog entry as we stopped at Maupiti. Had a great first evening with the cruisers from 5 other boats as we had our own “private” sandy island for a bonfire, drinks nibbles and lots of chit chat as we caught up with each other’s experiences. Another Canadian family from British Columbia had been in Maupiti for 2 weeks when we arrived….just soaking up their own private tropical paradise….kite flying, scuba, wake boarding, kayaking, snorkeling with the rays, etc etc……their boys are 9 and 11 and loving this life!! Where we were all anchored was a couple of miles from the main town on the main island…..really away from everything. We were very surprised to find that there were 1200 permanent residents on Maupiti…..almost not even a dot on the map…….the Pacific is so populated with these small islands and atolls….contrary to what it looks like when you first look at what seems to be nothing but a huge expanse of open ocean.
The next 2 mornings gave us the opportunity to swim/snorkel with the manta rays that for some unknown reason show up close to where we were anchored at about 9 am each morning and just slowly maneuver around taking in nutrients undisturbed by our close proximity. Wonderful creatures to watch ….their majestic. seemingly effortless, movement of their pectoral fins moving them in whatever direction they may want while their wide open mouths take in the plankton or other invisible marine life.
Maupiti also had a climb available to the mountain top…..but unlike Bora Bora this CLIMB (not a hike) was most enjoyable….you could keep your body upright and, although the trail required considerable finger grips onto rocks crevices to do the steep vertical, it was a delightful breeze to do ….compared to the tough climb at Bora Bora. I made it up in less than an hour….compared to 2 ½ hours to the summit at Bora Bora on the dry day and 3 ½ hours on the wet day.
Saturday morning had us depart through the south facing pass about 8:30 AM….it was very rough with steep waves from a strong southerly swells….we buried the bow a couple of times sending tons of water over Sea Mist ….right up over the dodger and across the bimini as the flood of water made its way to the stern….or ….as Sea Mist burst determinedly through the seas to reach the safety of the open water outside the relatively narrow, reef bound, pass/entrance.
We averaged 7.2 kts for the first 24 hours giving us 176 nm distance travelled by 9 am this morning; today is faster with average close to 8 kts. The question now is “when” will we arrive in Palmerston? It looks like it is most likely to be in the dark hours through the nighttime of the 17th – 18th. That may lead us to just keep on going the additional 400 nm to Niue rather than have to wait for daylight to handle mooring at Palmerston. This atoll does not have a pass wide/deep enough to handle large sailing vessels so there are 9 mooring balls set on the leeward side of the barrier reef. Many, many years ago a man by the name of Palmer settled on this atoll and the present day residents are family descendents from his lineage. One of 3 families “adopt” each vessel and supply you with a mooring ball and whatever else you may want if they have it during your stay. The word is don’t upset the culture!!....whichever family takes you on their mooring ball is the family that you must do anything else by way of activity or business during your stay….>BIG ISSUE!!...if you mistakenly try to deal or provide staples, fuel, etc to one of the competing families. Palmerston atoll is under New Zealand governance/protection……first time for us to be outside the rule of France since way back in March when we were in the Galapogos – Ecuadorean territory. They VERY rarely get a supply ship to come by so it is most important for them to get some goods from sailors like us….fundamental food goods like flower, butter, sugar for example….and gasoline for their outboard engines for fishing, etc.
Must go now to take care of sailing business; a mess of wet weather is passing through and that is upsetting our, up to now, steady wind (15 to 20 kts out of the South east…just aft of our port beam) and relatively comfortable sea state (2 – 4 meter southerly swells on our beam… with an expected wind driven chop on top. We have had the head sail poled out for 24 hours now as we have made great progress on port tack…..the forecast weather will back the wind (i.e. rotate the direction counterclockwise) more to the East which may cause us to head considerably off the rhumb line (straight line course) to Palmerston…..or….lead us to go wing-on-wing (head sail poled out to port with the boom/mainsail out to starboard) which is not really what we want to do as that configuration makes for a very rolly boat and slapping sails.
Cheers to all.
DTG to Palmerston 390 nm ; DTG to Niue 790 nm; DTG to Tonga 1036 nm