The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Fri 1 Aug 2014 18:41



12 59S  154 38W


So far, we've done 270 miles with 315 miles to go. We’re now on a broad reach doing 5 knots in 6 foot seas, heading towards Penryhn in the Cook Islands.  There’s quite a few clouds around and we’ve just had a rain shower.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


31 July 2014  Bora Bora to Penrhyn, Cook Islands (Day 2)

Dawn found us still on a broad reach doing 5-6 knots in 6-9 foot seas with east winds at 15-20 knots.  It was sunny with fluffy white clouds - perfect trade wind sailing.


I checked into the Goodbye Isabella net (which is still going) and gave them our position.  On this leg of the so called "Milk Run" across the Pacific, there are three main routes through the Cook Islands to Samoa and Tonga, 1200 miles away.  Most boats take the south route through Rarotonga or the middle route through Suwarrow Atoll and a few take the longer northern route through Penryhn.  It will be interesting to monitor the weather that each route gets over the next week.


I downloaded a GRIB file and the forecast is still for gale-force winds south of 12 degrees south.  It looks like Rarotonga will have over 30knots winds from this evening for five days; Suwarrow will have strong squalls in 2 days’ time and, hopefully the worst that we'll get will be a bit of rain and 15 knot north east winds in 3 days’ time when we’re approaching Penrhyn - fingers crossed.


The day continued to be fabulous and the seas dropped a little more, so it was idyllic sailing.     We'd had such good weather during the day that I didn't even reef the main, which is our usual practise overnight.


On my 7-10 watch, I heard a bang from the aft deck and found a red-footed booby standing there with its wing caught on the Hydrovane adjustment rope.  Using a towel to prevent the bird using its vicious looking beak on me, I managed to free its wing.  It looked tired, so I decided to let it have a ride for the night - it wasn't going to go hungry because it had regurgitated half a dozen squid onto our deck (nice!)


Unfortunately, five minutes later it was stood at the  back of the cockpit eyeing up a comfy cushion.  Now I like having close encounters with wildlife, but sharing our cockpit with a full sized booby was too much.  I tried to shoo it away onto the aft deck, but it kept coming back.  I then tried to get it to go forward on to the front deck, but it was not having any of that, so I grabbed it with a towel and tossed it over board.  It seemed to get the message and didn't come back.


At 0400, the wind had veered to the south east and I gybed the genoa across so that it was poled out to starboard – I’m glad that I left the spinnaker pole rigged up. Other than that we did nothing at all during the peaceful and star-lit night.