The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sun 3 Aug 2014 18:58



09:53S 157:06W


We did 120 miles in the last 24 hours and so far, we've done 500 miles with 80 miles to go to Penryhn in the in Cook Island. The wind is currently from the north-east, so we're on a beam reach doing 4-5 knots in the 4-6 foot seas.  It’s sunny at the moment, but there are lots of big showers around in the distance. We’re planning to slow down today,spend another night at sea and arrive at the pass tomorrow morning.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


2 August 2014  Bora Bora to Penrhyn, Cook Islands (Day 4)

The days are starting to turn into a blur now - it was another lovely sunny day with light 10-15 knot winds from the east.  We pulled the jib back out to port in the morning and poddled along on a broad reach at 4-5 knots in the 4-6 foot seas.


I checked into the Isabella net at eight o'clock and people are bolting for cover.  "Malua" is two days from Tonga and Harry says that it's like being in the Southern Ocean, with 30-35 knot winds and huge seas.  I'm glad that we're up here.


We landed a nice 3-4 foot long wahoo, which I filleted.  Glenys cooked some for lunch and made Fish in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce for dinner with mashed potatoes and peas - yummy.  She's put three meals worth into vacuum sealed bags and put them at the bottom of the drinks fridge because her small freezer is full up.  The small vacuum sealing appliance is turning into an essential part of her food management - it not only seals food into a compact bag, but helps to preserve it longer by sucking out the air.


It was such a nice calm day that I spent most of it down below, catching up on editing photos and our website and spent a few more hours programming my Marine Life application.  I got so engrossed in it that I had a "reality attack", when I suddenly realised that we're all alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


The wind slowly backed during the day and by two o'clock in the afternoon, we were on a broad reach doing six knots with 180 miles to go - there was a fighting chance that we could make landfall tomorrow afternoon, so we pulled out the stay sail to go faster.  Unfortunately, a hour later the wind dropped a little and we resigned ourselves to another two nights at sea.


By sunset, the wind had backed even more, so that we were on a close reach with the wind 80 degrees off our starboard bow.  The forecast is for the wind to back even more over the next 24 hours, so we altered course to go 20 degrees further upwind.  It's no hardship to go upwind in these light winds and calm seas and if the wind increases or backs more then we'll be able to ease the sheets and hopefully get to Penrhyn in one tack.


We had some short heavy showers during the night, which brought 20 knot winds.  At 0200, during a particularly windy squall, I rolled away the staysail and reefed the genoa and we spent the rest of the night with one reef in the main and 5 wraps on the genoa.  Why do we always seem to get these squalls at night? 


Typically the wind will drop down to 5 knots and the sails will start to flop around.  The wind then starts to increase and back and, in less than a minute, we'll have over 20 knot winds.  Depending if the squall hits us directly, we may have heavy rain or even none at all, before the damn thing passes by and the normal winds return - until the next squall arrives...  In the pitch black of a moonless night, it's very unsettling .