Submitted by Kathy
Wednesday, August 11th,
Suwarrow has been wonderful. It's beautiful, calm, unspoiled, with only a few boats, 2 rangers and a cat. It's a Cook Islands National Park. The rangers, James and Apii process customs and immigration, and take the visitors exploring and fishing. They host potlucks in the rustic shelter, so everyone gets acquainted.
We slept most of the first day. In late afternoon Bill inflated and launched the dinghy (a big job) and we went ashore for potluck and had a wonderful evening. Mojumbo, a boat cruised by 3 young commercial fishermen from Comox, British Columbia. It was really fun to reminisce about BC. They had speared some grouper and other fish for the potluck, and it was divine!
Yesterday, Thursday, was calm and sunny, and warmer than we had become used to in the Societies. Bill and I walked Anchorage Island and snorkeled the nearby coral heads in shallow water near the anchorage. The variety of coral is lovely.
Friday, August 13th, Uh Oh
Last night, we had a light snack for dinner, which turned out to be a mistake as we ended up on anchor watch all night. The wind and waves built. And no more nice, light, short misty showers. No, now we had the real deal, driving rain and wind. (But, now we're drinking cool rainwater.) Although the wind rarely got above 30kts, things got gnarly. We were anchored in 70 ft and the anchor chain was wrapped under a coral head and was grinding and yanking hard on the boat with each passing wave. It was very loud and we risked the chain breaking or chafing through. Yikes! In pitch darkness and driving rain, we tried to unwrap the chain for over an hour. Finally, it came free. Hmmm, Jaime Gifford had told us to buoy the anchor chain with fenders to keep it off the coral heads. Doh! We wished we followed his advice when we anchored.
So, between 12am and 3am, we managed to get some chain in and attach a couple big fenders to hold it up in the water. The wave motion is also very hard on the snubber, the short rope used to take up the load from the chain and protect the windlass from the shocks. Bill rigged a second, bigger primary snubber. The dinghy was hanging and swinging off the side of the boat, low enough that waves were washing in over its bow. We had to bail it, raise it and secure it. We went below to dry out about 3:30. Bill stayed up the rest of the night monitoring our position on the plotter to make sure we didn't drag. Some of the other boats broke their snubbers and were up late too.
This morning, the squally weather continues. One couple woke to find its dinghy had blown away in the night. Apii, one of the rangers, took the cruisers out in his boat and retrieved it, unharmed from the reef on the far side of the lagoon. What a relief for them.
We spent the day reading and napping. I picked up a copy of _Hotel Pastis_, by Peter Mayle, in the Suwarrow book exchange. It is set in Provence and every few pages the characters open a bottle of wine. So I thought, hmm. Sounds good. So around 11am, I was opening a bottle of wine when Bill got up. I said, "this doesn't look good, does it". He said no. (He still hadn't had breakfast.) But the wine tasted very good with some bread and brie. Yum.
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