Leaving Suwarrow and sailing to Samoa

Monday September 10th
noon local, 2000 UTC
Position South 13.40 West 168.46

We are completing our second day of sailing between Suwarrow and
Western Samoa, a distance of 510 nm. We hope to reach Western
Samoa sometime tomorrow. So far we have had good winds – ranging
from 10 to 18 knots . We have the wind directly behind us and
have our two head-sails up making for a very fast, although
sometimes rolly sail. As the boat dips in the swells the large
jib which is poled out to the port side of the boat tends to
fill with air and then snap as it rolls off. It can be very
annoying. Other than that it is a good sail- we have made great
time – averaging almost 8 knots per hour all day yesterday.
Today so far we are averaging a little less than 7 knots. We
were sad to leave Suwarrov as it was really one of the nicest
two weeks of our trip. If anyone is interested in reading about
Suwarrow there is a great little book by a guy named Tom Neale
who lived on the island alone in the 50’s and again in the 70’s.
It is called “An Island to Oneself” and you should be able to
get it in any public library. The island really has not changed
since he lived there – except now there are a dozen boats in the
harbor as opposed to the 2 a year that visited when he lived there.
The other yachts in the harbor were all so friendly, and the
island caretakers were great. We fished, snorkeled, explored the
outlying motus, visited with friends, walked over coral reef
barriers, shared dinners, and read a lot. I even played my
keyboard for our friends – and am now planning to learn a couple
of popular pieces so that I can accompany Alexandra as she sings
them. We had planned to leave Suwarrow at the same time as our
friends on Rishu Maru and Yara, but when we tried to pull up our
anchor we found the chain was wrapped around a head of coral
some 50 feet down. Rishu Maru and Yara had already pulled up
their anchors by then, and started out of the pass. Other people
we know on the Norwegian boat “Menja” and the American boat
“Seafari” noticed we were having trouble getting our anchor up
and came over to help. Frank, the young guy on Menja even put on
his snorkel fins and mask and went into the water to get a good
look at how the anchor chain was wrapped and he called out
directions for us to move the boat. We spent quite some time
manoevering around, but were firmly stuck. Frank then went over
to another boat where he knew that they had diving tanks. It
looked like we might have to have someone dive down to free the
chain. But Mark tried moving the boat backwards which gave a
good pull on the chain and after a few more minutes we were free.

Just outside the atoll we came upon a couple of whales – the
first ones we have seen for months. They were cavorting like
crazy in the water – lifting up their fins and slapping them in
the water and then leaping staight out of the water several
times. It was fantastic to see. We soon caught up to Risho Maru
and Yara and for the first day we were all in sight of each
other and could talk on the VHF. Our boat is quite fast when it
sails downwind with the two head-sails out and by the end of the
day we had passed both of our friends and are now about 30 miles
farther west than them. We can still talk to them on the SSB
and we have scheduled calls twice a day to check up on each other.

Hannah is now in Madagascar and we are hoping to hear from her
soon. Ben has purchased plane tickets to come visit us in late
September in Tonga. An exciting last couple of months of this
trip await us.