Suwarrow to Tonga (Vava'U)

Neiafu Harbor

Date:July 1, 2014, 9:36 p.m.
Position:18 39.23 S, 173 59.02 W

At anchor in Neiafu harbor

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The Abyss

Date:June 30, 2014, 10:35 p.m.
SOG (kts):4.2
Position:18 10.00 S, 173 6.00 W

We have slowed down and are ghosting toward the Vava'u archipelago, timing our arrival for daylight. Today we sailed across the great Tonga Trench, a massive underwater abyss that is over 31,000 feet deep in places. Just 20 miles from the trench, the Capricorn seamount rises to within 750 feet from the surface of the ocean. It is mightier than the Himalayas down there!! I can't even imagine what it would look like, a wall of mountain higher than Everest and thousands of miles long. Privateer is enjoying a mellow day after our "salting" yesterday (144 miles noon-to-noon). The entire boat is crusted with thick gobs of rock-salt crystals. Last year a Kiwi told us the ocean is saltier down here--he wasn't kidding! Made lots of water today so we can give the boat a good bath when we get into port.

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Date:June 29, 2014, 10:33 p.m.
SOG (kts):7.5
Position:17 6.00 S, 171 11.00 W

Made record distance on our noon-to-noon today: 174 NM! Held a 7 1/4 knot average for 24 hours. Often, we surfed down wave faces at 10-11 kts. Had wind & seas on the beam, 18-22 kts, keeping dry under the dodger! 1st reef in main, staysail, "2nd reef" yankee. We are screaming toward Vava'u, Tonga. Flying fish thumping into the sails. Didn't need to adjust sails or Monitor the whole day today. "Privateer" is out here doing what she does best!

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Date:June 28, 2014, 10:32 p.m.
SOG (kts):8.3
Position:15 54.00 S, 168 29.00 W

We are halfway from Suwarrow to Vava'u now. Punching through the swells at 8+ knots with single reef in main, full headsails. This afternoon had a close pass with the freighter "Cosmos" bound for Panama. They altered course for us after we radioed & we passed within .75 mile. Amazing two ships in the middle of the ocean can meet at the exact same point!

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All Well at Sea

Date:June 27, 2014, 10:31 p.m.
SOG (kts):5.3
Position:14 44.00 S, 166 1.00 W

Smooth sailing last night & today, made 150 miles on our last noon-to-noon. Had our daily siesta Scrabble game down below, poking our head out the hatch every 15 minutes to look around. Tonight the new moon is a smiling sliver and the light from the earth is illuminating the dark parts, like a big crystal ball. The Monitor vane swings silently from side to side, ceaselessly holding our course true and steady. Indian food for dinner, long freshwater showers in the cockpit, naps, listening to music, daydreaming.

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At Sea Again

Date:June 26, 2014, 10:30 p.m.
SOG (kts):6.6
Position:13 31.00 S, 163 47.00 W

Making way under full sail in 12 knots of wind, beam reaching for Vava'u, Tonga (700 miles distant). Perfect sailing! This morning Steve dove on our anchor, which was wrapped twice around a coral head. We'd have lost our anchor if it wasn't for him. The depth & shark factor were beyond my scope as a beginning diver. There were loads of sharks and scallops the size of footballs on the bottom, 85 feet down.

We were fortunate not to have become a statistic in Suwarrow. The atoll is littered with shipwrecks. Many sailboats wrap their chains around a coral head just like we did, and when the wind & waves pick up (which they did for us too) the chain comes tight & snaps off the rode, and the vessel is driven onto the coral reefs. Our rode came up tight & vertical two nights ago and it snapped our snubber in two as we bounced in the chop. We spent the entire night hanging on the end of our nylon rode extension, adjusting chafe gear, and had the engine on and ready to go, at the helm and ready to act at the first moment. Luckily it never came. All of our dock/snubber lines are shredded, but we have our ground tackle!

Needless to say, it feels very good to be back at sea, where we can get a good night's sleep! We have a very favorable GRIB report for the week ahead, light to moderate SE trades.

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Fouled in Suwarrow

Date:June 25, 2014, 9:31 p.m.
Position:13 15.00 S, 163 6.00 W

Stuck in Suwarrow with fouled anchor.

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