Finally arrived this morning at Suwarrow. The last night was a long one with constant squalls, some bringing torrential rain, the heaviest we've seen since leaving Costa Rica over a year ago. The last one also brought a major wind shift....our typical 15-25 knot SE trade winds packed it in, to be replaced with a 5-10 knot northerly!! Happily(?) we just had about 30 miles to go, and wound up motoring for the last 5 hours in the dying noserly, to arrive at around 8am. It seems that the SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone), like it's cousin the ITCZ (also known as "the doldrums") has taken up residence at a higher latitude than normal...RIGHT OVER SUWARROW!!, bringing flukey winds, heaps of rain, and even thunderstorms.
Anchoring today was not without some drama. We typically check for lines in the water before starting our engine after we've been sailing. Unfortunately today we missed a line, our starboard running backstay, that lives coiled on the stern arch. The coil must've dropped over the transom during the night, and motoring forward was no problem. The problem became VERY obvious when we put the engine into reverse to set our anchor. Instantly we heard a horrendous noise from the arch, which holds solar panels, antennas, stern anchor, and of course, running backstays! These backstays are made of Dyneema, an extremely strong, low stretch, hi tech (read expen$ive) rope. The whole coil was solidly wrapped and knotted around the propeller and shaft. It pulled so hard that it put a bend into the overhead arch, and broke a weld. More work for New Zealand in a few months! After a quick recon to check out the underwater situation, Adam put on a scuba tank and went in to cut and hack the $400 hunk of rope to shreds to remove from the prop shaft. And this while 5 sharks were circling. Even though they were just black tipped reefies, they still get attention! At any rate, the line was finally removed, and no damage appears to have been done to the feathering prop, the shaft or bearings...whew, a bullet dodged, and not one we wanted to deal with after a pretty sleepless night of steady squalls.
But we're here at last, at this remote atoll in the middle of nowhere. Now the Cook Islands' only national park, it used to be the home of a modern day Robinson Crusoe, Tom Neale, who lived here in relative isolation for many years, and was supposed to have been a terrific host to visiting yachties. We're still trying to find a copy of his book, "An Island of Ones Own". Today the atoll is home to 2 park rangers who live here 6 months each year. They are dropped off by the government with supposedly supplies for entire their stay. There are no other supply boats, and no other support provided by their employer. The depend on yachties to bring other supplies (we had heard they needed coffee, sugar, gasoline, cigarettes, fish hooks, and rum!!!) We helped out with gifts as they sat aboard checking us in with customs and immigration forms, and afterwards gave Bravo a quick fumigation spraying. Buh bye bugs!!!
More to follow on the Suwarrow adventure....for now, it's time for an early movie and in bed by 8.....cheers!