sailing within the Cook Islands

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July 1 - 5, 2005

    We left Penrhyn mid-day on July 1, and we headed for Rakahanga which is a small atoll 186 miles WSW of Penrhyn.  We had 15 knots of wind from the east, and we were headed just slightly south of west, so we sailed with a poled-out #1 jib and no main.

 

dinner for 2 hungry sailors

 

    Fish slayer tossed in a lure with hopes of his good luck continuing.  He caught a small tuna within a few minutes.  We ate the entire thing that night.

    Although our seas were only 3', we were rolling uncomfortably.  So we raised a single-reefed main, and sailed wing-and-wing.  The rolling decreased enough to make life on-board more comfortable.

    As we neared Rakahanga, weather to the south of us gave us very light winds that shifted 45.  We furled our jib, shook the reef from the main, and motor sailed on to Rakahanga where we arrived early morning on July 3.

 
 

secluded Rakahanga

    What we could see of Rakahanga was beautiful.  The islets are heavily forested, and the only channel we saw leading inside followed a winding path which looked like a river.  We could only see a small area inside, and we wanted to see more.

    A local on the shore contacted us on VHF radio, and we asked him for local knowledge to anchor.  He directed us towards a few spots, but they were all at least 80' deep - too deep for our comfort.  We spent an hour or so looking for a shallower place, but we never found one.  So disappointedly, we sailed on to Manihiki.

    Manihiki is also an atoll only 21 miles SSE of Rakahanga.  We were rained upon during the first few miles of the sail, and we had a few small squalls blow over us, so we started out with a double-reefed main.  But the skies cleared and it was a great sail.

 

after the wrestling match

 

    Fish slayer again tossed in a lure and quickly caught a nice Mahi Mahi.  The fish was barely hooked, and Nita's gaffing barely grazed him, so when he flopped on board he immediately flopped free of the hook and gaff.  The following wrestling match between fish slayer and the fish was as funny as it was messy, but in the end, fish slayer prevailed.

    Manihiki appeared totally different from Rakahanga.  It was sparsely forested, so we could see across most of the large lagoon; however, we never did see how to get inside the lagoon.  But again, it was too deep to anchor.  We found one spot at 60', and we would have been willing to stay there for a few hours, but we would not feel safe leaving the boat for any length of time.  So we again decided to sail on.  With a single-reefed main and our entire #1 jib we headed for Suwarrow which was 109 miles away on a course of 215.

 
 

Manihiki - too deep to anchor

    Our sail to Suwarrow was relatively uneventful except for the occasional squall, but visibility was good enough that we always had time to reduce sail.  We did have a large swell from the south which grew increasingly uncomfortable, but the squalls were little more than inconveniences.  We arrived Suwarrow at mid-day on July 5, and we anchored inside the lagoon in 40' sand.

    Read about our stay on Suwarrow.