After almost two months at Fanning, it was time to head south. We left mid-day on June 7, 2005.
Fanning is less than 4 degrees above the equator, and we were headed for Penrhyn, Cook Islands, which is 9 degrees below the equator, so we expected oppressive equatorial conditions. But we had a very nice sail.
We dodged a few small squalls, and we had only one substantial squall with gusts in the 30s when we were less than two days out of Fanning. We got becalmed and rained upon for two hours on June 14, and we got rained on the morning we were coming into Penrhyn. Otherwise, we had mostly sunny skies.
Our rhumb line course was 175 degrees, and we worried about the winds becoming southerly as we went further south. So we spent our second day out making easting, and we got far enough east to maintain a course of 180 degrees for most of the sail. The wind did stay forward of our beam about 90% of the time, but the seas were such that it was a pleasant reach.
We motorsailed three times on this leg. We motorsailed for 12 hours through one night when the winds just died. We motorsailed two hours a few days later. And we motorsailed the last 20 miles coming in to Penrhyn. We were pleased that we did not have to motorsail any more than that.
Crossing the equator
We crossed the equator on June 11 @ 0121 gmt at 158º03.148′ W. We opened an excellent bottle of champagne that had been given to us shortly before leaving Honolulu, and of course we toasted Neptune and Aeolus. Conditions couldn’t have been better as a new shellback arrived in the southern hemisphere!
We also had a guest for part of this passage – Bobbie the boobie. A large yellow-footed boobie (we think) landed on our bow pulpit on the morning of June 10 (local time). He crossed the equator with us, and he stayed with us for 2 1/2 days and two nights. He flew off occasionally to eat and tend to “matters of personal hygiene”, then he returned to his perch. An amusing diversion…