Lat: 19 03.522′ S
Lon: 161 44.104′ W

The first night out after a long stay near land can often be a little rough. We’re generally still getting used to the motion, and watches in the middle of the night are difficult after getting used to sleeping all night. The seas on this passage haven’t been bad, and we all pretty much have our sea legs again.

We did much better our first day than we anticipated — right around 100 miles. The wind did start out light, but then we ran into several squalls. Luckily, we were able to stay dry for the most part, sailing along the edge without leaving the rhumb line. With the full main and jib up, we were doing over 7 knots. Once we passed through the squalls, right before sunset, the light winds returned, and this morning we put the spinnaker up since the winds were light from the port quarter or astern.

By mid-afternoon, we could see another line of rain ahead, and right when we were in the middle of a project. Tomatoes were plentiful and cheap in Aitutaki ($3 NZ for a big bag), and we also have green pepper and onion, so we decided to try our hand at chips and salsa. For chips, we made our typical flour tortillas and cut them into small pieces. Since we don’t have jalapenos, we added some hot sauce and let the green peppers fool us. It was tasty, and made things a bit more cheery when we had to drop the spinnaker and put the jib up for the rain squall. There’s a rough damaged piece of stainless on the starboard bow pulpit that’s been there since we owned the boat, and when the winds changed near the squall, the large spinnaker caught on it and ripped the bottom panel. Hopefully the damage will be contained to just that panel if we fly it again. Unfortunately, the wind clocked around to the WNW in the large squall, so the best we could do was sail south then northwest for a couple of hours, but we’ve just reached the other side of the rainy patch and it’s beautiful, with long, slow swells.

DSC_0837 A squall just ahead

DSC_0673 Dressed for rainy weather

When we were tacking to the northwest, we were on a course for Palmerston, only about 150 miles away. It was originally our our list of places to stop because it’s such an interesting story. In the 1850’s, an Englishman settled there with three wives, all of whom were from the northern Cook Island of Penhryn. The atoll was uninhabited before his arrival, and today, all the inhabitants of the island are his descendants. At some point the atoll was ceded to him by the British crown, and the original papers are still on the island. He set up “strict” rules for intermarriage, housed each of the three wives in a different part of the atoll, and worked hard to provide plenty of first-cousin dating options. Today they still speak an old English dialect, but a bit of a family feud has developed that extends to the “rights” to cruisers. In Palmerston you’re essentially adopted by a family on arrival. They pick you up from your boat in the morning and you spend the day doing a variety of projects, activities, and trading with them. The generally unspoken rules are that you’re not allowed to bring your dinghy ashore, move about the atoll as you please, or above all, mingle with a different part of the family. With supply ships being fairly infrequent, the small mooring fees and opportunities to trade with the cruisers are apparently a prize that the different factions of the family fight over, going as far as to race each other out to an approaching boat in order to be the group to claim it. As charming as being adopted and sharing activities with such unique hosts would be, we opted instead for snorkeling and diving Beveridge Reef.