: see pictures just in - on deck through French Polynesia! Here.
Saturday 7th July 2001
Soren Larsen is in Nuku'alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga, where the ship is between voyages. As they prepare for Monday's departure
(Tonga to Fiji V148), here is 1st Mate Sally Anderson's Weblog report of the voyage
from the Cook Islands:
"The Cook Islands were an absolute delight. Tranquil, easy going, relaxed
and inexpensive. V.B at the bar and a cinema!!! The crew were ecstatic.
We spent five days at Rarotonga, the Group's largest
island, and we were lucky enough to get to know the locals quite well as nearly 80 of them
joined us for a half daysail on Friday. The afternoon was a huge success and we had a rip
roaring sail with a fresh easterly wind.
The next day all the crew were invited to the local
Yacht Club for a Family and Friends Sailing Day to raise money for local kids to learn how
to sail. It was a lot of fun, and we even entered a Soren team in the main race. Don't ask
where we came, but it is worth mentioning that Charlie (long term VC), who participated in
most of the days races, received an honourable mention as one of the top ten sailors of
That night, Saturday, brought even more excitement. A
tsunami warning was released early evening due to an earthquake in South America. We
prepared to put to sea, and literally as we were clearing the harbour entrance, the
warning was cancelled. Missed the movies that night!
On Monday our new VC joined us and we departed Raro
late afternoon, all keen to return here one day..
Our voyage plan to Tonga includes stops at Palmerston
Atoll and Niue Island. Palmerston lies 260' NW of Raro. Nuie, a large Makatea island, a
further 375' WSW and then another 310' down to Tonga in the SW.
Monday night found us with very light winds from the
NW - we motorsailed throughout. A little piece of magic happened around midnight though,
when half a dozen whales, either Sei or Fin whales, swam with the ship for nearly an hour,
all covered in phospheresence.
By Tuesday, late afternoon a Southerly wind had
filled in, about force three. We shut down the main engine and our new VC were delighted
to experience the ship under canvas alone.
On Wednesday, the wind backed to the SE, our
prevailing trade wind here, and blew a good force four all day. We sighted Palmerston late
afternoon, but as we require good light to approach our anchorage here, due to the coral
reefs, we had to stand off. We sailed off into the NE and wore ship at midnight.
Friday's dawn was beautiful as we approached
Palmerston. A few of the local boats were out to meet us, and the local navigator joined
us aboard and assisted us to the anchorage. All were ashore straight after breakie.
Palmerston Atoll, part of the Cooks, is
nearly 11km wide and contains 35 islands, which lie on the perimeter of the barrier reef
and enclose the lagoon. The colour of the water in the lagoon is gorgeous, with every blue
and green I could imagine. Palmerston looked like an atoll from the Tuamotos, yet the feel
ashore reminded us of Pitcairn.
Palmerston was uninhabited when Cook arrived in 1774.
But in 1863, William Marsters arrived to set up a coconut plantation with his three wives.
He died in 1899, having begotten 21 children! There is now a population of around 50, yet
thousands of descendants are scattered throughout the Cooks and
New Zealand. It is the only island in the Cooks where English is the first language.
All aboard had a great day ashore, exploring the
village, meeting the locals, swimming, snorkelling and visiting the local school. We were
back aboard for dinner and then set sail.
Unfortunately the wind had abated by midnight and the
main engine roared back into life.
Friday brought no wind, but Saturday did, a fresh
ESE'ly and by the afternoon we were sailing again.
Sunday, bacon and egg day! At 0600 we were
experiencing one of the best sails since the Curacao to Panama leg. The wind was East and
had freshened to close to 30 knots and we were sailing around the southern tip of Niue on
the port gybe. We wore ship and then raced up the west coast on another broad reach.
Before we came up on the wind and were in the lee of the land, Soren was making 9.5 knots
in the heavy SE swell. Magic! Superb green seas curtained by ominous stormy clouds made a
haunting backdrop. We were very tempted just to keep on going....
We anchored in Alofi Bay on the mid West side at
Niue is one of the smallest self governing nations in
the Pacific. It also boasts some of the finest coastal limestone crevices and chasms. As
there are no rivers, Niue also has superb diving as the visibility is so clear. The island
is 260 square km and has a population of 1600. (See www.niueisland.com for more info.)
Due to the local culture the island is basically shut
down on a Sunday! And it rained all day- first time in a long time, of course! But, we met
some great local people , who were kind enough to organise tours and such for us. After a
fairly hectic day taking in the sights, swimming and eating a fantastic feast for lunch,
all were back aboard for a lively dinner before we sailed.
By midnight we were back in the Bay of Biscay! Strong
SE winds gusting 40 knots were upon us! All hands on deck to reef the Main and shorten
sail. But wow wee, what a sail - and we're so glad we're heading west in it!
Tuesday is spent rollicking along the South Seas
between eight and nine knots with the wind still from the SE. The cause of this, a minor
tropical depression which has developed into a low and is squashing down on a big high
over NZ - we are in the middle.
By Wednesday the wind has backed slightly to the ESE
but continues blowing between a force seven and eight. Our noon to noon run is 207' which
is an average of 8.63 knots!
We approach Tongatapu at lunchtime. This is the main
island of the Tongan Kingdom and lies at the southern end of the chain. Tongatapu is about
18' (nautical mile) wide and 9' long. We approach from the east and enter the Piha
Passage at noon with the northern end of the island to the south and coral reef to the
north. The passage is about 7' long and narrows to 4 cables (10 cables make a nautical
mile) at the western end from nearly 2' wide at the entrance.
Then we take a sharp dog leg turn to the north,
between coral reef about 2 cables apart, before heading south into the main bay in which
Nuku'Alofa lies. Doing all this under sail alone, with 30 odd knots behind us and making 9
knots was absolutley mind blowing. Before we knew it we were anchored and we were all
speechless. What a finale!
The last evening was once again a lot of fun, and
Rose's Rum Punch fuelled many a debate over whose 4 hour watch covered the most
Tuesday 27th June 2001
After a fantastic stopover at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, Soren Larsen has
departed Avarua with a new complement of Voyage Crew for the voyage to the Kingdom of
Tonga. She sailed yesterday at 1500 hours and is heading west by north towards the tiny
atoll of Palmerston.
VC John Anderson's account of
the previous voyage from Bora Bora to the Cook Island and their
stay in Rarotonga HERE
Bora Bora is magnificent. It is probably the most photographed
island in the South Pacific, and rightly so. Entering the lagoon
is stunning, and as we did the cloud cleared revealing the island
in all its splendour.......
Also here is Voyage Crew
John Anderson (yes, father of Sally and Nick) account
(Part 1) of the voyage from Papeete to Bora Bora - Click
here for new shots of Soren in dry-dock at Tahiti.
Moorea, French Polynesia
(A word about Crew
here for the Web Log report Pitcairn / Henderson to Marquesas.
here for the Web Log report Easter Island - Henderson.
Below are links to Sally Anderson's Web Log reports from
the Galapagos to Easter island:
Part 1 tells of their passage from Panama
to Cocos island - 7/12th Feb. Click here.
Part 2 covers from Cocos
Island to the Galapagos - 13/18th Feb. Click here:
Part 3 recounts their journey
and Easter Island, and their experiment in traditional navigation
methods, 22 - 28th Feb:
Part 4: Continues the passage
to their arrival at Easter
Island, 1st-19th March: Click here.
VOYAGE CREW RETURNING HOME: Scan and email
or post your pictures of your voyage! If you have an account of your trip or a special
moment then let us a know. Your tales can be included in the Voyage Log!
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