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Strong Tradewinds-Passage to Rarotonga #1

21-12S / 139-23W

The Picton Castle is sailing strong out here in the South Pacific Ocean – as I write we are under all plain sail in force 5 tradewinds blowing in from the NE. With Manga Reva well astern we are steering northwest around the infamous French nuclear test site atoll, Marururoa about 20 miles off. The chart indicates that “Access Interdit” or ‘access forbiden’…No problem, didn’t want go there much anyway! From Manga Reva we are shaping a course NW up to a point about 100 miles south of Tahiti, then we will steer west, then west- south-west for Rarotonga. This course will take us away from and around a weak low presure system on our direct track to the Cook Islands that would give us foul winds, at least that is the notion. As with so much at sea, subject to change! With these fresh winds we have been getting a daily (and nightly dose of squalls). These squalls come up from our windward quarter, give light rain and an increase in wind speed that usually send the ships speed over eight knots, sometimes up to nine which is pretty fast for us and, as long as everything is under control, makes for a quite thrilling ride! Yes, we have to mind our stearing and be ready to take in the lighter sails but this gang is pretty good by now and while wary for change, these squalls are exhilerating without being menacing or too powerful. And they all send the Picton Castle romping towards Rarotonga and the delightful Cook Islands.

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