Bound from Palmerston Atoll towards Tonga
It’s September already! Those who joined the ship in New Orleans can’t believe how fast their time onboard has gone and those who have been on since the winter in Lunenburg, well, they consider the ship home. For the crew that hail from north of the equator, September marks a new beginning, a time when a fresh school year starts. As we sail into Leg 2 of this voyage the crew members are growing more and more as seamen, and with new hands onboard the old crew can help them through learning the ropes. We have lots of teachers now.
Yesterday we sailed off the hook from Palmerston Atoll meaning we lifted the anchor, loosed and set sails and sailed due west for Tonga without turning on the engine. Palmerston is made up of five very small islands. Home Island, as the locals refer to it, is the only populated piece of land. The island is low, no more than ten feet high, 900m wide, it takes a total of 15 minutes to walk the circumference.. unless you stop and chat with the families that inhabit the sandy island, as they’ll invite you in for copious amounts of food, tea and coffee and of course coconuts. At that rate, it takes all day to walk the island, especially with an overstuffed belly.
When we sailed into Palmerston on August 30th, two boats came out to greet us, we loaded their cargo into the boats that we transported from Rarotonga and half of the crew was whisked off to the island. When they reached the beautiful white sandy shore, the islander families each plucked a group of sailors and lead them to their homes. Upon arrival, our crew was offered a mountain of food; breadfruit, parrot fish, fried chicken, rice, stir-fry, juice, tea, coffee and of course ice cream. Arriving at Palmerston was like arriving home after a long year away at university. We were cared for as if we were one of their own. Our crew were eager to understand the islanders’ way of life and to help out as they could. Our engineer, Deyan, worked to fix a few outboards, ATVs and solar panels for the locals. Our doctor, Tomas of Argentina, assisted the island’s nurse Shelia (from Papua New Guinea) with patients, and the Captain donated some of our medical supplies. Other crew members were able to go crab hunting and fishing, as well as help with gathering coconuts – we’re all addicted to coconuts and have a healthy amount to feast on onboard.
Leaving Palmerston tugged at our heartstrings. After spending five intimate days living with the islanders, they gave us an unforgettable farewell with traditional South Pacific songs, wished us a safe journey and offered us to return. We do not leave empty-handed. On a previous voyage the islanders gave the Captain two wrecked small old wooden boats, Karl and Sydney, which he and the crew restored to perfect working order and they now happily reside in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. This time around, a small boat by the name Ann was looking worse for wear (falling apart) and again the islanders entrusted this last small boat, first launched February 26th, 1957, to our captain and crew. The project of restoring the old girl will be a fantastic education on boat building. Boat building at sea will be the added challenge. The Captain says ‘if you want to learn boat building one way is to rebuild a boat that was well built to begin with’. He says that this boat will be an interesting job for us.
Ship’s work: First day back at sea, the crew shakes off their shore brain and regains their sea legs. The carpenters discussed plans with the Captain on how to restore Ann and photo document her fine craftsmanship which they hope to replicate. The rudder shaft on the aloha deck received its 7th coat of primer, the breezeway handrails were scuffed and primed as well as the breezeway overhead was spot painted to keep its tropical blue paint looking fresh. This morning our sailmaker, John of Massachusetts, who is celebrating his birthday today, was seaming away on the new t’gallant sail, along with the help of Sue of England and Chief Mate Erin of Bermuda. All in all it’s been a pleasant day back at sea and we’re looking forward to a few days away from land.
From: Palmerston Atoll, Cook Islands
Towards: Vava’u, Tonga
Date: September 4th, 2018
Noon Position: 18°10.4 S’ x 165°07.8′ W Course + Speed: W by S Wind direction + Force: ESE + 5 Swell Height + Direction: 3m + E by S
Weather: Sunny, slight overcast
Day’s Run: 110 nm
Passage Log: 112.5 nm
Distance to Port: 505 nm
Voyage: 8626.8 nm
Sails Set: main upper and lower tops’l, main t’gallant, foresail, fore upper and lower tops’l, fore t’gallant, outer jib, main topmast stays’l