Suwarrow atoll is in the Cook Islands and is known for being the home of author Tom Neale, who wrote the book/autobiography “An Island to Oneself” back in 1977, who lived on this atoll for over 20 years.
Our passage to Suwarrow was about 575 miles….a 5 day passage, the longest passage since our crossing of the Pacific ocean to French Polynesia. It was hard to get use to the long night watches and the chores of living while moving on the open sea. We left Mopelia with SV Terrapin and SV Me Too and were able to get a few photos of them sailing out of the pass.
Mostly we had calm seas, which for sailing sucks!!!!! We actually motored over 50 hours to arrive and enter the pass before the 25 knots forecasted to come and to arrive during daylight hours and slack tide. BUT….we caught our first dorado, aka Mahi Mahi (yummm)!
As all boats sail at different speeds and have different fuel capacities….our friends on SV Me Too arrived at the pass in Suwarrow at 11pm! Trevor and I took our laptop and GPS puck to help them through the pass since you could not see the reef at that hour. We took our dinghy and tied to their boat and boarded them with our GPS and got them safely anchored in a very small anchorage surrounded by reefs. 30 minutes later the winds picked up to 20 knots and we all were thankful to get them safely anchored!
SV Terrapin arrived the next morning…unfortunately the 25 knots of wind was well upon the area and it brought squalls. We tried to give them waypoints but I gave it to them in a different format for their navigation unit. We met them in the dinghy to help them into the anchorage since the squalls hindered good light to see the reefs. Everyone safe..we all took naps!!!!
We checked in with the rangers (Katu and Harry). They boarded us, filled out some paperwork, shared some sodas and sprayed our boat. We paid them $50 usd as a fee to visit the national park. Suwarrow is not technically a port of entry for the Cook Islands but they allow boats to stop. You can see Suwarrow is between Northern and Southern Cook Islands and Suwarrow was in line with American Samoa, our next stop. So it made sense to stop here.
The weather got crazy as predicted…. (snubbers snapping, re-anchoring, free diving to release anchor chain that had wrapped around coral heads that made bows of the boats get submerged)
We did manage to get onto land for 2 potlucks with 6 other boats and the rangers. Let’s just saw everyone showed up soaked from the dinghy ride but our spirits were high to be on land that was not pitching and rolling all the time.
Checking out-not much time spent here missed out on swimming with mantas and sharks, but weather requires us to keep moving before another system hits. We decided to travel into the 20-25 knot winds with 2-3 meter seas in hopes to arrive in Pago Pago before the next, and worse, system is upon us. Pago Pago is a natural harbor where at Suwarrow, we are exposed to seas and winds and surrounded by coral. We were not comfortable with putting that much chaffe/wear and tear on our gear…might as well be sailing in it!
Next- Pago Pago, American Samoa – a slice of America in the middle of the pacific Ocean.