Friday, September 23, 2011

In the Cook Islands/thoughts on "jumping", - A leter to Uncle Pat from Tamsyn, and a Book Report

So after four days of sailing we are over 400 miles from Bora Bora and now in the Cook Islands - less than 100 miles from Atutaki a largish island with a tricky and narrow entrance. We probably won't stop there. We may stop in Palmerston (Cook Islands) a couple hundred miles further west.

The weather is fine, though much of yesterday we had light winds. The mornings start out fine and clear with 8 to 10 knots of winds. After sunrise the winds begin to build, and the air warms. By 9:00 am the air is muggy, and the temperature is above 80 degrees. Popcorn cumulus clouds appear to the north and begin building. By noon we've typically gone through at least one rain squall. By sunset the sky is filled with thunderheads, many with overshooting tops, producing the classic anvil shapes. Strangely enough, though they can produce high winds and torrential rainfall, there is no lightening. At night we reef sails, then put them back out again as squall after squall passes overhead. By 4:00 am their energy of the previous day has dissipated, and the sky is almost clear.

This is a long jump - this trip to Tonga, but very different from the big jump from North America. There is something about this idea of a "jump" that seems to figure large in the minds of many sailors. A jump is definitely over a few days in length, usually over a week. In port people say they are, "getting ready for the next jump." They provision, repair, talk to others about their intended route, and as the day comes closer they start watching the weather very closely. Anyone who says that they are not at all nervous about the upcoming jump, is either not being honest, or I wouldn't want to sail with them.

Talking with another sailor who has already made that particular "jump" or passage is very desirable. Boats make the jump in waves. One boat will go out, and the other boats are usually not ready yet. Not provisioned, not done playing, not repaired. Then a few more boats go out a day or two later. The remaining candidates for this "wave" of departures may have a few last minute things on their "to do list" or they might not like the weather. "What weather resources are you using"? is not an uncommon question down here where good weather info is not plentiful.

Then it is nearing your time to go; to make that jump you've gotten a wee bit keyed up about. You start getting radio emails from vessels who have left a week before. They are either having a great passage, or getting hammered in 30 knot winds. You check the weather again... and make a plan to go on a particular day. You may check the tides. You may download the weather twice a day. Now you have to actually stow all the gear and get the boat ready for sea, with two kids, that is a huge job. It takes at least a full days work - maybe two. Then there is the matter of catching up on sleep in anticipation of upcoming night watches.

Then it's your day. It's you pulling anchor, or dropping the mooring ball lines. You wave to friends on nearby boats - boats still getting ready for the jump. And then you are away. The first sunset comes, and the boat settles into it's "at sea" routine.

Our friends Joel and Christine on S/V Balena (a Westsail 33) are four days behind us. They just jumped.

We are well. Getting into the groove, and enjoying this passage so far. We'll be happy to make landfall when it comes, but for now this is very pleasant.

Here is a letter Tamsyn wrote back in Tahiti. It's to her uncle Patrick. She also wrote a book report.

* * * *
August 15th.

To Pat,
I am in Tahiti. We have a friend named Joel. we had him over for dinner yesterday. Joel is 30. He used to work on a NOAA ship! And we have another friend who is 5 1/2. Her name is Emma. I made her a gingerbread doll all by myself! I went swimming yesterday. Dad is going to get a fuel cylinder. Your sister is sitting at the table and not doing anything. Griffyn is still in the bathroom. How are things at home?


* * * *


"Rowan of Rin" is a book by Emily Rodda. The book is about a boy, Rowan, who lives in a village and is the keeper of the cows. The stream stopped flowing. So the village sent seven people up the mountain to fix the problem. Rowan was the ost scared of the seven.

I think it is a good story. It is a bit scary, but not a lot. It is fun and that is why I like it. And it is the best story ever!

By Tamsyn Caddy

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