Soon it will be August 7th! We are about to cross the date line and lose a day. We are currently about 170 nautical miles out of Tonga. I have not written in a while because we have been having a horrible set of passages broken up by a week in true paradise where I was too exhausted from having fun to write!
We left Bora Bora and had a hellacious 8-day passage to Suwarrow Atoll. The only cool thing I remember from those 8 days of wind driven hell, was being outside at 3 am and watching a large moonlit ghostly shape slide up next to IO. This creature was about the same size as IO as it paralleled our starboard side. It did not break the surface, it only hung illuminated under the full moon, then submerged under IO. A moment later a 2-meter (6 foot) dorsal fin pierced the water and rose to the height of our deck only meters from IOs port side. It was the unmistakable dorsal fin of a large bull Killer Whale silhouetted against the moonlit water. Briefly, a second and then a third shape moved past IO, then disappeared into the darkness. I never heard even so much as a breath.
Suwarrow turned out to be my absolute favorite place on this voyage so far, a true paradise. My only regret is that I did not write about our adventures there every day. I was too exhausted from those adventures. The reef was pristine; the animal life was how I imagined a pristine coral reef to be. There were so many sharks and our tolerance of them grew daily. What on day one seemed like stupidity, on day 3 became the norm. We spearfished with the ranger every day. We gutted the daily catch standing in knee deep water surrounded by blacktip reef sharks waiting for scraps. Every day spearfishing along side three species of reef sharks brought new adrenalin, new experience and thankfully no new scars. Along with the crew of Oso Blanco and Totem and Apii our ranger host, we explored every corner of the tiny atoll. We lobster fished at night on the outer reef, and had sharks chew freshly speared fish off the end of my spear. We feasted on massive coconut crabs that were abundant on the tiny islands. We shared our catch every night ashore with friendly potlucks and the carcasses went to the sharks. Apii shared his knowledge of the reef life and sincere smile while James (picture a Polynesian Hagred from harry potter) demonstrated his Bar-BQ skills as these kindly hosts shared this tiny island with us. We found pure fun in that heaven, a thousand kilometers from nowhere.
It is day 5 and we are now 160 miles from Vava’u Tonga, the weather forecast is deteriorating and by tomorrow we will be beating into 25 knots of wind strait on the nose. These passages got old thousands of miles ago. The islands we visit are paradise, the passages between are hell.