After motoring along in flat seas we decided, with Red Sky to pull into Palmerston Atoll. An absolutely stunning atoll surrounded by white sandy beaches and palm trees.
There are moorings available, but they are in disrepair as they only get a ship once every 6 months and cannot get the necessary gear to up keep the moorings.
The local officials come out to check us in and to have a chat.
It cost $80 to clear in for two days, but the same price if we wanted to stay a month!! They then took us ashore. We are not permitted to take our own dinghy into the atoll. They keep it pristine!
We spent a nervous night with light westerly winds which had us on a lee shore against a coral reef. The wind finally swung to the south early evening which was a little better. Very rolly! We were advised to put our anchor down as well..except the sea floor was nothing but layers of coral; very beautiful but we were worried we would not be able to retrieve our anchor.
Palmerston has an interesting history with a Lancashireman, William Masters, who settled here in 1862 with 3 wives. Direct descendants live there today, with the total population being 70 people. Such a wonderful experience to have met them. We only stayed two days as the wind was favourable to head west.
We were invited ashore for lunch
and a tour around the village. There was the remains of a yacht there that ended up on the reef last year. It re-enforced our idea of a short stay!!
Two glorious days and nights of full moon and sailing with the wind on our beam and calm seas, doing between 6 and 8 knots constantly. My how the miles tick by!!!! The forecast for Tonga was a little bleak, with a trough moving over Vava'u when we would be making a night entry. The wind had died and we had a frustrating day, so we decided to pull into Niue, the smallest nation in the world. It is independent from NZ but supported by their government.
Unfortunately, with the wind in the NE and the trough expected here as well, we can only stay a few days as this is another anchorage exposed to the north and west! We arrived at 0400 yesterday morning, so we are quite tired. So far it looks wonderful. The people are just so nice. It has an airstrip,so tourists can come here, unlike Palmerston which is only accessible by boat.
The engine continues to be problematic. The shaft fell out again!!! It has been worn by the previous owner running the engine whilst out of alignment. We now have diesel getting into the oil somehow..injectors?? The secondary alternator burnt out. Something else we had fixed in Mexico that has failed!!! Frequent oil changes will handle the former.
Tonga is a mere 230 miles away, then Fiji another 400 or so. We will have time to get some things fixed in Fiji. Roll on Australia!!!
Whilst we were motoring to Palmerston we had an amazing encounter with some humpback whales. They had come to check us out and a baby, half the size of Stolen Kiss leapt completely out of the water only 4m away! you think we didn't get a surprise!! The adults came up to the stern to take a look at us then they were breaching next to us as well. We got out of there!!! We also had a female and her young calf come up to us in the anchorage in Palmerston.
We are sailing with Red Sky, and with wind over 15 knots, we sail well together. Leanne and John are good company.
We have two days to explore Niue but are also ready to depart if the anchorage becomes untenable.
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com