Sunday, October 6, 2013

An Unusual Development at Penrhyn Atoll

We are close to the end of our second week in Tongareva (Penrhyn atoll.) This has been a very special stop for us because we have had more interaction with the local communities than on most of our other stops, and I will write in more detail about that later. Penrhyn has also been an unusual stop for us because we suddenly find ourselves part of a group of cruisers who are all more or less heading to the same destination and making the same stops along the way.

When we traveled across the South Pacific from east to west a year ago, we were on the heels of most of the American fleet, because we had made a worthwhile but time-consuming detour to the Galapagos before heading to French Polynesia. We did not meet up with many of the boats until we arrived in Tonga, the last stop before New Zealand. This year, as we return from New Zealand to the U.S., most of the boats we meet along the way are heading west; while we are heading east. Here at Penrhyn atoll, however, there are six cruising boats at anchor, all of which---with one exception---are heading to Hawaii via the Line Islands this season. The sixth boat is also ultimately heading to Hawaii, but they are returning via French Polynesia and the Marquesas.

Penrhyn is one of the more remote places we have visited because it is off the main cruising route of boats traveling across the South Pacific. It is the kind of place where perhaps a dozen yachts call throughout an entire year, so having six yachts here at one time---one of them also named Silhouette!---is unexpected. In fact, the customs officer told us there have never been six yachts in the anchorage at one time before. Most boats passing through here on their way east from New Zealand to the United States do so earlier in the season, so it is also a surprise to find so many boats on their way to Hawaii: That is because we are the only late departures from New Zealand; the other boats here departed from French Polynesia, some with plans to return there next season.

Posted from Penrhyn Atoll via Ham Radio.

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