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s/v Sand Dollar
Sunday, August 12, 2007 - Day 1 of Passage: Smooth Sailing
08/12/2007, En Route to Suwarrow Atoll, Northern Cook Islands

The wind has been consistently at 12-15 knots making for pleasant sailing and adequate speed to make Suwarrow by Tuesday. The noon- to-noon distance was 121 miles for an average speed of 5.0 kts. The sea is a bit lumpy but not uncomfortable as long as I maintain boat speed to minimize rolling.

A huge fish was hooked at daybreak, probably a yellowfin tuna. True to form, I lost him near the boat when the 100 lb test monofilament leader parted as the fish made one last attempt at escape and dragged the line across the windvane self-steering apparatus. I then decided to change the leader to 400 lb stainless steel cable. Lures are expensive and in limited supply. There was no other action the rest of the day. It would sure be nice to arrive at my destination with tuna fillets to distribute among the fleet which usually means a couple of dinner invitations.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 - Departure for Suwarrow
08/11/2007, En Route to Suwarrow Atoll, Northern Cook Islands

Sand Dollar slipped its mooring this morning and departed Penrhyn Atoll bound for Suwarrow Atoll 393 miles to the southwest. The passage will take three days if winds are at least 10 knots. At present the wind is east-southeast at 12 knots on the port quarter and the boat is making 5.2 kts. which will put me into Suwarrow Tuesday afternoon.

Suwarrow Atoll is uninhabited except for a caretaker placed there by the Cook Islands government. The island is a national park, is protected and is frequented by cruisers on their way from Bora Bora to Pago Pago, American Samoa. There are no facilities except for the caretaker's hut and a place on the beach for barbecues. I expect to see at least half a dozen other boats there.

All else is well onboard. The weather is pleasant, the skies partly cloudy and no rain squalls yet today.

Friday, August 10, 2007 - Last Day in Penrhyn
08/10/2007, Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands

With some regret, tomorrow I will depart Penrhyn Atoll for Suwarrow Atoll which is 390 miles to the southwest. The past 11 days here have been some of the best on the cruise. I have spent much of my time with Mike Grubnau and his fishing guides Baar and Micky at the pearl farm. Although the bonefishing was not up to my expectations I enjoyed the company, the fine meals from the outdoor kitchen and the beautiful scenery. I learned about pearl farming, coconut crabs, and Pacific island politics. Perhaps I will hook up with Mike and the boys in New Zealand next summer.

Thursday, August 9, 2007 - Sailfish Landed
08/09/2007, Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands

Today was too windy for fly fishing in the lagoon so Mike and I took a small boat out through the pass and trolled for several hours trying to hook a wahoo or tuna for the dinner table. We had strikes from five sailfish, landed an 80 pounder and a medium sized blue-fin trevally. The locals say when the sailfish are in the tuna and wahoo are nowhere to be found. The sailfish we gave to a local family but the trevally we kept. Tomorrow we will try again for tuna.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 - Coconut Crabs
08/08/2007, Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands

The bonefish were not biting today so, instead, we went hunting for coconut crabs. Three good-sized specimens were found under some coconut trees and cooked for dinner. I found them to be much like our dungeness crab but perhaps not quite as sweet. Nevertheless, it was delicious fare and the price was right. We finished off the last bottle of Bordeaux which I had brought from Tahiti. The cheap Mexican rum is still in the bilge where it may remain for a long time.

All else is well onboard. The weather was settled today except for a brief rain squall late this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - Parade of Rain Squalls
08/07/2007, Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands

The weather has been terrible for the past 24 hours. Dozens of rain squalls have come from the southeast bringing high winds, heavy seas and lots of rain. I have not left the boat for fear it will be blown on to the beach. So far, though, the mooring to which Sand Dollar is attached is holding up and I have an anchor out just in case the mooring line parts. I am hoping tomorrow brings more settled weather so I can go fishing or snorkeling.

Another Seattle boat, "Bold Spirit" with Jeff and Kathy onboard, arrived this afternoon and is anchored outside of the pass waiting for the weather to change before entering the lagoon. I first met Jeff and Kathy a year and a half ago coming down the California coast. Their plan is to go north to Hawaii in September and then return to French Polynesia in April for another season there.

All else is well onboard. Tomorrow I will receive a loaf of fresh-baked bread from the village.

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Sand Dollar
Who: Don Pratten
Port: Beaux Arts, WA
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