Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

SAILING THROUGH PARADISE, Log #10

August 29, 1997 2000
13.18S, 157.11W Log: 7562 Water and Air: 84.6 F
Enroute from Rarotonga to Penrhyn, Cook Islands, 262 miles to go
Winds SSE 13kts, sailing wing and wing @ 5kts

Magical Night Under the Southern Cross

Tonight is one of those nights you might dream of. The brilliance of the Milky Way undimmed by shoreside lights, the Southern Cross astern, the night is warm, and most of Mahina Tiare's crew is in still in the cockpit, even though it's been dark for over an hour. One of our Cape Horn crew last year gave us a folk-song sing-along book and our talented crew spent an hour after dinner singing as the sun set dramatically in the west. It's been a day that no one wanted to end - winds never over 15 or under 8, we've been able to sail most of the day.

This afternoon we stopped for a nice long swim - stopping Mahina Tiare by heaving-to, deploying our Lifesling and an extra safety line, everyone took turns swimming laps around the boat or just enjoying the near bathtub temperature water. Tonight it was Bee Dietz's turn in the galley and she cooked our recently-caught wahoo in the hottest Korean sauce one could imagine. Along with a creative fresh salad and fruit, this was one of our finest meals yet!

Our Leg 4 crew are: Neil and Dianna Simpson, 43 and 39 from Spokane, WA where Neil is a commercial building general contractor and Dianna is a health unit coordinator. Their children are both 20 and they sail a Catalina 36 out of Anacortes.

Jeff McCollum, 46 is a "full-time father and part-time lawyer and judge" from Medford, OR whose wife is a school district administrator and couldn't get away for this trip. Their kids are 15 and 13.

Garry Wride, 65 of Los Altos, CA is a semi-retired satellite systems consultant who sails his Cat. 27 out of Oakland Y.C. and thanks his loving wife Nancy for letting him join us for this adventure of a lifetime.

Bob and Dee Dietz, 66 and 60 are retired research physicist and technical writers, respectively whose children are 36 and 37 with one new grandchild.

Today's teaching schedule was a full one. Amanda taught rig tuning and check, and I went through programming our new Furuno weatherfax, selecting and interpreting the charts, use of Pilot Charts and Books, Light Lists and calculating slack water at Penrhyn's coral pass. The winds have been lighter than usual on this 740 mi passage due North to Penrhyn. We motored for a few hours, topping up our 1300+amp battery storage capacity and running our PUR 160 gpd watermaker until the tanks were over flowing, so everyone took serious showers after swimming and there was even water left over for washing clothes!

We are all looking forward to our arrival at Penrhyn, hopefully by late Sunday afternoon. We will be picking up our good friend, Dr. Wolfgang Losacker upon arrival at Penrhyn and after he completes his medical survey in Omoka Village, taking him across the lagoon to my favorite village, Tetautua, then on to Manihiki. This will be the fourth time since 1982 that Mahina Tiare has taken Dr. Losacker to the isolated outer villages on Penrhyn, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Puka Puka to conduct clinics and his medical survey among these isolated, doctor-less islands.

Sept 4, 1997, 0700 Penrhyn Lagoon, 8.57S, 157.55W Water 84.4, Air 78F We've had so many adventures since arrival Sun. afternoon, I'll just touch on yesterdays. Dr. Losackers clinics are going well, today he completes seeing the adults from Tetautua. All together he will examined most of Penrhyn's 450 islanders. We have presented toothbrushes (thanks to Dr. Cheryl Rice, Leg 6, 1997 and Leg 1, 1994) to all of the schoolchildren and Dr. Losacker has given instructions to each class which will brush their teeth in the lagoon after lunch daily. This is a program he started 15 years ago and the difference in dental health (on an island where there are no dentists) has improved markedly.


Dr. Losacker's dental exams, Penrhyn Island.


Dr. Losacker and nurse checking heart and lungs.

Yesterday morning Amanda taught our expedition members how to take apart, clean and lubricate three different types of winches, then showed them how to splice yachtbraid line. Following that each crew member made two different types of sail repairs with needle and thread on part of old sail. Today will be splicing three-strand line and celestial navigation and rigging the storm sails are the only remaining items on our teaching goals list. After our morning learning time and lunch, crew headed ashore to continue visiting and exploring this picturesque village of 125. Saitu Marsters, island council member and ex-Penrhyn mayor offered to take our entire crew out to the "summer village" on a motu a few miles away by one of the three passes. Snorkeling with sharks among beautiful coral gardens, exploring an uninhabited village of thatch huts on lagoon edges made a full afternoon.

Meanwhile aboard Mahina Tiare, Amanda rigged up the windsurfer and we took turns with Dr. Losacker, racing across the turquoise lagoon with coral heads and tropical fish clearly visible below. Later in the afternoon my long-time friend Faira Nikau brought Elizabeth, his 18 yr. old daughter and Aloha, his daughter-in-law over to try out the windsurfer. They had been watching Amanda screaming across the lagoon and were dying for a try! They did well, first, sitting on the back of the board, then standing with Amanda, then on their own. We told Faira that if his new pearl farm takes off, his kids are sure to want a windsurfer!

The entire Nikau family came for a barbecue dinner and wonderful evening of singing and dancing. Bee purchased a Cook Island dance and drum CD that proved the perfect background. Several of Faira's children have won competitions for singing and dancing and their songs in Maori and English were beautiful.


Elizabeth Nikau dancing after barbecue aboard MT III.

This morning after Dr. Losacker completes his clinic we will be sailing back across the lagoon to Omoka, picking up hats, fans and bread previously ordered and setting sail for Manihiki, 200 miles away. Penrhyn's gold pearls, found nowhere else in the world have captivated our crew. New on the scene here are cultured black pearls, first introduced in Tahiti 20 years ago, Penrhyn's first black pearl harvest is now underway and nearly all of the islanders are busy establishing or expanding their "farms". It looks like this budding industry may provide an incentive to keep some of the young people from leaving the island for Rarotonga or New Zealand. Similar ventures started on Manihiki 15 years ago have proven extremely successful with pearl export becoming an important part of the economy.


John Neal, Penrhyn's schoolteachers and Dr. Losacker handing out toothbrushes.

Sept. 5, 1997 1430 10.07S, 160.33W Log 8036 Water 84.0, Air 86.0
Enroute Penrhyn-Manihiki, 30 miles to go
Winds SE 17-20, broad reaching at 7.8kts

Leaving these islands and friends is always hard, and yesterday wasn't an exception. Our crew were all taken by the friendly generosity and openness of Tetautua Village and especially the one very-talented schoolteacher for the 25 children. Working with very limited supplies she is doing an amazing job. We have decided to go in together on a subscription to National Geographic for the school and Jeff is hoping his wife who is a school principal in Medford can set up a sister-school relationship with penpal letters and surplus books sent to Penrhyn, similar to what we set up through expedition member Al Maher on Manihiki last visit.

Fresh trades pushed us on our way so nicely that it looks like we will make landfall and possibly anchor tonight just before dusk. Manihiki is rarely visited by yachts because there isn't a pass into the closed lagoon. We will anchor in the lee of the island and take turns standing anchor watches 24hr. a day.

To The Next Log Entry: Log #11 - 10/20/97

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