French Polynesia to Suwarrow Passage, Day 1

Date: Friday, September 25th 2018 Time: 17:00 UTC Location: 16* 11.2 S, 153* 38.9 W COG: 280* SOG: 5.5 knots Distance to Suwarrow: 577nm 24 hr Distance covered: 136nm
Passage making always leaves time for a little reflection. With our time in French Polynesia run out, it is time to get some miles under the keel toward our hurricane hole destination of New Zealand. We have a whopping 2,100 nm to cover as the bird flies so with a goal (or, I should say our insurance company’s goal) of getting to NZ before December 1, it is time to make tracks.
It was so hard to leave French Polynesia mainly due to our friends off SV Alondra and SV Luminesce. When last I wrote, Alondra had headed off to Bora Bora and it seemed that our kid boat time was up.
With the passage on our mind and a few things on the to-do-before-leaving list, we headed to a boat yard in Ra’iatea called Carenage (I know…bad name), to get some welding done on a few stanchion bases and while there, found we needed even more welding done on our boomvang bracket which attaches it to the mast. Cameron pulled off the boom (again) and pulled off the track (again) and climbed up the mast (again) and put more rivets into the mast to hopefully prevent the mast track from popping off the mast (again). We also replaced all the pins that hold the sail onto their cars (which attach to the mast track and take the sail up and down the mast). The service and help we have received from Tides Marine, the company who builds the mast track we have, has been exceptional.
Happily, while we were anchored out near the boat yard we heard and saw a group of people hailing Banyan from shore. We hopped in the dinghy and we were happy to meet our friends, a lovely family from Alameda, CA off of a beautiful wooden boat called ‘Debonair’. The girls were elated to see their son and daughter and before you knew it, plans were made for sundowners, dinners and adventures on their sailing dinghy. Our time with them was short as they were heading up the east side of Taha’a, a track we had just come from, but it was very sweet to see them again and reconnect.
Happily, our kid boat time was just getting started. We heard from Alondra, who had been skunked by the manta rays on Bora Bora and whose kids were nagging at their parents to come back and keep playing with Banyan. SO! They came!! We kept it as a surprise for the girls and when Alondra pulled in and took the mooring ball next to us by the marina just outside of Uturoa, the girls were screaming with joy to see their friends.
After a good solid provisioning (as this would be our last before our passage), we headed with them down to Faaroa bay. The kids had an amazing time here as there is a little river, the only real river experience to be had in French Polynesia. The kids took the sailing dingy up the river every afternoon after their school and played Huck Finn on the banks, collecting flowers, making forts, inventing worlds and hiding from the warring neighbor tribe (their sisters in the Kayaks). Every evening was a get together with Alondra as we soaked up our time together. When we were just settling on a day for departure we got word from our dear dear friends on SV Luminesce. They had just arrived in Tahiti and were heading our way, hoping to get to us before we departed. After much deliberation and prayer, we decided to delay our departure in order to see our friends.
The last few days have been fun filled. We headed down to Tuatau bay with Alondra to meet Luminesce. It took no time at all for all the girls (all within the ages of 9-12) to find their rhythm. They took daily trips to the nearby motu. They played capture the coconut with the dads, made clay pottery, got to know the local cats and generally ran around and got filthy in the daily drizzle. When they got too filthy, they did some skurfing (surfboard water skiing) and almost every evening was a get together for a meal while the kids all piled into a cabin to watch a movie together. I can’t help feeling that these are the golden moments, the times that we will look back on as the best times. These are the times with cherished friends in pristine places while the kids are still little enough to want to sit and color and make up imaginary worlds with lego, but old enough to have baking competitions and sail up the river on their own. We were very happy to sit out the little weather system that came through and if Luminesce had not been coming and had we left when we first planned to, it may have been a rougher start to our passage. As it is, we left yesterday around midday in some of the best weather we have seen in a week. The seas are large but following and the wind is so far at our backs that we have set the sails in our familiar wing-on-wing configuration. With two reefs in the main we are still making fabulous average speeds (for Banyan).
We are headed to Suwarrow, a very out of the way place. The whole atoll is a national park associated with the Cook Islands. We had to get permission ahead of time through the Cooks, which we did. There is supposed to be only two rangers there typically and the main population is the coconut crab. Cameron has always wanted to see this amazing spot in the world which you can only really see on your own boat as there is only one tour boat a year that comes there. At this rate, we have about 4 or 5 days to go before arrival. Once there, we will explore for a bit, but will have to keep moving on toward Tonga for more provisioning before our jump to NZ.
We will keep up our passage notes so stay tuned!


  1. Laurence & Veronica Donald. says:

    Have a wonderful and safe voyage to the land of the long white cloud. We’ll be thinking of you in our prayers. Hope to catch up in NZ.
    Love to you all. Laurence & Veronica

  2. Sandy ednie says:

    You are correct. These are magical times for your family! So glad you are sharing as you go, the deep memories or dreams of others of us.
    We sailed among the Hawaiian islands, and today are swimming with our grandchildren at our Puako beach house. I have visions of our earlier years, but cannot trade them for these new unfolding lives. So love every day! Tell your strories to us daily. Love Sandy Ednie

  3. Sue & Ed Fish says:

    Absolutely love your stories, and your adventures, and enjoy learning a little about boat life! These are the best years! Although we still have lots of amazing ones. I know you planned this, but your girls are at the perfect age for all of it. We wait for the next adventures from you
    Sue & Ed

    Love, Sue & Ed Fish

  4. ScottGerber says:

    To the BRAVE Crew on Banyan – It’s Scott Gerber from NYC. I worked with your Mom/Wife distributing Paradigm in New York. I love your emails and since I’m a “fair-weather” sailor with a 42 ft Beneteau, I get to be a little jealous reading your words!Be Safe – keep the ink flowing and more pics would be a treat!! We get to experience “ painful politics”, while you’re living a dream!!
    Best Scott ⛵️

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