French Polynesia to Suwarrow Passage – Day 5

Date: Saturday, September 29th 2018 Time: 17:00 UTC Location: 13°33.29′ S, 161°38.37′ W COG 283° T SOG: 4.7 kts Distance to the Suwarrow: 88 nm 24hr Distance covered: 112 nm
Cameron here…….. Just 88 miles to go! We’ll probably be able to see Suwarrow before daybreak tomorrow. We’ll slow down as much as needed to allow Annie to get her rest since she will have just come off watch at 4:30am. We also like to enter these passes between 10:00 and 14:00 (2pm) when the sun is overhead. It makes it easier to see the coral heads and shallow water. There are not any formal channel markings into Suwarrow as there are typically less than 200 boats a year that make this journey. We have heard it’s pretty easy to enter but we won’t take any chances.
Our next step after entering will be find a good place to anchor. We’ve heard some horror stories about the coral heads in the anchorage; rumor has it they are real chain grabbers. A cruiser lost his boat a couple years ago in that anchorage when his anchor chain grabbed a coral head directly below him and the force of the waves pulling the boat up snapped the chain. This is what is called becoming short scoped. We typically use multiple pearl farm buoys in situations like this to buoy our chain. It ensures that even if you do wrap a coral head or two you never end up in a “short scope” situation. The pearl farm buoy technique was developed by cruisers in the Tuamotus and has been adopted by many. You can find the buoys often littering the beaches in the Tuamotus. We had one float right past us when snorkeling in a pass back in Fakarava. That was a score!
Suwarrow will be our first Cook Islands entry so we’ll be flying our yellow “Q” (Quarantine) flag to signify that we wish to enter the country. After checking in, that flag will come down and our Cook Islands courtesy flag will go up. Annie and Isa have been diligently sewing that for a couple days on this passage. Annie was a real trooper to tackle that as her first homemade flag. It contains the Union Jack and 15 stars (that means two Union Jacks and 30 stars to fill out both sides). That’s my girl!
This is SV Banyan, signing off
P.S. We have been able to see your comments from previous posts! Thanks for leaving your messages, all!! It means a ton to us to see you are wishing us well. I wish I could respond to each one but I haven’t sorted that out via email yet and for some reason, I just can’t seem to get a signal from out here:) Since we are off shore and only using email via the Single Sideband Radio, there are no photos until we get to Tonga. I am storing them up and will add them when we get to decent WiFi.


  1. Michele Herald says:

    Sounds exciting …I have never heard about Suwarrow, so I googled some photos – it looks amazing – I’m so jealous!!
    Good luck & safe travels.

  2. Barbara Vawter says:

    Banyon and Crew are amazing! Thank you for great updates, you help us visualize your challenges & success. God Speed & Guidance along the way. Love & Prayers

  3. Elizabeth Vianna says:

    Wishing you a safe arrival to Cook Islands! So impressed with you all and your adventurous spirit – what a family and what a team! Love reading your posts!

  4. Phil Burton says:

    I don’t comment often but I look forward to your posts- what an amazing voyage. I used to sail years ago and have spent time in the Cooks so reading your notes takes me back with a smile. My best to you and the family. Phil

  5. Julie Spencer says:

    Thanks for sharing!! Like Phil who recently commented, I love reading your posts although don’t often send comments. I too am a sailor, and applaud you for providing such life changing opportunities for your daughters and yourselves. Your thoughtful and informative posts spark fond memories of amazing adventures and real challenges during my six year circumnavigation long long ago … so many lessons learned still enriching my life today. Fair winds! You’re in for a treat in Tonga!

  6. John Livingston says:

    I keep my world atlas nearby to follow your exotic itinerary… a vicarious journey for sure. Enjoy the Cook Islands! John and Daine

  7. Rachel Wheeler says:

    Love that you try to post everyday when you’re out to “sail”. Enjoy every one of them. Hope the “anchoring” goes smooth

  8. Becky Baker says:

    Hi all! I get excited to see a new post come through in my email! I too, google many of the places you have traveled to and around to follow your amazing journey! On a recent flight, my seat neighbor was traveling back home from a trip to Tonga!

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