Where in the World is Raven?


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Our summer cruise is now complete. Mike and Carol caught up with Raven in Bora Bora and embarked on a 1,750 mile tour of the South Pacific, cruising first to Penrhyn Atoll in the Cook Islands, and then on to Suwarrow Atoll, and finally to Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga (photo above). Raven is taking a rest in the protected waters of Port of Refuge Harbor. We plan to return in September to swim with the humpback whales – then on to New Zealand where Raven will be offered for sale as we prepare to transfer our cruising lifestyle to the new FPB 64 schedules for completion at the end of 2009.

Tiger Shark Encounter

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d3_20090518_tonga-154.jpgYesterday we headed out of the harbor towards the anchorages, and this morning we decided to move around to a favorite spot called Blue Lagoon – a beautiful circlet of intense blue and turquoise water surrounded by breaking surf, coral reefs, limestone islands and sandy beaches where we were looking forward to a nice snorkel. Also we remembered a resort there from our last Tongan visit where we had enjoyed a delicious dinner – so had hopes of a repeat. Before any of this came about however, Mike spotted an enormous lake of blood staining the surf near the shore of the resort with a few locals knee deep in the water up to something. Always curious, we jumped in our dinghy and buzzed over to take a look.
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Port of Refuge

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2009 South Pacific

We’re safe and sound in Port of Refuge Harbor, Neiafu, Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga. Nothing exciting to report about our 750 mile passage – alternately reading, sleeping, and standing watch 24 hours a day for four days and nights. Good thing we picked up our extra diesel in Penrhyn because for two days the wind was non-existent and we’d probably still be floating around out there without our faithful engine to carry us onwards. En route we crossed the International Dateline so now it is the following Monday here instead of Sunday back home.
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Shark Chumming

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2009 South Pacific

CBParker_D3_20090511_2009-05-11SharkFeed2-061-Edit.jpgWe changed our plans a bit – bad weather was forecast for around Niue that we wanted to avoid, also due to hit Tonga in about six or seven days, so we decided to leave Suwarrow and head straight for Tonga to be sure we were settled in to the very nice safe harbor in Vava’u before the weather hit. We departed Suwarrow Monday afternoon, expecting to arrive in Tonga during the wee hours of Friday morning, except in Tonga it is really Saturday instead of Friday. Gets confusing sometimes – just hope we don’t get mixed up and miss our flight home! We leave on the 26th from Tonga, connect in Samoa the 25th (day before!), then arrive in LA on the 26th, same day we left only earlier!
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Suwarrow Atoll

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2009 South Pacific

CBParker_D3_20090508_SuwarrowUW-117.jpgWe arrived at Suwarrow atoll Thursday morning at the end of the 200 mile passage from Penrhyn – uneventful sailing, light winds, a very comfortable ride. At night the radar screen was so empty it appeared to be broken – not a squall in sight. We did cross paths with the supply ship out of Rarotonga making its rounds of the islands, also passed a large buoy floating free – but nothing else. Nearly a full moon so lots of light on the water all night long.
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Disneyland Underwater

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2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d3_20090429_penrhynuw-247For us Penrhyn’s biggest attraction is underwater. We’ve been in the water constantly on this trip, snorkeling and swimming several times a day and scouting out the site of our next scuba dive. We had already snorkeled through Takuua Passage near our anchorage and wanted to return and dive the pass near high tide when the incoming ocean water turns the lagoon water crystal clear as an aquarium.
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Penrhyn Yacht Record Book

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2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090502_penrhyn-003Tetautua Village maintains a Yacht Record Book – an oversize hardback book with lined blank pages, covered with canvas and stored in a vinyl water resistant bag. Each visiting yacht over the past many years has filled out a page or two in the record book. It’s a blast to read through the old entries filled with photos, sketches, and journals posted by a wide variety of cruisers. Rod came here in 9 years ago on his own sailboat Uwhilna – we found his page and he bemoaned his lost youth as evidenced in the 8-year old photo (poor Rod is now an ancient old man of 42!).
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A Big Fish Tale with an Unhappy Ending

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2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d3_20090429_penrhynuwb-074Rod unpacked his speargun and has started shooting our dinner. He’s a really good spearfisherman, free-diving down and
hitting his target almost every time, with an aim good enough to hit even a small fish in the ideal spot just behind the head near the gills. I follow closely towing the dinghy, because when a fish is speared it is paramount to get it up and out of the water as quickly as possible before the sharks arrive. They know the sound of the spear hitting rock and come around quickly to investigate. If they have a chance to grab the fish on the end of the spear and take off with it, most likely the diver will lose his entire speargun as well as his fish.
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Coconut Crab Brunch

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2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090428_penrhyn-163Our hosts from Tetautua Village have continued to entertain us. This morning we followed our leader OJ by dinghy some four or five miles to the far side of the lagoon, following a curving track to avoid the ever present coral bommies, where the facilities of a bankrupt pearl farm lie abandoned on the western shore. Many of the villagers – men, women and children – had camped out at the pearl farm overnight for a coconut crab hunt, baiting the enormous blue crabs in the night with fresh coconut meat and then snatching them up and tossing them into an empty oil drum. This takes some finesse, as the crabs can easily snap off a finger with their powerful claws.
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Milkfish Picnic

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2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090425_tetautua-149For Saturday afternoon’s activity, our village patriarch (named OJ) had also invited us to join his family on a milkfish outing which we later realized was an event put on especially for us (and all visiting yachties) to introduce outsiders to the Cook Island way of life. Shedding our church-going clothes and getting back into our familiar swimsuits and shorts we joined together again, this time on the beach, to take part in a big family picnic.
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