Day 272, Year 1: The Squash Zone
Date: Sunday, July 16, 2006
Weather: E 25-35; Seas 10-12 feet; Blue Skies and Sunny
Air and Water Temperature: 77 degrees F (cooling down)
Latitude: 19 degrees 32 minutes South
Longitude: 155 degrees 55 minutes West
Location: Transit from Raiatea to Rarotonga, Day 3
Miles to Go: 233
As I predicted, last night was boisterous. The morning light always seems to calm the waters, but as the day progressed, so did the wind and the waves. We are in what is called a “squash zone”. There is a strong ridge of high pressure to our east and a trough associated with a low pressure system moving toward us from the west. The low was supposed to move SE, but it didn’t. As we go further southwest our winds should start clocking to the north and then to the northwest. And once we go through the weather system, the winds will drop to almost nothing. Right now, it doesn’t look like that will happen until late tomorrow. We can’t enter the only harbor on the island of Rarotonga when there are north winds, so we sure hope we are through this by the time we arrive there on Tuesday morning.
We have adjusted our course a little to the south so that the strong winds are behind us. We rock and roll a bit, but it has been very comfortable. Moving about for me is not easy, but I am hanging in there.
I think I mentioned in an earlier log that our destination, Rarotonga, is in the Cook Islands. Captain Cook never set foot on Rarotonga, but he did visit Atiu, just north of Rarotonga, and called the islands “detached parts of the earth”. The Pitcairn-bound ship, Bounty, is thought to be the first European visitor to Rarotonga in 1779. The mutineers brought the first orange tree seeds to this part of the world. Rarotonga is a high island and is sometimes compared to Moorea in the Society Islands, although it is only half the size. It is only 32 kilometers all the way around. Most of the islanders speak English, as well as their form of Polynesian. They have a relationship with New Zealand and NZ currency is used there. We have much to learn about this island and can’t wait to start exploring. We know the local greeting is kia orana (may you live on), thank you is meitaki (may-ee-tock-ee), cheers! is kia manuia! (kee-uh mon-wee-ah), and goodbye is aere ra (ah-ay-ray rah).