Yesterday we reluctantly prised ourselves away from Penrhyn for the 850 mile passage to Apia in Samoa. We could easily have spent a month there, but the weather outlook appears promising and there's still a lot to see (and miles to cover) before we head to New Zealand for the hurricane season. We planned to leave with Noa, but found our anchor chain caught under a coral ledge. After trying various untangling maneuvers we accepted the inevitable and dived to free the chain by hand. It was a fortunate that we'd become accustomed to swimming alongside black and white tip sharks during our stay as I barely noticed their presence circling not far from the offending coral head - I don't think I'd have been quite so oblivious a week ago.
By the time the chain was freed the sun was high in the sky, making it straightforward to spot the isolated coral patches on our trip back across the lagoon. As we approached the pass, it became clear that the tide was rapidly ebbing out of the lagoon and once caught by the flow there was little we could do other than aim for the deeper water in the middle and enjoy the swift ride out. Another yacht was anchored outside, waiting for slack water - she'll be the fifteenth boat to visit Penrhyn this year - a bumper year. We wished them an enjoyable stay and set course for Apia.
We've had a pleasant but slow trip so far, the sea is calm, the wind is around 8-10 knots and we've been making 3-5knots running goose-winged under full main and poled-out genoa. We were welcomed back into deep waters by a large pod of white-nosed dolphins and we landed a large tuna around sunset yesterday.
Its the first time we've had to use the gaff to land a fish. We bought the gaff way back in Gibraltar and its been patiently rusting away waiting for its moment of glory. Although we haven't been short of fresh fish during our stay, its great to start the passage with the fridge full of fish and break open the wasabi and soy sauce once again.
Position at 7.30 local time (GMT-10): S9deg 25' W159deg 27'
Distance to Apia: 769