Helllo out there...Currently en route from Palmerston atoll to Beveridge Reef in light winds and calmish seas. We left Palmerston Fri afternoon and were able to sail nicely for about 28 hrs with 20-25 k winds but behind us so pretty comfortable. Seas were reasonable which made for a much more enjoyable passage than the last few. By dinner toniight the winds had died so we are now motorsailing for the last 12 -14 hrs. Should reach Beveridge at light Sun morn. We are travelling with 4 other boats on this leg which has been different...neat to see sails in the day and lights at night only a couple of miles away...also reason to pay more attention!!! This convoy heading to Beveridge should prove interesting as there is nowhere to go besides on the boats. There is no land there...just the reef so we will be on board or in the water the whole time Trying to figure out the logistics of socializing with 14 people with this scenario but at least hoping for some good diving for a couple of days. Can only stay there in very settled weather so will most likely be a 3-4 day stop before heading to Niue.
Palmerston proved to be an interesting stop. It is a small atoll in the Southern Cook Islands which is English speaking tho' the dialect gave us a few problems. Kind of under the auspices of New Zealand. They use the NZ dollar tho' it did not matter as there is nothing to spend your money on anyway. These folks live off the fish they catch and what stores they can lay in when the supply ship comes which is only every 6-8 months...talk about basic. However they were very friendly and hospitable. Actually the cruisers have become their lifeblood with civilization and bring goods to trade and share so we are really welcomed.
There are currently 67 people living there...probably in about 8-10 households (lots of kids per family). I think we heard that 30 kids attend the 1 room schoolhouse. They seem to place education as a priority and use an American program called ACE...accelerated Christian education...definitely no division of church and school exists as we saw many references to Jesus Christ and God within the teaching program and curiculum. The kids seemed bright and well spoken so at least that is a positive. They do have internet which I am sure has changed their reality alot. Story is that one man, William Marsters settled here with a Polynesian wife and two cousins who he also had as "wives" tho they were not ever married. The familiies there now are all descendants of these three famililes and trace their lineage to the three women so there are 3 distinct clans.They all have the last name of Marsters! You must marry outside your own clan...to either one of the other families or an outsider. You then belong to the family you have married into. There is a bit of a territorial aspect to all of this and we were each hosted by a family who then had "rights" to us. They took us under their wings while we were there...transporting us in and out of the anchorage thru the pass in their skiffs and feeding us on the island. We had one lunch with all the boats (there were 8 there at the same time) tho' our hosts would not eat with us...oinly after we had finished so some odd customs. They gave us all tours and talked about the history of Palmerston with great pride. Very interesting...Gram said he kept hearing banjos!!
Friday morning Bill and I went on a dive before we left Palmerston. Gram did not feel well so stayed on board. It was a great dive...right off the boat and down the wall of the reef to about 65 or 70 ft. Drop dead gorgeous coral...there were lilac and turquoise patches and even a lime green one that we had never seen before. Good fish and the highlight was a huge turtle that swam with us for awhile. His shell was about 6 ft long and then there were his legs,arms,head and tail so he was a big guy!! Very regal and very cool. Gram had a high fever over the night so we got to experience crusing with only 2 to cover the watch schedule...definitley alot more tiring. Finally by dinner tonight he seems to be on the mend so hopefully will be ready and rearing to go once we reach Beveridge...Well time for me to turn over my watch and get a little more sleep.