January 15

This morning we finally left Pohnpei. It was difficult though. After the passage here from Majuro and the Tropical Storm we endured, we were both a bit gun-shy about leaving the secure harbor we were comfortably anchored in. But, reality took hold finally and at 7am the captain began the process of scrubbing the chain, 3 ft at a time. The harbor is overflowing with algae and sea-life and a good bit of it attached itself to our anchor chain. The we raised the anchor and motored over to the commercial pier for customs and immigration clearance. Unlike most countries we have visited, the FSM requires all vessels to tie up to the pier for clearance. In other countries (most other) these formalities can be completed at the offices of the appropriate officials. This is advantageous for us since it means we can complete formalities and then leave whenever we like, within reason. In Pohnpei you have to leave right then after the paperwork is done.

The skies were about 85% overcast when we left the main pass. Wind was about 10-12k from the ENE and seas were calm with a 6-8ft swell from the NE. We motored a bit to get clear of the island and find our course then we tried to sail, dead downwind (again) and found we could barely make 3.5k. We motored most of the day, with a brief period of sailing when a rain squall shifted the wind to the South and increased its strength to 15k. At 6pm we are motor-sailing again with the main (double reefed because it is cut wrong and won’t set properly when fully deployed, though we are working on a temporary solution to this until we get our new, new sail in Palau) and making about 5.2k over ground. Winds are between 6-10k from the ESE and seas are calm with a NE swell of no more then 6ft. Skies are mostly cloudy with occasional light rain showers.

Our goal is Lukunor Atoll which lies about 280 miles WSW of Pohnpei. The atoll is part of Chuuk State and thus part of the FSM. We have 238 miles to run and right now, if we can keep our speed up to 5k or better (which will almost certainly require us to motor sail most or all of the way) we will arrive in the late afternoon on Monday. We are turning the engine at about 1800 rpm which is our normal cruising speed, though when motor sailing we normally can run much slower and get better speed, but we believe we are in the Equatorial Counter Current, an East flowing current which seems to meander between 5N and 7N latitude all the way from one end of the Pacific to the other (though it is supposed to be weaker the further West you go, but in an El Nino year, this may not hold).