The Cooks were originally called the Hervey Islands. In 1835 the islands were renamed by a Russian cartographer, in honour of the greatest navigator!
19th August 2007
After much hesitation because of the weather, finally we left Bora Bora to Rarotonga. This time the weather was becalmed, but it was time to leave before the next big depression came through. Resolve left the day before and we left together with Kyrie.
20th August 2007
Noticeably we are leaving the tropics, the sky is over casted, it is drizzly and colder. The winds are variable ranging from no wind at all to too much wind. Radio communication with Kyrie has been lost. Noel and Nat are taking a more Southern route and twenty miles away.
22nd August 2007
It has been raining the whole day, the clouds dissipated for a short while; this is when we first saw land, just before sunset. Now we regained radio contact with Kyrie, who were 6 miles behind. Early evening we also made contact with Terry, already in the harbour. He assured us that it is an easy entrance to the harbour during night, with leading lights. We entered the harbour at almost midnight, guided by Terry and his spotlights. Kyrie came in one hour after us and we waited to help them in. Once the hook was firmly in the ground and everybody safe we felt exhausted.
Since we made landfall during dark, the anchor was dropped in the middle of the harbour. Now Nomad Life had to be moored "Tahitian style" to the wall. This was a first-hand experience. It involved dropping the anchor and reversing the boat near the wall, where mooring lines secured each side. Despite having two dinghies helping us and Terry on the wall to take the lines it was a very stressful manoeuvre. However once we stepped onto land all was forgotten with the warm welcome received from Rori and Madi.
Despite exhausted we did go out on one of the island nights, couldn't miss to see the best dancers in the whole Polynesia and find out why they have this reputation. The drum dances, the costumes and the chants were spectacular. After the dance presentation, it was Natalie's time to entertain. She did get all those bored looking tourist on the dance floor!
Saturday is market day, Punanga market starts at six in the morning , far too early for us. The market is a blaze of colours, with pareu (sarongs), hand crafts, local food, fresh vegetables, tattoo studios. We cured our hangovers with a delicious chicken curry. Since our arrival it has been raining torrentially, giving us not much to do other than socialize with yachties. This time we were invited for our second chicken curry of the day on Resolve.
Religion plays a strong part on people’s lives in this island. Commerce is closed on Sunday, which is a traditional family and church day, we are not allowed to work on the boat that day either. Most of the church services are in Maori, with beautiful singing. That alone did not attract the boys to the church, but us girls received a very warm welcome. After the service they presented us with a big buffet. There were about twenty visitors in the Sunday Mass, including students from an American university who came to experience a different culture.
Finally the sun came out giving us a chance to go around the island. We rented a van big enough to fit Linn, Terry, Noel, Nat, Graham and I. The island is bordered by a reef and cobalt coloured lagoons, and ringed by white beaches. The Wigmore's fall is a cascade dropping into a fresh swimming pool. Natalie was brave enough to get into the pool, too cold and mosquito infested for the rest of us. Apparently it can dry to treacle in hot weather. Linn fancied getting a tattoo so we paid a visit to "T's" studio. His name is Tetini Pekepo and the sign outside his studio describes tattoos as: "Visible Marks of Life's Journey". He designs tattoo’s based on your individual story. Consequently, Tetini only designs huge tattoos covering big part of the body, not quite what Linn wanted. As we circumnavigated the island we were amazed by the number of churches in excess of 70.
Madi and Rory wished us farewell on our departure. They were so pleased with our visit to Rarotonga, that we were presented with leaving gifts! Black pearls and bags of fruits. We couldn't believe the generosity and friendliness of the Rarotongans, it certainly made us feel sad to leave!
The weather has settled so we left mid-morning to Aitutaki. This island is 140 miles north of Rarotonga. We only decided to sail to Aitutaki the day before, lured by the nice sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Resolve left few hours before and we left just before Kyrie. Good winds of 18-22 knots followed us all day making it a fast passage. After catching the third mahi-mahi of the day, Resolve stopped fishing. Now we had a reason for a beach barbecue on our arrival.
The wind kept constant all the way, we made land fall at midday. The artificial pass into the lagoon is only suitable at high water for yachts drawing two metres. We arrived at the right time, but the pass looked very narrow and there was a lot of current at the mouth, in doubt we anchored outside. Kyrie arrived shortly after us and Resolve took another couple of hours. Watching the entrance during the afternoon, we realized that Nomad Life could have got in, outside was a rolly anchorage, it would be a lot nicer and protected inside. Dinner was mahi-mahi on a BBQ at Kyrie's, followed by an early night.
On a spur of the moment Kyrie decided to leave to Tonga, Kyrie has a very deep keel and could not enter the lagoon. Also Noel and Nat were not sure to leave the boat unattended outside in the open ocean. Meanwhile Resolve and we were preparing our nerves to motor through the pass and enter in to the lagoon. Heading deeper into the channel the depth disappeared and keel scrapped the sand, which was good as it cleaned off the barnacles. As it was rising tide, this was not a problem. After avoiding the reefs we finally were at the anchorage.
However it was very crowded with yachts, limited by depth and narrow. With the help of other yachties and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts we were anchored in a safe and sound spot. The first time we went aground on the sand and second attempt resulted in anchoring to close to another boat. What a job. Thanks to Christian and Ricky for helping us.
It rained constantly during the last couple of days. We managed to go ashore only once, partly due to the weather but also our dinghy has a puncture. Listening to Southern Cross net on SSB, Terry told us that Kyrie was two hundred miles on route, seeing fifty knots of wind and running bare poles, yet doing seven knots.
Finally the skies cleared and the sun came out. But it wasn't our chance to go island exploring. Early morning Terry spoke to us on VHF. There was a good weather window ahead and it was a good time to leave. The seas still big due to the front that passed but the wind had decreased. Reluctantly we got ready to leave in the afternoon at 4 pm. At high tide we lifted the anchor and headed to the pass. The sky was clouded over, without the sun it was difficult to see the reefs. Unfortunately we dug ourselves on a sand bank. Graham reversed but there was no movement on the boat. Meantime the current was sweeping us closer to the reef. Graham reversed again; slowly we got movement and found the deeper part of the channel. By the time we reached open water, both were shaken. Our next main concern was that the weather held on for the next five days, until we get to Niue.