Niue (new-ay) is one of the smallest independent nation, with a little help from New Zealand. Also one of the worlds largest raised coral atoll (Makatea).
After 5 days of an uncomfortable and painfully slow passage we arrived at 3 pm. The weather was fine all the way, with 10-16 knots of wind and moderate seas. Unfortunately we were on a run, which is the worst point of sail for Nomad Life, slow and rolly. Alofi Yacht Club has 15 mooring buoys, we knew there were 6 spare but with 7 boats arriving, we decided to use the engine for the last few hours.
Niue is famous for the sea snakes (sea Kraits), as we picked the buoy up 2 came to see us. They are semi blind, very inquisitive but HIGHLY venomous. Luckily their fangs are at the back of the throat so almost totally unable to bite humans.
The water has a beautiful dark blue colour and good visibility; we can see the bottom from 15m. After securing Nomad Life on a buoy, we went ashore. The dinghy still has a slow puncture, so we had to keep pumping it up as we went along. There isn't a dinghy dock in Alofi so you have to take the dinghy to the wharf wall, where there is a crane that used to lift the dinghy up onto the wall.
Once the dinghy was docked on the wall, we completed formalities with customs and immigrations. The authorities are very protective of their environment; meat onboard has to be declared with customs. Then we headed to the yacht club and met up with the other yachts that arrived, Robyn's Nest and Chica Bonita. We also found out that there is a great diving spot just under our boat, a huge chasm that goes down 30m . Later that night we saw the underwater light of a diver next to our boat.
The Yacht Club staff is unbelievable friendly and welcoming. The Commodore, Keith, drove all newcomers around Alofi pointing out the shops and places to visit. The town is spread out for miles near the coast. Keith also told us about the devastation that cyclone Heta caused in 2004. Houses near the waterfront had been washed away, 30 metres above sea level.
As everything in town is quite spread out, we borrowed bicycles from the Yacht Club to get to the veggie and fish market. The island is flat so we had a lot of fun riding around. Fish is the cheapest food around here, for 10 NZ dollars we bought one kilo of fresh Wahoo . Everything else is imported and frozen.
Another four boats arrived today; the harbour is very busy with boats. All the new arrivals had to anchor as there are no more mooring buoys left, not the best solution as the sea bottom is rocky. In the evening all yachties gathered at the Yacht Club for a BBQ , it was a great night.
Together with Terry and Linn we rented a car for the day. The Rugby World Cup was on early morning so we headed to Matavai Resort to watch it. It was South Africa against England, unfortunately England were totally crap losing 36-0. I was very surprised to find that Brazilians are spread all over the world, including Nuie. Luiza, who works at the resort was the only Brasilian living in the island, she was so glad to have a chance to speak Portuguese for once . After the match we went to Togo Chasm, Avatele beach for a snorkel with the sea snakes, then to Avaiki and Limu Pools. The island looks like a ghost town; most of the houses have been abandoned and now are falling apart. Since the airport was built a lot of the locals left to New Zealand. Now only 1400 people live in the island.
The weather was good for the next couple of days, so it was time to leave. Whilst having a cup of coffee early morning, a huge whale popped up just hundred metres away from the boat. Between June and October, Niue is the breeding home of the humpback whales. Then we heard Checkmate on the radio. Tony just arrived from Palmerston and was very pleased to see us here; we have not seen him for 7 months, since the Caribbean. So we postponed our departure for tomorrow.
Our next and last stop before New Zealand is Tonga, 240 miles due west. The weather forecast for the next few days is light winds.