Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands and is where government resides. Circular, and only 32 km in circumference, it is dominated by high mountain peaks from which lush rain forests provide a dramatic backdrop to a palm-fringed shore.
The island is almost completely encircled by a reef, however there is no navigable lagoon, or free anchoring here. Avatiu Harbour underwent a huge harbour realignment and dredging project to straighten the east quay and dredge the basin to 10m. This project was completed at the end of 2012 and the harbour has now re-opened to visIting yachts.
The end result is a better arrangement for yachts, however locals warn (and I can confirm!) that the harbour is now even more exposed and open to the north winds and seas brought on by frontal passages, (luckily most of the weather comes from the ESE). (Source: noonsite.com)
TAHITI – RAROTONGA (arrived Aug/02/2016)
Total trip time; 76 hours
Total trip distance; 622 nm
Total fuel used: 498 gals. / 1.24 nm/gal
“Motor Vessel INFINITY, INFINITY, INFINITY,,,,,HARBOR MASTER”
Harbour Master, this is INFINITY on VHF 12 – go ahead.
“Harbor Master here Captain,,,, – Richard wants to say ‘Hello’
“Hey Richard! — How you doing Dude?!”
Of course, Richard, is none other than Nordhavn Dreamer & esteemed Global Entrepreneur, RICHARD BARTON.
Richard has been a casual acquaintance of INFINITY, via the Nordhavn Dreamers website, and we have emailed each other from time to time. Richard understood we were on our way to Rarotonga, reached-out and extended a warm welcome.
He has shown us around the Island, and looked after our importation of our fuel pump. And his wife Willy invited us over to dinner at their beautiful house on the west side of the Island. We’ve also met & hung out with their daughter Trish for a few days. What a great family! It’s wonderful people like this who make our cruising so worthwhile.
This morning, (Aug/09/2016) we installed the new fuel pump for our 20 KW Generator. She’s a go!! However, minor upset occurred trying to remove the stop solenoid. As we unscrewed the solenoid, it came apart in our hands : ( Perhaps it can be rebuilt? For now, I plugged it off and have to stop the Genny by using the manual ‘stop’ on the machine itself. No biggy, apart from the fact that the “auto-shut-down” feature will no longer operate. We’ll have to keep a closer and more frequent eye on the oil pressure and engine temperature. UPDATE: (18/AUG/2016) The fuel-stop solenoid has been repaired, installed, and is working like a champ!)
I have always been interested in the South Pacific Islands and the Polynesian / Melanesian / Micronesian cultures in general. I think many of us have been at one time or another. My own personal interest started in high-school geography class and the wonder blossomed through-out my twenties, and thirties. I travelled internationally for a living, and my interest grew stronger.
But it wasn’t until Jay and I bought our Nordhavn, and we crossed the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, that my interest in this diverse culture began to be addressed. We were welcomed into Hawaii with open arms and could actually feel the ALOHA spirit radiate through the Hawaiian people. We loved the Bishop Museum and the local Luau’s, and basically any other opportunity which immersed us further into their culture.
But we had a whole world to explore and we were not getting any younger, so onwards we pushed – further south and further west – towards French Polynesia. All through the Society Islands, their own unique culture was immediately evident – from the most open & accepted personal sexuality, to the most amazing display of Tattoo’s. Almost everyone, it seemed, had a Tattoo prominent on their body. This was a revelation to me. I have always respected well intentioned Tattoo’s, especially one’s which told a story. I even considered getting some sort of tribal Tattoo myself years ago, but simply could not justify it.
Once we reached Rarotonga, and I saw with my own eyes, that a major percentage off the population (young & old alike) were adorned with ink. I stood in awe how every persons’ Tattoo was different from each others.
Jay & I were asked if we would mind being interviewed for the Cook Island News, and of course we said ’sure’. It was during the interview, that I noticed Soloman’s Tattoo. I remarked how striking it was, and he asked us if we wanted to hear of his Tattoo’s story. I was enthralled to hear how each symbol represented a certain time or path in his life,,, it was truly unique to him. At that moment, I knew that I was finally going to live-out a life-long dream of getting a Tattoo, one which told my own story. Two days later, my personal canvas was done at Polynesian Tattoo, in Rarotonga. I could not be happier with the results. I will forever be reminded of the wonderful experience we’ve had in Polynesia and fulfilled another dream.
Infinite dreams,,, endless possibilities,,, without boundaries. ∞
My Tattoo is a traditional Polynesian interpretation of my own personal journey: the union of two people, traveling together to foreign lands by sea, guided by the sea-birds and the warrior spirit. Our family is close-by in our hearts. We are all kept healthy from the fruits of the land, the sun, and positive energy.
- If I had to compare an Island the most like Rarotonga, MOOREA stands out as being the closest. Lush green lands fringed with palm trees, surround high Jurrasic-like mountains. The pride the Rarotongans the have in their Island is evident everywhere you turn, substantiated with well kept lots and manicured grasslands.
- A unique aspect of Rarotonga culture is the placement of loved-ones who have passed-on. The tall gravestones, shrines & Slabs are placed in the front yard of many homes. We’ve been told that they are positioned in this way so the family can be close; as they sit on the shrines and commune with those passed on.
- We had several occasions to take our scooters around the Island. We visited some Markets, the many beaches, and of-course the fine local hang-outs.
As always on our travels, we’ve been meeting lots of interesting cruisers. One such couple was Riley and Elayna on s/v La Vagabonde. They have a website and facebook page directing you to their set of You-Tube videos. These guys started sailing completely new, and are now crossing oceans. Talking to them was rewarding and satisfied my sailing fix for another few weeks ! ; )
Rarotonga has been the best Polynesian Island for me yet,,, But it’s all about the boat for me, and Rarotonga is unfortunately limited in the services and moorage it presently can offer passing cruisers. The Port Authorities did the best for us, and we certainly appreciated the efforts they went to to accommodate us. We would love to see a bonafide marina opened up to the cruising public which would surely augment the burgeoning tourist industry on the Island.
This morning (August 19th) we arrived Aitutaki after an overnight passage. The forecast was somewhat favorable, but the reality was different. Of course it was much worse, 20 knots of wind on-the-nose with an posing current made an uncomfortable ride. But we got here safe and sound and we’re currently sitting here nicely at anchor (1030) – there is no way we can enter Aitutaki lagoon, as we draw too much,,, small boats only. Our anchored position is about 750 meters North of the Arutanga Passage (which is the small-boat access into Aitutaki), and just 100 meters off the coral reef. With 60 meters of chain out (in 15 meters of water), this only gives us a 40-meter buffer between us and the rocks. Although we’ve encountered similar anchoring scenarios throughout the south pacific atolls, and we are confident in INFINITY’s ground tackle, this never really feels comfortable. The ‘edge’ is there.
But what to do? Be totally safe and blow off this destination,,, No, gotta do it, but I need to be constantly vigilant, and make peace with the edge.
Rarotonga – Aitutaki
time – 20 hours
miles – 146 nm
ave speed – 7.3 kts
Fuel – 128 gals
mpg – 1.14 nmpg
We called Aitutaki Port Control on VHF 16, and informed them of our arrival. They knew we were here, and I confirmed our anchor position. We spoke to a local contact (Teina Bishop) and we’ll try to hook up with him tomorrow when we go ashore. This afternoon, Julie and I are just lounging onboard INFINITY, reading, eating, relaxing, and watching how INFINITY handles the local weather. Both Flopper Stoppers are deployed.
The next morning we dinghied into the Port, and I noted the 4’ depth in a few parts of the channel. Looks as though it was a good call on anchoring outside the reef! Trina Bishop is a dear friend & business colleague of Richard Barton’s, in Rarotonga. Teina owns a few businesses on Aitutaki, and was a member of local Parliament for over 30 years. He picked us up at the harbour and gave us a tour around the Island.
Aitutaki has been involved in a number of commercial activities, but the only sustainable one has turned out to be tourism. The Island is a shining example of keeping local culture infused with an up-to-date lifestyle, and another great tribute to the Cook Islands. Aitutaki is outstandingly beautiful and was a worthy stopover for us. We probably would have never seen this Island if it wasn’t for INFINITY.
During our stay in all of our destinations, we try to remain flexible and go with what Mother Nature has in store for us. When I looked at the upcoming forecast, it showed days of rain & strong winds ahead. Considering our vulnerable anchoring position, we decided to call it a day. I got on the VHF radio, and canceled our Island Boat Tour we had planned for the next day with Teina, and made preparations to get out of there comfortably, while we could.
Well,,, during the recovery of our anchor, our hydraulic windless failed (perhaps shear pins?) and we had to recover it using plan B, (using the davit,,pulling up 9 inches at a time). This operation took a few hours but we got there in the end. However, now we were in a dilemma,,,our planned destination from Aitutaki was going to be Tonga, but we were unsure of the support we could get there. A Trawlers anchoring capability is a major system which must be 100% fully operational and we needed to get the unit sorted soonest. Next destination then?? Fiji! – 1400 miles away!