Rarotonga to Niue

[] [] [] Leaving Rarotonga

Each new destination has been a joy to visit and a sad place to leave, this makes for a perfect voyage. We had a discussion with other cruisers about when it is good to leave a place you have fallen in love with. I contend it is just before you want to leave and that is when we left Raro. Of all the wonderful places and fabulous people we have come across the people of Rarotonga were the hardest to leave.

In one short week I have become connected to my Raro friends in ways that usually take years. The guys at the wharf took us in like we were old timers and eagerly saw to our every need. The night before we left Dave and Grace invited the whole cruising gang, Mary Powel, Fly Aweigh, Paika Mist, Serenity and Furthur to their home for a BBQ. The spread of food was amazing. All for folks they had just met but formed long lasting friendships.

On my last walk through town after dropping off my rental scooter—a must for this place and so much fun—I ran into four folks who knew me by name and wished us safe passage. Another ten folks came by the boat as we were leaving to bid farewell.

I met the owner of the local FM radio station, we got to talking about music and next thing he invited me to do a Grateful Dead Hour on the radio the next day. Now for an ol’ Deadhead this is heaven. I pondered over my collection picking just the right cuts and put them together for the show. I actually got fan mail via email while on the air!

The greatest joy of oh so many was getting to know Dr. Nan Hauser, famed whale research. When our mutual friend, Dave, discovered my background in whales he immediately called Nan. We had great times talking about our mutual “whale hugger” friends, her amazing work and our mutual love of all things “hippy”.

So with a lump in my throat we cast off from Rarotonga and headed to Niue, a “short” four day run. We left mid day and the first night we had twenty knots on the forward quarter, not unbearable but no comfy so I changed course till the winds changed as predicted. By the second day we had aft quartering seas of about 10-12 feet with 3 ft wind waves, again not comfy but we were able to get back on course. The third day the winds came from full astern and the ride smoothed out still with large seas.

We came up to Bererage Reef, which is the top of a volcano one hundred miles from any land. The reef lays just under the surface which has claimed more than one ship who came upon it unknowingly. Most books advise staying clear and most charts are not accurate in its location. On the other hand it makes for some world class diving making us temp a stop. The winds were still over twenty and the seas large, we could not see the submerged reef that forms the entrance and as much as I wanted the dive and the unique experience of being anchored in the middle of the ocean I passed and set course for Niue,

We made landfall the next day and secured the boat to one of the many mooring buoys provided by the Niue community. No sooner had we landed than we were hailed on 16 by the Niue Yacht Club commodore Kieth. He arranged our custom and immigration appointments and met us at the wharf. Niue has a unique dinghy arrangement, you hoist you dink on a cement wharf by a large electric crane then load it on a hand cart. When you are in place for parking you slide the dink off the cart. It is easier than it sounds but with my larger boat and motor it was a definite three man job.

Niue is an independent country with ties to New Zealand. There are over twenty thousand Niueians living in New Zealand and only 1300 on the island. Again we found a preponderance of churches; Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah Whiteness, Seven Day Adventist and Mormon. We enjoyed the free wifi provided by the Mormons.

We joined the Naveren crew at the “Yacht Club” for ice cream and walked the small town. As always in Polynesia the people are extremely curious and overtly friendly, kind of a nice thing to get used to.

We joined Naveren divers for some great diving. We found one site with a large tunnel cutting through the reef and dove that several times—great fun.

We discovered that neither the whales or the researchers are here yet but both are expected within the week—the researcher have plane tickets the whales are on their own.