22 Oct Rarotonga, Niue and Passage to New Zealand – October 6-22, 2002
Raro: Oct. 6 – Don and I arrived back in Rarotonga early in the morning on Sunday, accompanied by our passage crew of Ross Miles and Dave Beller who joined us at LAX.. We cruised with Ross on the pivotal voyage down the coast of Mexico and Central America on Zeehaen in March 2000; the trip that convinced Don and I that we wanted to do blue water cruising and resulted in the purchase of Starr shortly after. Ross has done many ocean passages and is a tired and proven crew for passagemaking; Dave, on the otherhand, had never done an ocean passage and wanted to see what it was like. Both were responsible and able crew and a pleasure to have on board. Don Fiel has done a good job of “boatsitting” Starr and we enjoy his stories of who he has met and how he has occupied his time in Raro.
The next two days we prepare Starr for the passage to New Zealand: we provision, organize, stow and orientate the guys to boat procedures, safety and otherwise. We visit Tokerau Jim’s, one of Don Fiel’s discoveries and I finish my Christmas shopping for pearls and both Ross and Dave buy presents for their ladies back home.
Oct. 8 – Our last day in Raro; I go ashore and say “good-bye” to June and to Johnny. This is the difficult part of cruising, saying “good-bye” and not knowing when we will meet again. Junes gives me hugs and French “air kisses”. Johnny is a dear person. She is so happy to see me when I enter the library; she takes both of my hands in her hands, stands practically nose to nose and asks about our trip home. She is warm and compassionate when I tell her that my father died just before we arrived home. When I tell her that we are leaving, she says: “Oh I wish I didn’t have so many commitments. I would go with you for awhile.” We exchange emails and promise to keep in touch.
We leave Raro at 1800 at dusk. I am in the galley cooking dinner and by the time of my watch I become very sick. This is the first time I have become seasick since leaving Seattle and I am very surprised. The seas are not particularly rough but I am so sick that Don finishes my watch for me. After the fact, I realize that I never had the chance to look outside at the sea and the horizon before it became dark. My body never had a chance to adjust to the motion of the wind and waves. If I had stopped and looked out the window for a while, I don’t think that I would have become ill.
Oct. 11-15 – We had a calm and gentle passage to Niue: Gary, overcast and drizzly with the wind at our back. The last night the sky cleared and was beautiful with a sliver of a moon casting light in a path across the water with a gazillion tiny stars in the heavens and a gentle wind caressing us from behind. I spent my three hour watch with the doors to the pilothouse open, looking at the sea, listening to music, thinking: “oh, so peaceful”. We arrive at 1600 on a Friday. It is a good thing that we have already been in communication with the customs officials; they would normally go home at 1600 but wait for us to arrive so we can clear and go ashore for the weekend. Our friends on Kela pick Don up in their dingy, so we won’t have to take the time to launch our so Don can get ashore in a timely manner. Friday night we go ashore and join a crowd of our “boatie” friends for dinner at Matavai Resort.
Niue: an uplifted atoll, is unique. It is an independent country that once was a colony of New Zealand and currently is “in free association with New Zealand”. It is out in the Pacific Ocean all by itself, ____NM West of Raro and ____NM NE of New Zealand. Niue is only 8 x 12 miles overall. We rented a car and spent Saturday and Sunday exploring. We go to a local festival at Atavai Village and buy a live coconut crab to try for dinner. We snorkel at Liku in beautiful pools protected by the reef, hike down the cliffs to the sea at Togo and lunch at the Washaway Cafe (and which has been more than once) on the edge of the sea. We hire a local dive guide and all do a cave dive accompanied by sea snakes (not as bad as it sounds). The water is cold.
Niue is amazing. It feels as if one is diving when walking on dry land. The island was pushed up out of the sea at some point in time in its far distant past and the formations on land are the undersea formations of the coral reef with imbedded coral and dead sea creatures. Everywhere we were surrounded by scenery that we had never seen before. Fascinating!
Oct. 15-22 – Based on a favorable weather report by our weather router, Roger Baden, we head out for a nonstop passage to New Zealand. It was a beauteous passage in the beginning, sunny with a blue sky and seas so calm that the first night out I wasn’t even sure that we were moving. By the 19th the wind had shifted to the South and increased in strength. At this point it was a very lumpy ride, so bad that Don couldn’t even sleep in our bed. I tried to stay in bed and woke up the next morning sore from bracing myself; we call this “mattress surfing”. Don moved aft to the salon and slept on the floor between the sofa and the dolphin table. The remainder of the passage the wind stayed on our nose or forward quarter and was comfortable or not depending on how strong it was blowing, but we had blue skies and sun for a good part of the way.
Oct. 22 – We arrive in Opua at 1000 and after clearing customs we take a slip in Opua Marina for a couple of days. It seems strange for the boat to be so still.