The Cook Islands

Avatiu Harbor - Rarotonga Island

Med mooring style - the wharf is back in there somewhere.

Choices had to be made once we reached the Cook Islands. Like the 15 different stars on their flag there are 15 different islands split between northern and southern lying groups. It was a tough decision as there were so many wonderful choices in each direction but knowing we wanted to visit Palmerston and help deliver supplies, we headed south.


Our intentions were only to stay a short while here but the friendly atmosphere and great activities lured us in for a full two weeks. Starting with the waterized version of parking lot jockey. A tiny anchorage, boats are med moored here a few rows deep which we quickly learned takes a lot of patience and help from your friends. Each boat remains tied off to each other and the wharf at the same time. We were blessed to know and love each of our neighbors as it gets quite cozy in there. When one boat moves, you all move.

We hit the ground running as soon as we became accustomed to a new form of money, the Cook Island or New Zealand dollar both work well here. And secondly, we learned how to look the correct direction when crossing the street as they all drive on the wrong side of the road.

Scooter rally, Let's ride!

With all our buddy boats in tow, we rented scooters for the day and assaulted the island. 5 boats, 14 riders and 7 scooters. Any way you do the math = trouble. Next on the agenda was the week long Constitution celebration complete with nightly dance competitions. We took an evening and were in awe of the flurry of dancing, singing and rhythmic beats. Leave it to us as well to find the best hamburger in town, finest ice cream and much to our delight a fantastic Indian resturant at Ravitz. No stay with this fantastic fleet would be complete without a potluck and this time a wine tasting party.

Time to get some real exercise, so we rallied some friends and climbed over the island on a fantastic hike. The cross island hike, "Te Rua Manga", takes you through a variety of settings scampering up tree root hand hold inclines, to the pinnacle needle rock formation, down through thick as theives ferns, palms and river hopping before you end up at the Wigmore Waterfall. A little wait on the other side for a bus to give you a ride back to town, an ice cream cone for your efforts and a camera full of beautiful memories.

An extra highlight of our stay here was the opportunity for Tristan and Lisa, the crew of Moorea and Capaz to get scuba diver certified. The team led by Ed and our instructor Simon at Dive Rarotonga were dynamic and professional. Everyone had so much fun we almost forgot that we were learning something serious here. 4 beautiful ocean dives including sights such as turtles, eels, ghost coral and "Tommy" the trigger fish, by the end of the course and we were hooked. The banana muffins and hot chocolate between dives might have helped some as well. They are a special bunch there and well worth the visit.


Our intention was to deliver some supplies for the isolated islanders and then take in the beautiful setting and experience their style of life on this small island. There are currently 73 family members living here all direct descendents of the Englishman, William Marsters and his 3 Penrhyn wives back in 1862. The ulitmate decision maker of all sailors, the weather, had different plans for us.

We were instantly greeted by our host Edward Marsters. A muscle packed man with a kind and generous spirit. He helped us to get a mooring and unload their supplies. We took a quick trip to shore in his dinghy through the most amazing pass between coral reefs ever seen. He is a master. It wasn't long before the weather started to turn and we were on the run.

Our anchorage on the west side of the island was very exposed to the winds that were beginning to shift and push us toward the reef. We opted to anchor on the south side of the island for the night. We stayed up that evening to keep watch as the wind was forecasted to shift yet again and come back out of the south with great speeds which would necessitate another move to keep us off the reef yet again. 4am the wind shifted at 35 knots nearly instantly and brought with it a blinding rain storm that made it impossible to see or hear anything around you. The challenge with anchoring in coral is getting out. As is often the case with coral, our chain was wrapped tight and had us hog tied. We were in danger of hitting the boat next to us or heading to the reef again. Along with two fellow boaters that evening we all three ended up dropping our anchors and chain right there for the time being.

The three of us including s/v Sea Kardinal and s/v Kabuki tied back to the moorings come daylight and caught our breath. This "tropical bomb" as they had called the weather system was traveling far south of our location but still bringing a lot of weather to everyone around. The barometer had dropped 50 points in a very short period of time. Along with the winds it roused up some large swell reaching 15 to 20 ft. near us. It was coming out of south west which would make those moorings unsafe and certainly uncomfortable for another night. So this time we ran for the north side of the island. We all dug up our secondary anchors and made a go of it there for the evening. The following day it was finally calm enough to return to the moorings as the swell had turned a bit more out of the south now, but recovering the anchors would take a few more days.

Our tour guides of the island

This gave us the chance to get to shore and meet the locals. The children were fun and fabulous taking us right in under their wings. Chasing pigs, climbing coconut trees, playing on swings, riding bikes and fierce marble games. Matthew, Tristan and Abby from Sea Kardinal even had the opportunity to participate in PE at school one day.

The island itself is thick with palm trees and the town very protected from what ever the weather may bring out on the ocean. The water here was clearer and more pristine than we had ever seen. The inner lagoon of the atoll even out did the Tuomotus as far as varieties of shades of blue. It was a priviledge just to witness it though we never had the opportunity to swim there.

We did get the chance to poke our heads in the waters outside the lagoons and could see easily to depths of 100ft. There we found some of the largest and most plentiful fish and turtles.

The locals there were fun to visit with and had a great sense of humor. They enjoyed introducing us to their world.

Eager to help "yachties" as we are called, feel welcomed and at home they have built a Palmerston Island Yacht Club complete with laundry facilities and showers.

Being so isolated they get very infrequent visits from the supply ships. Their main export is fish so to compensate for this they have many many freezers that they utilize to keep the fish fresh until the ship arrives. The freezers are kept going by a generator that is run on 6 hour intervals to minimize fuel use and maximize the cold.


While the kids we playing the adults had some time to visit. Jenny from Sea Kardinal brought some supplies to shore to bake with Shirley. We had the chance to meet the newest member to the island, baby boy Marsters born there on our last day.

The men were busy hard at work trying to recover our anchors. Ross from Kabuki, the ultimate extreme fisherman, taught us the meaning of the word "focus" as he brought his pole along for the anchor retrieval and they brought home many a fish. It did end up taking 3 full tanks of air and all three guys to get up our anchors.

Honey, I sent you out for an anchor and you brought me Mahi Mahi?

With the anchors back in their lockers and another potential cold front coming through it was time to bid farewell unfortunately. We shared one last meal with our host Edward and his family and set sail for Nuie. We had hoped to spend more time with the locals there and help them out with their projects, swim in the lagoon, and get to know them even better. We were thankful for our time there as they were generous and so hospitable. We hope to return someday.