05/03/2008, Avatui Harbor
21 12'S:159 46'N Avatui Harbor Rarotonga Southern Cook Islands
April 29 2008 Gabriella arrives Rarotonga In the Southern Cook Islands after a rainy bumpy night. A greeting of smilies awaits us from Crisis Mode a warm welcome from fellow sailors our racing buddies! Checking in was strangely comfortable as English is spoken here and we understood every word exchanging smilies and jokes. It is nice to hear our native tongue and experience the friendliness of others I am embraced by a feeling of home. The peace of the island has covered me in a calm silence of wonder quite the contrast of last nights pounding of the dark rain filled waves. Gabriella is now tied to the dock resting in the only harbor of the island, Avatiu. As Ted and I walk to town chickens scurry about with young chicks and strutting roosters . Dogs mill about and when I say hi they come over for a look. Cars drive on the opposite side of the road than in the U.S. so crossing can be dangerous and driving confusing.
April 30 ,2008
Awaking to cool air it is down to 74 degrees in my cabin ! The roosters are crowing and life is beginning to wake up. My fleece is found in the closet and is enthusiastically hugged, bringing warmth and to my pleasant surprise it also smells fresh, so the day begins with a smile. We have a rental car and will do some exploring of the island today it is a 30 minutes ride around the entire island. Bill my father-in-law is with us one more week and our time together will be spent here on Rarotonga. Trevor continues to homeschool and look for new surf breaks while Ted studies the charts presenting fresh dreams of new fishing grounds and the islands that lay beyond.
It has been quite the day a cruise ship has arrived in town bringing many visitors who stop by Gabriella saying hello and curiously asking questions making today a very social fun day. Tonight while sitting in the cockpit an asteroid went over head looking like an airplane coming in for a landing and then dissipating. Our evening ended with more local families coming by to say hello and talk. Rarotonga is becoming our favorite stop in the world. It is number one friendly!
Can you believe it is the month of May! Remembering back into childhood my mom and I would make baskets and fill them with live wild flowers then we would walk over to our neighbors and leave the gift of May on the door steps. Here in the Cook Islands I see flowers woven into garments, headbands, and necklaces , for every day wear and in dance celebrations. Dance is an important part of the island heritage. Men and women adored in flowers giving off an intoxicating aroma. Their hands move to voice and song telling stories of the past . Intertwined by graceful body movement changing into a fast motion emphasized on the legs for the men and the hips for women all to the beat of the drum which ends the dance and story to loud applause. My favorite part of the dancing is the smile and eyes glowing in delight being a well lit lamp on a stand full of joy displaying a culture so different than mine. I find the art of flowers and the heart of dance absolutely fascinating .
With the wind picking up and changing directions the harbor has become full of swell beating the boats up against the sea wall. Crisis Mode had a very rough night the mast looking like a wind shield wiper in a storm. Gabriella fared smoother due to her width still we all looked like a race horse waiting for the starting gate to open prancing wildly. Awakening to the feeling of being a milkshake it is time to take action. The solution is to move the boats and Med -moor. This means to gladly leave the sea wall which has thankfully torn to pieces the buoy covers and not Gabriella. We put out to sea to make some drinking water first as in town drinking water is quite costly at 5$ per 3 liter jug three people for a week it adds up. Returning into the crazy harbor to drop anchor with the bow into the wind and the aft tied off to the sea wall Gabriella is Med- Moored and in a much better position for these conditions.
Saturday arrives and the wind has let up along with the seas. It is market day on the island. The prepared food is abundant and delicious from fresh juice and waffles to local rice and chicken. With many vendors selling garden fresh fruits and vegetables like beautiful lettuce ,cucumbers, corn, papayas, bananas and more I was able to stock up Gabriella for the next leg of our journey to Nuie. With a few more days left here on Rarotonga it is time to start preparations. Bill departs Tuesday by air and most likely we will pull anchor Wednesday morning.
No moon and many stars until aftermidnight. Gabriella has been mainly motoring a wind came up up dead on our nose. In the hour of 3 a.m. we passed Crisis Mode out in the distance. As the sun rose we passed the Island of Atiu, since there is no harbor just a possible day anchorage on the 90 foot reef we continued on in to the grey raining morning wondering if we will see the sun today. One fish on the line escaping safely to the sea and we have traveled 456 miles. Today the wind is light and we have the jib out, 80 more miles to Rarotonga! We need to enter the harbor in daylight so I imagine our race will be a mutual tie. It is comforting to know Crisis Mode is out to sea with us and we will enter safe harbor together.