This blog update should be coming to you from somewhere between BoraBora and Niue. Unfortunately, we have been remiss,again, and have already been there done that trip! We are presently en-route from Niue to SavuSavu, Fiji. Our 1,050 seven day trip from BoraBora to Niue ended up being 1,200 miles and nine days due to very light winds for most of it .... and when they did finally appear, wouldn't you know it, they were right on the nose, forcing us to tack to reach our destination. En-route we bypassed Aitutaki in the Southern Cooks, which we boycotted due to the outrageous fees that we paid to the Cook Islands 2 years ago in Rarotonga, although if Greg our shipmate had been home we would have no doubt called in on him. Unfortunately we also bypassed Palmerston, a tiny Atoll with about 50 residents,who apparently make the cruisers who do call in feel very welcome. Its only anchorages is very exposed to westerly winds and a number of boats have been lost there during such conditions, and of course that's where it was blowing from as we approached the island. The only other item of note from our trip was the nighttime visitation of a brown booby that deftly landed on the boom, spending the night on the sail cover and allowing us to get up close and take photos. He showed not the slightest fear of us, but we finally shooed him away in the morning when he stated depositing guano on the sail cover! We'd noticed on previous visits by birds, that whichever spot they first pick to land on, no matter how inappropriate, is where they will continue to attempt to land and, if successful, spend the night. Unfortunately one of the boobies brethren chose the top of the mast as his spot for the night. Despite our shouts he continued to attempt the landing, and on one unsuccessful pass managed to break the tailfin on our wind anemometer. So our instruments no longer told us the wind speed or direction for the rest of the trip. The winds had backed somewhat to the south by the time we arrived in Niue, but remnants of the westerly swell still made for a rolly uncomfortable anchorage our first few nights there. We had called in at Niue 2 years ago in late October, and while we thoroughly enjoyed the diving, snorkeling & hiking, we had arrived too late in the season to see the whales. Humpbacks call Niue home during their winter season, usually resident from June to September, and it's here that they calve. Having the opportunity to view them was absolutely the overriding reason we made the effort to make a second visit to the island. You can only imagine our delight, when during our first night, we could clearly hear the whales breathing & blowing air alongside the boat in the dark. The next day, and during a number of other occasions during our stay, we were thrilled to see them slowly wander through the mooring field,
basking on the surface, flapping pectoral fins, blowing,
Our choice of the mooring buoy at the far end of the field turned out to be a good one - most nights, while below desks, we could hear the 'whale song' as they talked to each other. It actually sounded like a cross between snoring and mooing! In addition to the whale watching, we broke out the bikes a couple of times, and enjoyed a delightful hike across the coral at Togo Chasm. The sharp ragged rocks reminded Susan of the Bahamas and Colin of Bryce Canyon. After negotiating the coral path, we descended a steep ladder onto a hidden beach, complete with its own stand of coconut palms, and an underground tunnel through the rocks to a sea arch. Colin, grinning like a young boy, just had to see how close he could get to the arch, and paid for his curiosity with a full head to toe dousing of salt water.
We also enjoyed a delightful dinner at the Wash Away Cafe, which is only open on Sundays.
Niuens, in general, are strictly observant about closing businesses on Sundays, but Willie the congenial owner pragmatically decided to become a seventh day adventist, taking Saturday off instead, and allowing him to have the only restaurant open on the whole island on Sunday. Good food, a glorious sunset, and the company of two New Zealanders on holiday was followed by a 10k cycle back to the dock in the dark, and for Colin, a quick swim in the harbor waters! In Niue, it is unsafe to leave your dinghy in the water, so we pull it out when we land with an electric crane there for that purpose. When leaving, we reverse the process, lowering the dinghy to the swells below, Colin jumps in and starts the motor, then Susan hands down the bikes, groceries and any other gear. On this occasion, because it was seemingly calm, the bottom step was just above sea level, so 'we' placed the bikes on the bottom step, so as to be able quickly load them into the dinghy. Wouldn't you know it, out of the dark a rogue wave slushed up the steps, snatched one of the bikes, and dragged it away. Who would think that a 35 pound steel bike would float- but luckily it was folded and zipped inside its bag. Within seconds Colin stripped down, and heroically plunged into the swirling waters, dragging it back to the quay before it could sink. Luckily no-one saw our antics in the dark, and after a thorough rinse in fresh water, the bike seems to have recovered from its late night swim. The always helpful Dick Vermeulen from MaineCat has ordered us a replacement anemometer, but we needed to fabricate something else for use during our passage to Fiji. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you get creative with a plastic Woolworth's vinegar bottle, 2-part epoxy, and a pair of scissors.
Now 24 hours and 190 miles into our trip, the jury rig seems to be holding up just fine. We did have the company of anther boat that left Niue an hour of two before us yesterday afternoon. However we left them behind sometime in the early morning hours, so now it's just the two of us again, surrounded by dark blue seas, sailing along at 7-8 knots under the screacher. Hope to be in SavuSavu in 2-3 days, where will upload photos of the whales. Fiji is just west of the international dateline, so we'll lose a day, seemingly time traveling as we sail into port. From Savusavu we head to Vuda Point marina, where it will take us a few days to put TC to bed for a few weeks, and then before you know it we will be stateside. Looking forward to seeing you all. Click here for more photos