An Island to Oneself
14 July 2009 | Suwarrow, Cook Islands
Zen made the 400 mile passage from Aitutaki (aye-too-TAH-kee) to Suwarrow (su-WAH-row), Cook Islands in 46 hours. It was like being on a freight train, but with better amenities. The wind was perfect, the waves were big and from all over the place. Our 3 hour watch schedule worked well, but I think the skipper got a little punchy. He wasn't hallucinating or anything like that, but he was writing pretty funny emails to some of our sailing buddies. Can't cut and paste, too many 4 letter words and slurs. Classic, Tommy. We went from Atutaki, the heart of food and civilization, to a deserted national park. This atoll is the place where Tom Neale, a New Zealander, lived here alone from 1952 through his death in 1978. There's a grave ashore, wonder if its his? While he was alive and being a hermit, he wrote about his experiences in a book titled "An Island to Oneself". Today, the Cook Island government pays to have a family stay on the island from April through October, the high season for cruising sailboats to pass through here on their way westward. Veronica, John and their 4 sons, ages ranging from 8 thru 14, are in their 5th season here as the park rangers. It was great to see their smiling faces when we arrived with a full tank of propane for their cooking needs! Not only did we bring them candy, fresh veggies and fruit, but kids to play with. It didn't take 10 minutes and Cole was off scrambling through the bush catching gekkos and riding on the hand-made zip line. Sailors are also given gifts from this adventurous family. They ask for no spearfishing to happen in Suwarrow. In exchange for following the rules, John catches plenty of fish to feed the whole anchorage. Yesterday we were delivered fresh cleaned and filleted fish. Fish tacos and homemade salsa for Zensters today! John and Veronica also act as personal tour guides and have offered to take everyone to some of the neighboring islets for 'reef-walks' as they call them. Sign us up!
Our kids are definitely growing, so I thought it would be a smart place to leave Cole's outgrown clothing for the local boys. Last night, when Zen threw a Bon Voyage party for our departing friends on Flashback, Vani and Tino, the twins from the island, arrived as guests donning Red Sox tshirts and Quicksilver/Gap swim shorts. Too cute! The kids piled into Cammi's cabin and watched a movie of their choice, a total luxury. They chose "Men in Black". Veronica, the mom ashore, handmade a beautiful floral lei and placed it on my head as a gift for hosting a party. I was moved by her thoughtfulness. All the female guests were enthralled w/it and we've asked if Veronica can give lei-making lessons ashore. There were a couple of new friends that joined us, s/v Solace (New Zealanders) and s/v Trio (Australians), along w/the standard neighbors, m/v Karma and s/v Flashback. It's really fun to have these reunions. Everyone gets darn psyched to meet up again hundreds of miles later w/stories to tell and plans for future landfalls. Today another friend arrived from Bora Bora, s/v Daydream. Tomorrow s/v Whisper comes, also bearing 2 boys onboard. It's going to be a big bash in the anchorage. We have not seen these guys since April in the Marquesas!
Some rain squalls are just coming through the anchorage right now. Nice, a little fresh water bath for Zen after her journey. Off to "farm" some H2O for our water tanks and give the desalinator a break. Laundry is way overdue!