Directions

Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:
FIRST "REFIT" BLOG ENTRY - March 2011

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Niue

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After such an incredible visit in Palmerston we wondered what our journey would bring us next....

Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometers (1,500 mi) northeast of New Zealand, and east of Tonga, south of Samoa and west of the Cook Islands. Its land area is 260 square kilometers (100 sq mi) and its population, predominantly Polynesian, is around 1,190. They commonly refer to the island as "The Rock", a reference to the traditional name "Rock of Polynesia".
Niue, whose capital is the village of Alofi, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand; and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations on its behalf. Niueans are citizens of New Zealand, and Queen Elizabeth II is head of state in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand. Between 90–95% of Niuean people live in New Zealand, along with about 70% of the speakers of the Niuean language.

The most distinctive characteristic we found was the peoples friendliness...  No one passed without some kind of greeting... Even in a vehicle, people waved as the vehicles passed....  The one thing we struggled with was the incredibly high cost of everything on the island.  A Coke cost $5, Beer is $5-$8, and a loaf of fresh bread is $5....  Don't even ask what Doritos cost!

That said, we realize that everything here must be brought in via a container supply ship so it stands to reason, everything must cost more....  The one item I just couldn't get over was the price of a replacement spark plug for our generator...  I last purchased the very same plug from Amazon for $4.  Yesterday, I found the only supplier on the island who had one, and he asked for $20.... Ouch!

The price of things aside, what a beautiful place.  Niue is one of the world's largest coral islands. The terrain consists of steep limestone cliffs along the coast with a central plateau rising to about 60 meters above sea level. A coral reef surrounds the island, with the only major break in the reef being in the central western coast, close to the capital, Alofi. Yesterday we rented a car and explored the island and the most notable feature we found was the number of limestone caves found close to the coast.

The bay here is very deep 30+ meters (100+ feet) so the Niue Yacht Club has provided a number of moorings for visiting yachts for $20 per night. There is also almost nowhere to land a dinghy here so the Niue Yacht club as seen to it that we have access to a crane to lift our dinghies on to the wharf...


Dinghy Parking!
Dinghy crane
This is where we get on and off the dinghy
quite a set-up!
Our trip around the island was wonderful...  



A Coconut Crab...
An HONOR bar....  no one there, you just pay for what you take...



An early burial tomb...

A first world war memorial....












Rijnhard and Lisa, s/v Enchanter....



Amazing!



The first Christian Islander....
A local man hunting wild pigs....

More soon, 
Cheers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Palmerston!

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here are a few pictures from our last few days in Bora Bora:

There are no sunsets like the ones in Bora Bora...


Feeding wild stingrays...  There is NO PEN...



s/v Enchanter - Our friends, Rijnhard and Lisa
Where does the sea end and the sky begin?
Classic Bora Bora

Our trip from Bora Bora included crossing the 10,000 NM threshold!



I can only hope that my mere words can adequately describe the beauty and the joy we felt as we came (for just a short time) part of the community who make their home on the atoll in the South Pacific called Palmerston Island.

I was incorrect on my last post, calling the man who settled the atoll, Mr. Palmerston.  He was in fact, William Marsters, who arrived in 1863.  The island was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1774, but had no human population until Mr Marsters arrived.

With the help of 3 wives, Akakingaro, Tepou Tenioi, and Matavia, this renegade Englishman planted palms, then harvested copra and produced 21 children whose direct descendants today still inhabit this little bit of paradise.  No one, who is not a descendant of, or married to a descendant, is allowed to live permanently on the island.  There are however, a few outsiders including a nurse, 2 teachers, the pastor, and a New Zealander, who comes with a dubious past (something about an ex-wife or two). They are not allowed to reside full time on the island, but are welcomed as family while they are there.

These people are a seafaring community whose contact with the outside world comes only from an occasional cruising boat who stumbles upon Palmerston on their way somewhere else.... They see a supply ship a few times a year if they are lucky, so are extremely resourceful and self sufficient.

Our arrival here was not planned.  When we left Bora Bora, we had plotted a course directly to Tonga.  A few days out we decided to stop just long enough to deliver some school supplies to this out of the way island after we learned of their isolation.
Palmerston!
Our first Whale in Palmerston
We rounded the tip of  North Island just after daybreak on August 9th.  Within minutes of sighting the main island (Palmerston) we were met by a young handsome man who introduced himself as David Marsters as he bounced in his small outboard aluminum skiff beside us.  

David...
He directed us to follow him and he expertly guided us to a mooring on the leeward side of Palmerston Island.  After Blowin' Bubbles was secured, he suggested we get some sleep and that the officials would be out to see us later in the morning.  At this time we explained that we may not want to stay as we had heard the entry fees to the Cook Islands had become exorbitant over the last year.  David said, not to worry that there was "special pricing" for visitors to their island.

Palmerston is not an official "Port of Entry" to the Cook Islands, but have permission to receive yachts who have some special need, or problem with their boat.  It turns out EVERYONE who comes by has some special "need".  It turned out we were the 52nd sailboat to visit the island this year.


After a few hours we were introduced to David's dad, Edward, who was our "host" while visiting Palmerston Island. Edward and David had brought out to our boat the "officials" who would be clearing us in.  Edward was dressed neatly wearing a golf style shirt with "Palmerston Police" embroidered on it.  Yes, Edward is Palmerston's ONLY police officer...  

The official clearing in included a visit from the nurse whose job is was to determine that we were bringing no troubling disease to the nice people of Palmerston and to spray our boat in case we had brought along an insect from some foreign place.  After a very pleasant interrogation and fumigation, her presence was replaced by Arthur, who is an islander whose one of many hats was to be the customs and immigration officer.  (He is also, the administrator for the Island and the liaison for the people of Palmerston and the Cook Island Government.)

After another pleasant interrogation, it was decided that we were welcome to stay for a few days to sort out whatever our problem was that caused us to stop here...

We were invited to come to shore with them but we declined as we needed some sleep.  Edward told us to radio him on our VHF when we wanted to come to shore.  Yachties are not permitted to bring their own dinghies ashore.  The main reason is the treacherous pass that they must go through between the anchorage and the inner atoll.
John...
After a few hours sleep we radioed Edward and he sent his other son, John to pick us up.  John is David's younger brother who is a young strapping 17 year old.  We piled into his skiff and he guided it through the pass like a seasoned pro. The skiff's propeller came within inches of coral balmy's but John seemed to hardly notice.


Once on shore we were greeted to a sight every cruiser dreads.  The carcass of a sailing yacht whose owner refused local mooring advice one night after explaining that "he" was a seasoned yachtsman and proceeded to pile up on the reef when the predicted storm brewed and his boat line to the mooring chafed through...



After a short walk up a palm tree lined path we came to what was affectionately known on the island as "The Bush Club" or more simply, the complex of homes making up this branch of the Marsters family.  It was here we met Shirley, the mom and matriarch of the family.  A larger than life woman whose infectious smile and mischievous look makes you feel at home in seconds...  We were also introduced to Simon, Edwards older brother and "Granny" (Simon and Edward's 86 year young mom, currently the oldest living person on the island). After our introductions, we were taken on an informative tour of this magic island.
Teachers living quarters


NEW Solar Electric Station which supplies every family.



The new school...

some of the earliest graves on the island

baby coconuts!
 Until just 5 years ago, the only way the island could communicate with the outside world was with a Ham radio.  They now have telephone, and internet (although the internet is STUPID expensive, so hardly anyone uses it)
The new communication/internet installation
There are NO dogs or cats on the island, but there are chickens and pigs EVERYWHERE!

Blowin' Bubbles

Main Street!
The new church...
Water collection building (they only have rainwater)
The grave of William Marsters
the old church
The Island Administrative Building
every vehicle has a licence plate
After our tour we were treated to a refreshing glass of straight from the shell, coconut water.  Then we were fed the first of many delicious meals with our new "family".  Our meal included some fresh Wahoo cooked to perfection.  And just in case we didn't eat enough at supper, they sent us back to our boat that evening with a frozen piece for later...


Shirley in her kitchen...


When Edward brought us home that night to Blowin' Bubbles we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and had the first of many chances to share.  We were able to exchange some spare fishing tackle for some of our mooring fees. This was to be the first of many chances to give and receive in the lost art of barter.  In the end, money never changed hands, yet we all felt richer from our time together.

The next day, with Edward, introduced us to the principal of the Palmerston school where we were invited to speak to the children about our experiences with our work with "Right to Write".  We made a picture presentation and answered many questions from the children just before we gave all 24 students their own pencil case and school supplies.  We also gave them a band new soccer ball.

We are introduced to the school principal, Kat

To be clear, the people are not poor.  They simply do not have access to many of the things most of us take for granted.  It was refreshing to share what we had with these beautiful children.  The ages of the school kids are 4 to 18.  Around 2002 the old schoolhouse on the island burned down and the island was left with no school.  We were told that kids who are around David's age (20) didn't get any formal education during that time. The Cook government decided there wasn't enough children to afford the expense of replacing it.  In 2005, the people of Palmerston took matters into their own hands and built their own school.  Before we left the school we were treated to a song sung by the kids about their island. .  This would be the first of many chances to hear people of this community sing.  And WOW, can these folks sing!



The school has 4 teachers and a principal now.




The 2016 summer Olympics were taking place in Rio and so the school in Palmerston decided to hold their own. They made up 4 "Country" teams, USA, CHINA, SOUTH AFRICA and COOK ISLANDS.  After an opening prayer from Mama Akka (one of the 3 family elders) the games begun.  Not only did the children participate, but so did EVERYONE from very young to very old!  What a day... The pictures should tell the story better than I....



Josh & Melissa, husband and wife teachers from S.Africa and the USA. Notice on the hand made USA flag the 52 stars have been replaced by the 15 flowers of the 15 Cook Islands...


Hand made medals and trophies....
everyone made their own T-shirt out of an old one....
Team USA
Team China
Team Cook Islands
Team South Africa
The yachties meeting the teams...

These two photos touched my heart like no others. They capture the joy and the spirit of the people of  Palmerston


The whole community is there and involved...


hugs at the end....
Lisa has met her match....


























We were invited to help out.... 
and the crowd goes wild!
A french yachtie who is a retired orthopedic surgeon happen to be here so fixed up an injured athlete...
Everyone made new friends...




An elder woman from each family was there to award the prizes...










During our visit we gave David and John an introductory scuba lesson, we went snorkeling and spear fishing with they boys, we installed two new moorings and I was brought out of retirement to preach the Sunday sermon in church!






Sunday on the island is a very sacred day.  No work is done AT ALL! and almost everyone was in church Sunday morning, Men on one side, women on the other... Singing in Maori, the harmony and part singing clearly took a lifetime to perfect.




On Wednesday, 9 days after we arrived, we realized that we really had to leave.  Arthur had extended our permission twice already, and we knew that he would be getting heat from the government if we didn't move on soon.  Following are some random photos from our amazing week in paradise.... (Notice there is a reoccurring theme around food...)

Men BBQ'ing is a universal thing!  Who Knew...




It is an amazing wife, who fixes her husbands hammock....








Our daily meal.....

His name is Bacon 2.0...  We never asked about Bacon 1.0



Shirley's birthday celebration!


Foreigners being taught to Polynesian dance.... lololol....



meeting other cruisers on the beach...
If the chicken only knew....
We were given these beautiful gifts from the children of Palmerston....

The Palmerston Country Club... a.k.a. another host family's home...

After one last feast together, we tearfully said goodbye to our new family and began the longest "short" run to Niue where we are today. More on that next entry.

Cheers!