Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sailing to and experiencing Palmerston Island... in the Cook Island chain.

Sailing to Palmerston. David decided that we should do more than one Cook Island so Palmerston became our next choice.
The wind...hmmm what's that? we haven't seen any lately... sigh... so we're creeping along at about 2 knots and at times when the wind dies completely we put the engine on, get the batteries charged and get a little further down the way at the same time. At least the weather is warm, nice a balmy actually. Our distance covered from dusk to dawn was a whopping 28 miles and 18 of those was done under engine :-( Thank heavens this isn't a long trip.
Dawn at 06:44
A little later at 07:05
Sunrise at 07:11
Half a Paw paw for breakfast.

So finally in the late hours of the second night the wind came to visit. I could switch the engine off and set the genoa. At last we were sailing at a decent speed. 6.5 knots.
By the time I handed over my watch to David at 02:00 the wind seemed here to stay. About time! We arrived at Palmerston at 11:30 after experiencing a Squall of note.

David writes in the log book "As we closed on Palmerston we were met by a 6 mile long rain cloud. I got nervous as the wind squall rose to the mid twenties and I dropped the main - but this was as strong as the wind got - we could have sailed it, especially if we had payed off onto a broad reach - or we could have put in 2 reefs when we first sighted it - but then I thought we were going to miss it. As it was we were basically lying abeam with the genoa out ( flapping) going nowhere."

I was chuffed though because I'd made this rain catcher and when I heard the rain thundering down I leapt out of bed and started to catch it in jerry jugs. We caught at least 10 gallons .. yay!

Once at Palmerston we were hailed by radio by a chap called Simon who directed us to a great mooring. It had two pick up lines that we could attach, one to each hull. The lines were attached to chain which was wrapped around coral on the sea bed. The water is crystal clear and it's easy to see way down. David went for a swim to check out the mooring and make sure it was in good nick. It was in very good nick, they also kept the chains from damaging the corals by tying a buoy to them and so lifted them off the bed. The sea bed is coral as far as the eye can see. We swam, snorkeled for an hour, experienced no end to the corals and a lot of amazingly huge parrot fish, amongst others. I saw a Moorish idol that was at least as big as a dinner plate. Definitely the largest I've ever seen. So beautiful.
Arriving at Palmerston island.
Anyway I digress :-) Edward, who is Simon's brother, came out in a motor boat to make sure everything was okay. He then told us that he'd be bringing the officials out to the boat to check our paperwork. I made a Key Lime Pie and put it in the freezer to chill.
Eventually they arrived and proceeded to sort out the paperwork. When all was done we offered them a cool drink and a slice of pie. They invited us ashore right there and then, so we went.
Gorgeous Beach.
Facing the other way...
On palmerston you cannot go ashore yourselves, Edward will come and get you and deliver you back to your boat. There are other people who act as hosts on the island but with us it was Edward. The reef around the island is rather convoluted and seems rather difficult to negotiate as it's not marked, so I reckon that it's safer to leave it to the locals. The island is inhabited by 65 people who are members of three families. 29 of them are children in school. Their school is great, cool and airy and seems well equipped. They have a computer and internet so that the children can search for information online and recently each home has now got a telephone. They make their living with fishing. Catching and freezing the fish in large freezers, storing them till the boat that does the rounds around the Cook Islands, drops by to collect it all.

The people are friendly and hospitable. We were invited to lunch that first day. It was a very tasty meal of fish with onions and rice.
A boat that was recently 'lost' on the reef when it's mooring broke.
The mooring is free, but it's sort of expected of you to 'donate' various 'unwanted' items off your boat to the island. We were assured that if our hosts had no need of any of the items given to them that they would filter it down the line to the rest of the islanders. Later we learned that this is not the case if you give the stuff to Edward. Sadly he seems to be a bit of a pack rat and he hordes everything for himself, so in the end you leave the island rather disillusioned. Otherwise it's a beautiful place with lots of trees that shelter the homes from the worst of the cyclone winds that sometimes tear through there.
Beautiful tall trees.
A lovely walk.
Shady and cool.. David looks really tiny next to these trees!
A classroom at the School.
Some more classrooms and they have a good internet connection here too.
When we arrived and were chatting to the officials, we were told that there was another English girl on the island. Wow, cool, we were dying to meet her. Somehow though we didn't get to see her till we were leaving to go back to Puddytat and she came walking down the beach on her regular evening walk. We didn't have much time to say anything, I think I called out to her that we'd like to get together and chat. Next day was Sunday. We'd had a rough night as the wind had decided to pick up and the rain fell, making me get up and swap jerry jugs as they filled. One of the mooring balls was continuously knocking on the hull, so David was up and down trying different methods to quiet it, so by the time the sun rose we were still sleeping and for the first time in ages we slept till 09:15. After 11 am we called Edward and asked him to ferry Rose out to us so that we could meet her. We knew that she wanted to leave the island and were considering taking her along with us. This they duly did later that afternoon. Rose who is really Ros, (pronounced Roz ) seemed such a nice person so we told her that if she wanted she could sail with us the next day. She did want and so next morning after some tearful farewells from people who'd grown to love Ros very much, we dropped the mooring lines and sailed off toward Tonga. West. Sailing off into the sunset. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Your pictures are beautiful, love the cave!
    Happy quilting,