Change of Plans – Sailing to Rarotonga

by Drew on July 12, 2009

The best thing about this lifestyle is that short of weather and boat capability, we have complete freedom to direct ourselves and change our plans. After 10+ days in Aitutaki we decided to do just that. We like Cook Islanders, we like the food, the atmosphere. We like all the Kiwi and Aussie tourists hanging around. So we decided to not cut ourselves short here in the Cooks and head south to see what the nation’s “city life” is like in Rarotonga, the capital island. It’s only 140 miles due south from here…an overnight sail. We’ll be able to do a good restocking there and get some needed laundry done. Plus, if we stick with our plan to head up to Swarrow, we’ll also add in a stop at Palmerston Island putting one more Cook Island under our belt.
So far we’ve only heard of two boats heading to Raro. Some years it’s a popular stop while in other years yachts stick to a more northerly route through Aitutaki and Swarrow. It seems this is one of those more northerly years. There’s seven boats in Swarrow right now with 5-6 more on the way. On the 17th, a cruise ship (the first ever) is pulling into the island with 350 passengers. Now that’s a crowd. It’s not surprising Raro is becoming less popular. The harbor is tiny and offers no protection from a northerly wind and swell. We’ll be Tahiti-moored to a concrete wharf meaning we’ll drop anchor, back up, and tie stern lines ashore. This way they are guaranteed to squeeze 15 boats into a space meant for 12! In years past the harbor runs completely out of space and the port captain is forced to turn boats away. Hopefully it won’t be an issue for us this early in the season.
Aitutaki remains one of our favorite stops ever. The only regret I have is not getting down into the main part of the lagoon on our dinghy. We tried yesterday but with the wind blowing steady out of the east the waves were up and the ride was miserable. I hoped to try again today but the trades aren’t letting up. At least we were able to do that lagoon tour with Zen (Bishop’s Cruises was great) so we have an idea of what we missed. Here’s a list of some of the highlights from the past week and a half.
-One Foot Island was absolutely gorgeous and deserves its spot as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
-For an animal that doesn’t move much, giant clams are pretty damn cool
-being sick sucked but watching the first two seasons of Entourage did not (thanks Tom and Monique)
-The Pacific Resort is still my fav. Voted Best Island Boutique Resort 2008 in the World Travel Awards
-Margie can and will dance for an hour by herself at the Blue Nun Cafe and not care cause she’ll “never see ANY of these people again!”
-Goodbye Scoot-Scoot…we will miss you
-we found the best candy store on the island. email us for details
-the fire dancing at the Tamanu Resort on Thursday nights is killer! not to be missed.
-Margie loves her some banana pancakes at Cafe Koru and they make bacon here just how I like it…fatty and greasy!
-And we love the international cruising community. Last night we joined Brits Neil and Jackie from Camelot for some fish burgers and rum punch aboard the Austrian catamaran, September, with Hans and Gaby. There’s 5 Norwegian guys on a boat anchored outside the pass. This morning an Italian boat left and a New Zealand boat showed up. We really do know people all over the world!
So long Aitutaki. Thanks for the great introduction to a new country!

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