Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Farewell to Suwarrow

Having barely had our fill of fresh coconut water, grated coconut meat, coconut pancakes, banana pancakes and fish from the lagoon (Parrot fish, Grouper and Tuna) we have torn ourselves away from this beautiful and isolated Atoll of Suwarrow and are heading west towards American Samoa.

How beautiful? Pelagic blue water blends into aqua water and laps onto a white coral sand beach. Behind the beach are coconut palm trees with brilliant green fronds, hibiscus flowers and Tamanu trees. In front of the beach is a coral reef with blue, purple, green and white coral and tons of tropical reef fish including the humuhumunukanukapuaa. While snorkeling one day we were lucky enough to see a Manta Ray with a nine foot wing span! The Suwarrow Yacht Club sits in the center of the island where the Park Rangers, James and John hold court. The building is wood with a tin roof and open on all sides. There is a cook station in the back with a propane stove as well as an outdoor cook station for grilling fish. The only furniture is a very large table with benches all around which hosts many pot-lucks, lazy afternoon conversations, musical jam sessions and serves as an office for checking in/out of the Cook Islands. Several steps away is the cement building where Tom Neale lived for nineteen years as a hermit, although he was not the only one to live this way on Suwarrow.

How isolated? Well it takes the Rangers three days to get there by a large power boat from Raro (Rarotonga). Last year when the Ranger's single side band radio conked out, their headquarters forgot to pick them up at the end of the season! Finally a fishing boat picked them up- three weeks late! Once when a former ranger was feeding the sharks and had an overzealous shark take a chunk out of his side, it took a helicopter five days to get there, pick him up and get him to Samoa! James was once visited by a young man who wanted to see the tree his father tied him up in (twenty feet off of the ground) when a cyclone came through and waves started washing over the island. He wanted to make sure it was as big and safe as his father had told him! No cyclone warning system here other than lick you finger and stick it up in the air....

Other than swimming, snorkeling, bird watching and meeting people from all over the world- what made Suwarrow really special was getting to know the two Cook Island Rangers. They are both full of stories, can live survival style off of an atoll, and are full of facts and figures about Polynesia. They are extremely protective of the atoll and have found a way to share it with the yachties without compromising its' fragile environment.

The squally weather with dark skies reflected our feelings about leaving as we sailed out of the pass yesterday morning. As we passed shark cove and waved to James, beautiful, fat rainbows arched over the atoll also reflecting the way we felt about another over the rainbow experience. Strong winds the rest of the day helped us make good time our first day out towards Am Samoa! Today the skies are sunny, the sea is again pelagic blue (and calm) and we have a beautiful ten to fifteen knot breeze. The spinnaker is flying off of the port beam and Rutea is gracing the swell at about 6 knots.

It's hard to imagine what is ahead of us! There is very little written about Samoa for cruisers and I only started reading what little info I have a couple of days ago! What I do know is that there is shopping and we are down to our last two onions and some very sad carrots! Beyond that- we expect it to be different and we will keep you posted!

R of Rutea
13.43 south
166.21 west
At 8/3/2011 9:40 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 13°38.55'S 165°56.17'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

No comments:

Post a Comment