Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nuie: an Island of Its Own

The next stop on this multi-stop leg is Nuie. We are sailing with crew members Michael and Priska. And on our way to Nuie, we passed the 10,000 nm mark since leaving Herrington Harbor, Maryland last October! That gives us about 18,000 nm total since we started sailing S/V Trillium five years ago!
There are limited accesses to the water from the cliffs.
Nuie is an interesting country. It's real name is Nukututaha and is known as the island that stands alone. It is a single island rather than a group of islands .Nuie is in the middle of nowhere in the South Pacific. It is 100 square miles with the highest point of only 68 meters. It is actually a limestone cap on an extinct volcano. The main town is Alofi.
This is the Mall! About 10 shops and restaurants total.

Nuie is the largest uplifted coral atoll in the world. It rises straight up out of the ocean so there are no real beaches. The cliffs are 20 meters high. It is somewhat out of the way of most cruisers and the anchorages are very deep. Our WARC group represents one quarter of the yachties they will see in a year. It is located at 19 degrees S and 169.55 degrees W. We are way out here!
The market gave me and my groceries a ride to the quay!
The Nuian people are very happy and friendly people. Always smiling, they greet you as you pass or enter their shops. Even the little children are eager to wave and say "hello." If not a native, most other people are from New Zealand. They, too, were very hospitable and helpful.
A lot of vegetation covers the
land with one road running
around the island.
It seems that in one of the many land invasions and power exchanges, Nuie ended up under the control of the English who then gave it to New Zealand to oversee. It was nice for us as English was spoken every where. We also learned that there are only about 1,500 people living there as 20,000 Nuians moved to New Zealand. Auckland is about a 3.5 hour flight away.
The WARC Reception at the High Commissioner's home

This has created a property problem. Since they live so far from Nuie, their family homes are in great disrepair. There are people living in nice homes next to numerous abandoned ones that are literally falling down around them. Similar to other decaying residential areas in cities and small towns with economic challenges. 
Touring one of the many caves.
The families who have left Nuie still claim ownership to the family land. Most of them hold the graves of their ancestors. This explained why there are large granite headstones like we have in the USA on the same property as the dilapidated houses. The family in New Zealand has obviously marked their property. Even though they don't live there or maintain it, it is still theirs.

We asked about property taxes. There are none! And there is no legal way to condemn the property and take it back or resell it. The result is the eyesores along the road!
Taking a break in the cave.

We here hosted by the Nuie Yacht Club, which we joined! It is known as "The Biggest, Little, Yacht Club in the World." They provided a barbecue one evening as well as a place to hang out and use the Internet. As usual, the Internet service on the island was challenging: dropped connections, low bandwidth and slow speed. It makes uploading photos a chore. 
The caves are open to the sea so at high tide one must be
very careful not to get caught in the flow.
Commodore Keith and his wife, Sue, are retired teachers who run a tour business. They took us to several caves that were amazing and to several places to snorkel. The geology of the island is so interesting.

Keith explained life on the island and told us about the highlights of the land and community. They came here for a teaching assignment and decided to stay. Now they are retired from teaching, but run their tour company. We found them most gracious.

There are huge caves where water washes in from the sea. All along the island road there is signage marking sea trails. These are places where you can access the sea and the caves on foot and discover secluded swimming holes. Expect to do a lot of climbing of stairs and steps to get there.
We attended a reception at the High Commissioner's home. Many of these small islands make arrangements to host the World ARC sailors to introduce them to their country. They enjoy having people visit. 
Getting the dinghy on shore was a challenge as there is no
beach or landing area. Due to the surge, it must be lifted.

Since we only had a 72 hour stop at Nuie, we needed to enjoy it as much as we could. One of the interesting experiences in Nuie was how you land a dinghy on their shores. Since the shoreline is steep with surging waves, they built a wharf with a crane.

Once you manage to get out of the dinghy and onto the steps, you hook your lifting straps to the crane and raise it up to the wharf. Then you set it down on a trolley and move it to a parking spot. The trolley is then placed for the next arrival to use. It was quite a slick system once we got it. Of course, everyone in the WARC helps each other, but it can be done by just two people.
Nuie did have a duty free store for visitors, but I still found the wine and alcohol prices very high. I guess that is why a vodka tonic can cost $15 - if they have tonic! And don't even think about ice! The duty free price for Absolut was slightly higher than at home, but I am spoiled by it being $10 a bottle in the Caribbean. In the markets along the way, I have seen the same size bottle for as high as $80! Fortunately, I am a cheap date and don't drink often.

Here are more photos from our daylong tour to the caves and snorkeling sites on Nuie. The caves were fascinating!

I couldn't resist shooting this bumper sticker!

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