Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Man's Island: Suwarrow

If you want a beautiful and desolate island in the South Pacific, become to Suwarrow, Cooks Island located in the middle of nowhere! It is so peaceful here. For many years, Suwarrow was the home of Tom Neale, a New Zealand hermit. He is the author of the book "An Island to Oneself," which tells the story of his life.
I wonder what stories these anchors could tell
Neale lived here for over 35 years - alone. However, it is now a national park under the control of New Zealand so you cannot stay here unless you are on a boat. The rules say no food or beverages can be brought ashore. There is a caretaker in the six months when the most yachts call at the island. And like most national parks, you need a permit to visit. Upon request and with a small payment, you can have your passport stamped!
Our contribution to the Clean
Wake movement.
A lovely uninhabited island.
Currently they are trying to kill off a rat population and remove all pests from this little island. Some boat at some time must have brought them ashore when delivering mail or cargo here. We were there out of season with special permission granted to the World Cruising Club. Some of the boats chose to skip this stop, but I am glad we made it part of our experience.
This place looked like a Pacific island paradise.

Being supporters of the Clean Wake movement and the World Cruising Club, we spent time picking up trash. We collected a huge garbage bag of mostly plastic - primarily plastic bottles. Most were on the windward side of the island so they had washed ashore. We never put plastics overboard and make a point to reduce the amount of disposable plastic we use. Whenever possible we do as our granddaughter says: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

The Captain being a kid again!
I can't imagine being the caretaker here. There was no water or electricity on the island. I suppose they may bring solar energy sources with them. There are a couple of structures, one of which was his house. The other one is an open gathering place with what appears to be a small apartment on the second level. Black hammocks hung from palm trees are spaced around the island so you can hang out and soak it in! And the swing on the beach is popular with all ages of kids!
There is the Totem Family flag hanging in Suwarrow!
This shelter provides a gathering for visiting yachties who hang their flags. I am sorry I didn't print some S/V Trillium flags before we left shore last fall. It was fun to see the flag of our friends on S/V Totem who have been out here on the seas with their three children for six years now!

Black Tipped Sharks circled the boat regularly.
The snorkeling was great as there were many reefs in the anchorage area. You could just jump off the boat and swim over to a reef. The Black Tipped Sharks like to swim around the boat. I really did not like getting Into the water with them, but everyone says they are not harmful - only curious and want to play. Right!

Frustrated crew paddling to shore again!
One evening we all gathered on the beach to watch the sunset. It was fun to see others as many times the faster boats move on before the rest of us catch up. We had not seen the crews of several boats for weeks. We were only allowed a 72 hour stop here as part of a multi-part leg, so we have to weigh anchor and head off to Nuie. This will be close to 600 miles and we should log 10,000 nm since leaving the dock at Herrington Harbor last October!
Michael was very introspective and spent a lot of
time sitting on the bow of the boat.

We are sailing with a couple of new crew members on this leg: Priska, a nurse from Switzerland, and Michael, a journalist from Denmark. It makes for interesting dynamics between the different personalities, languages and experiences. There is much room for confusion and misunderstanding! However, it if fun to learn more about their lives and countries.
Priska had her own ideas about skippering!
Unfortunately for Michael, when he started the outboard motor here in Suwarrow, it quit on him after a few yards. So we were back to rowing or paddling the dinghy. The distances were not too far and the sea was relatively calm here, so it wasn't too much of a problem. It was just frustrating as we had just had it repair in Bora Bora!

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