Day 279, Year 1: Sunday in Rarotonga
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2006
Weather: Sun Mixed with Clouds
Location: Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

What a delightful day! We are still having days of mixed sun and clouds, sometimes with a little rain, but for the most part the weather has been great. The winds have switched to coming out of the northeast which causes the anchorage here to be very bouncy, but sometime tomorrow the winds should shift back to the southeast and things will be calm here again. We are still debating whether or not we should leave for Aitutaki in the morning or wait until Tuesday, but that decision will be in the AM when we check the wind direction. We are heading north/northeast and certainly don’t want to head out when the winds are coming from that direction. Once we get there, we will have to anchor on the outside of the reef because we are too deep to enter the lagoon there. Evidently they are filming a Survivor series there now and there are more than 400 crew on the island. Seeing this in action should be most interesting.

Linda and Michael headed out this morning on a cross-island hike. Mark drove them to the end of the road and then they hiked up to “the Needle”. This is a 413 meter spire known as Te Rua Manga. When they got to the Needle they found that there are chains bolted into the rocks that allowed them to climb up to the base but scaling the Needle would have been a very difficult climb. Linda and Michael chose the safe route and headed down the mountain to the south side of the island. Garrett, Mark, and I met them there and headed for the premier snorkeling site on the island. The coral here is basically dead but the fish life is incredible. Mark came back from snorkeling raving about the huge blue sea stars, and then Linda, Michael, and Garrett returned raving about the schools of fish they had seen. Lagoon snorkeling here is fantastic and I only hope that I will be able to do some snorkeling before we leave here.

After snorkeling we headed Maotangi Road and the trail head leading up to the top of Ikurangi (Tail of the Sky) or another that climbs to Te Manga. The hike up the Tail of the Sky is difficult but gives you a view of the whole wave-washed reef as well as the fruit and vegetable plantations. I know Linda and Michael will want to make this climb before leaving here. I know if my leg were not broken, I would certainly want to do this. We also visited the site of the Marae Arai-te-tonga-not as impressive as other maraes we have visited, but certainly a lovely spot.

We have been so busy that I have hardly mentioned the beaked whale that beached itself here and then became ill and died. That was two days ago. There is a Whale Center here that we have not visited, but it is a top priority as soon as we have time. The director, Nan Daeschler Hauser, is a PhD candidate at Southern Cross University in Australia. Other cruisers here have met her and even been invited to her home. I can’t wait to meet her and learn more about the beaked whales.

We are anchored next to the boat Linda from Helsinki, Finland. We first met Linda in Walliabou in St. Lucia. It is so much fun to meet up with people we have met previously.

So tomorrow we will either head to Aitutaki or wait until the next day and explore this island some more. Whichever will be fascinating.

060723 Day 279a Cook Islands, Rarotonga–Beaked Whale
060723 Day 279b Cook Islands, Rarotonga–Sunday Snorkeling and Explore
Day 280, Year 1: Headed to Aitutaki Through a Wall of Black Clouds
Day 278, Year 1: We’re Going to Be Grandparents