Day 277, Year 1: Another Beautiful Day in Paradise
Date: Friday, July 21, 2006
Weather: Sun Mixed with Clouds
Location: Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

It is hard for me to believe that this is the fourth day that we have been here in Rarotonga. I have hardly had time to even take a picture of the island, but I’m hoping to take care of that problem tomorrow. We spent this morning getting ready for the Stuarts to move aboard tomorrow, and then this afternoon we did some in town exploring in the rental car. I realize that I haven’t described the island in detail in my logs and plan to being to do that little by little, starting with today’s log.

The Avatiu Harbor is small, very small. Only six boats can tie to the quay or concrete dock, and they say another six boats can anchor in the harbor. I have a hard time imagining that, but I think we will see how many boats will really fit here during the next week as we hear on the net that boats are headed this way. Rarotonga is about half the size of Moorea as it is only 32 kilometers around the island. The mountains here are also about half as tall as those on Moorea, but in other respects, the two islands are very similar. This island is actually a little more developed, however, and parts of it feel very city-like. When you get away from the “main drag” things change and it becomes a beautiful, lush island of green. Like Tahiti, Moorea, Raitea, and Bora Bora, this island has a fringing reef. That means that it has a coral reef surrounding it with a lagoon between the reef and the island. In French Polynesia, the lagoons were deep enough for boats to navigate, but here the lagoons are very, very shallow. That has allowed the Stuarts to walk in the lagoons and get great video and still shots of fish without using an underwater camera, but it means that we cannot take our boat into the lagoon and anchor. We miss that, but will just have to make the best of what we have. We are planning to leave here on Sunday morning and sail north to another island, Aitutaki. That will give the Stuarts some sailing experience and a chance to snorkel in a deeper lagoon. We will return here on Wednesday or Thursday and get ready for the celebrations that happen here between the end of July and the fourth of August-Constitution Day.

Tomorrow morning we will go to the local Saturday morning market to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables and then go and pick up the Stuarts. They will move aboard and then we plan to hike up to a waterfall on the south side of the island. I will have to “stand watch” in the car, but I will spend my time looking at the great new reef fish identifications books that Linda brought to us.

Tomorrow night we will attend an “island night” at one of the local resorts. This includes island food followed by an island dance performance. We can’t wait to see how the performances here compare to those we have seen in French Polynesia.

Note: The two photos attached to this log are of a beaked whale that beached itself on the island and died. It’s body was recovered and was being transported to a center for autopsy when I shot the photos in town today.