Astra Blog: Rarotonga, Cook Islands 07.09.08 - 13.09.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Thu 9 Oct 2008 08:06


Astra Blog: Rarotonga, Cook Islands 07.09.08 – 13.09.08





Our time in Rarotonga started industriously: we were in the way of a supply ship so, after just a couple of hours sleep, we were up at 0700 to move from where we were anchored to Mediterranean style mooring against the wall. While George returned to his slumbers, Sally cooked a big breakfast to set the troops up for their jobs. With the engines refuelled, Jeremy set about investigating the GPS and autopilot situation while Ash did a rig check, replaced gaskets on leaky hatches, repaired the fibreglass on the outboard, and a gel coat repair next to the cockpit. Sally gave Astra a clean from top to bottom, saving the galley for George when he finally decided to get out of bed!


Lazy Sunday Afternoons


Sally and Jeremy then went out to celebrate a spotless yacht and re-functioning GPS’s by trying to find somewhere to watch the US Open. They returned a few hours later having hitched and taxied their way around the island. Unfortunately they found nowhere for Sally to get her tennis fix.


George and Ash also popped ashore to investigate the night life but came home as the promise of a roast dinner was a lot more exciting than Rarotonga’s nightlife on a Sunday.


Yacht Rescues


On Monday morning, Jeremy woke Ash at some unearthly hour to inform him that a yacht was arriving with no engine and would like assistance.  This had barely sunk in before Jeremy had deposited him on a yacht half a mile offshore in rough seas in order to sail them in through the pass!  It was no easy task due to the big swell, strong currents and the tiny harbour entrance (which already has the wreck of a large cargo ship to one side of it).  Nevertheless they made it through and as sails were lowered, a team of tenders from Astra, Zulu, Tupenny, Ino and Aphrodite helped manoeuvre the yacht and moor it stern-to against the wall.


Their pilotage skills were again called upon a couple of hours later to moor Aphrodite stern-to in a small gap against the wall.  Jeremy (slightly to his surprise) found himself at the helm of Aphrodite while Ash took on tug duties in the tender to try to hold her bow against the appreciable cross-wind.  It was a perfectly executed manoeuver; Jeremy managed to pop the 25 tonne yacht in the gap at full speed with little bother.




We decided that it would be a good idea to rent some scooters to see the island: not just a convenient form of transport but also a whole lot of fun. It is possible to circumnavigate the island in under an hour and with this aim in mind, George and Ash set off with Findlay, Phil and Pete from Zulu. We took a little bit longer to get around on account of a couple of stops for refreshment. The scooters turned out to be a great source of amusement and entertainment as the week progressed, with everybody crashing at some stage or another, some more spectacularly than others. First prize in scooter incompetence went to George who managed to drive into a lamp post; fortunately both scooter and driver emerged unscathed. 


Emma’s Birthday


It was a huge relief when we saw Ino arrive in Rarotonga: we had been slightly concerned about how well they would fare in the bumpy seas and strong winds we encountered on our crossing. Fortunately they made the journey without any major dramas and they were very pleased to come into the harbour and moor next to us. Their arrival also meant that we would be able to spend Emma’s 21st birthday with her. We had already celebrated her birthday in Bora Bora but it was nice to be able to do it again on the day. It was a great night with crews from Ino, Astra, Zulu, and Aphrodite going out for a traditional Rarotongan meal before spending another enjoyable evening in the Whatever Bar.


Ash’s haircut


Ash has been threatening a haircut for months and finally went through with it in Rarotonga. He went off to see a 7 foot transvestite who effected the metamorphosis from beach bum to something slightly more respectable. 


Tere Marsters


As we prepared to leave Rarotonga for Palmerston we were introduced to Palmerston’s Mayor, Tere Marsters. He was delighted to find out that we would be stopping at his island and asked if we could take some cargo with us. Over the next few days he returned to Astra bringing more and more boxes and bags and even a couple of bedside tables. In one of Tere’s many visits he discovered that George was a teacher and asked him if he would be able to stop on Palmerston for a few months to teach. An intriguing prospect, it gave George a lot to think about: teaching in a school of 14 students on an island with about 50 residents for an undisclosed period of time – the only way he would be able to get off the island is when a cargo ship comes in December. After mulling over the idea for 24 hours George decided that it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and therefore not one to miss. After George did a very hasty bit of provisioning to prepare for life on a near-deserted island, we left Rarotonga for Palmerston.