Cook Islands

Graham Shaw
Wed 14 Sep 2011 05:29
After four days at sea we arrived in Aitutaki in the southern part of the Cook Islands. Below, the sun is just setting behind our spinnaker.  The last part of the trip the wind went very light so we motored to Aitutaki, and in through the narrow pass to the anchorage off the town.
Apparently one of the "must-do" things in the Cook Islands is to attend a church service if nothing else, to hear the unaccompanied hymn singing.  The church is a very important part of the lives of the islanders, and was pretty full, and indeed the singing awe-inspiring.
After church we headed out onto the lagoon in the dinghy, along with the crews of Karinya and Takalani, who were next to us in the anchorage.  We had a picnic on the beach, including parrot fish just caught and cooked polynesian style by Stof from Takalani:
Lucas very much enjoyed playing with Callum and Jessica, the kids from Karinya.  We spent the afternoon snorkelling in amazingly clear water, seeing the giant clams which are famous here - they can live to be over a hundred years old, and are enormous.
A local resident by the name of Larry insisted on taking us round in his car on a tour of the island, which was very interesting.  Sadly we didn't have the camera with us, as we had only gone ashore to see Customs, so there are not too many photos this time.  All the people here have been very welcoming and friendly, and it is a wonderful place.  We shall be leaving tomorrow, bound for the very remote Palmerston Atoll.  We'll write more about the history of Palmerston next time, but it is only a few acres of land in the middle of the ocean, with about 70 inhabitants.  The supply ship visits very rarely, so we have been asked to take some stuff along with us - we are expecting a delivery this afternoon of sacks of flour and rice, etc.
I end this blog on two very sad notes - firstly we have just learned of the death of our friend Hilary back in Jersey.  We knew that she was not well, and had very much hoped that we would see her when we return home, but it was not to be.  We regret not being able to be there to support John, but know that he will have many friends and family around him, and our thoughts are with him at this very sad time.  Secondly, we are sad to report the loss of another cruising boat, wrecked on the reef at Palmerston.  I'm sure we have mentioned our friends on the boat "Ri Ri" in previous blogs, Frank and Gail.  They are both ok, but totally shell-shocked.  Gail was ashore at the time, and Frank was on board.  We understand that the mooring they were secured to parted somehow, and the boat was carried up onto the coral before Frank was able to do anything about it.  They have apparently managed to salvage a lot of the equipment from Ri Ri, but the boat itself is now a total loss.  We may be the next boat passing through Palmerston, so have offered to take Frank and Gail on to Nuie or Tonga, the next places from where they could fly home.  We will report more on this next time.