19:03.29S 169:55.54 Tuesday 3rd June on a mooring buoy off Alofi, Niue,
It is hard to describe the confusion onboard when the engine stops working;
the engine is partly dismantled; the companionway steps are removed; the
coastguard and several other yachts are trying to offer assistance over the
radio; dangerous land is fast approaching; darkness is falling; the wind is
doing funny things and worst of all there is a 20lb yellowfin tuna flapping
around on the deck.
For the benefit of fellow yotties, the taro root is a potato-like vegetable
common in these parts that comes on a long stalk. In an emergency it makes a
fine club for dispatching tuna.
We are, of course, pretty experienced in bringing the boat into strange
locations entirely under sail, in the dark and with major equipment
malfunction (see blogs from Aruba). Unlike the Lithuanian boat 'Martha' that
piled up on the reef a couple of days before in similar circumstances. We
had a little help from our former crewman, Shin on the 'Gray Lady' RIB and
the crew of 'Andante' in locating a mooring buoy and then we were safe once
The weather has not been too special here but we rented a car and tried to
see the sights. Niue is an unusual raised atoll and so is mostly hard coral
limestone with many caves and sea-caves. A tour around the island in the
rain was a bit strange. There is a rapidly falling population here and there
are whole villages in the rain-forest that have been abandoned to rot. Like
in the Cook Islands there is also the unhealthy practice of burying Mom and
Dad on the front lawn in lavish style while the house behind falls down. In
some ways it is a very post-apocalyptic scene.
The people themselves though are very welcoming. The under-worked Police
happily issued us with local driving licences and the Premier himself gave a
speech and joined us for a beer where he told Colin of his great interest in
Welsh literature. Perhaps he also said the same to the French and Russians
over the fish and chip dinner in the Niue Yacht Club. Niue is the smallest
independent nation on the planet and everyone is good at politics.