Landfall in the Cook Islands

Rumpelteazer Pacific Crossing
Robert Holbrook
Mon 14 Apr 2008 00:05




On Wednesday, we welcomed Charles and Susie aboard from their colourful experience on a cargo ship bringing them from Papeete, by introducing them to our ‘elf and safety’ regulations.  With not a little experience of on-board safety demonstrations, they seemed to enjoy the process of fitting their harnesses


The next morning, just before we left the lagoon in Bora Bora, a huge manta ray leapt several feet out of the water only 30 feet or so from where Rumpelteazer was anchored.  And not long afterwards, as we motored out from the pass and back into the Pacific, we saw a large pod of whales – our counting was erratic, with Pippa seeing 15 and Andy 9 - which passed us around 100 yards away.  We felt these to be memorable farewells from a lovely island.


Since we left Bora Bora, we motored or motor sailed (and very occasionally sailed) in very light winds in a south-westerly direction towards the Cook Islands.  Our 24 hour logs for each of the past three days were 133, 134, and 157 miles (for the latter, 22 hours until landfall) at average speeds of 5.6, 5.5 and 7.2 knots. 


Yesterday, Saturday, was a weird day, weather-wise, with almost cyclonic conditions.  Beginning during the early hours, we had a day of thunder and lightning, and incessant rain squalls, some of them bringing no wind and others bringing winds of up to 25 knots, from varying directions.   At times we all retreated "indoors", sitting in the saloon with the door and windows firmly closed to keep out the rain.  But the good news was that we eventually got some stable wind, around 15 to 22 knots from the south east, and were able to sail on a fast port reach during most of the evening and night, despite the continuing rain squalls.


Captain Robert deemed that we deserved a rest, and anyway that at speeds of 9 knots we were likely to arrive at Rarotonga in the dark.  So we headed north to the coral fringed island of Atiu (the third largest atoll in the Cook islands).  Unfortunately it is not possible to anchor off as the depths are well over 100 metres even close to the reef, so we are having 'our rest' bobbing gently while motoring slowly up and down the leeward side of the reef.  Young boys on the shore have been waving and shouting at us but sadly we are not able to go ashore to be friendly and to explore the island.


Life on Rumpelteazer has settled back into its routine, with Charles and Susie taking over what had been Max’s watch and fishing duties.  So far, Susie has not been successful in the fishing department, but she has been seen reading the fishing book which had been of such help to Max. We are all optimistic!  She has however proved to be a great first-aider, prescribing antibiotics to tackle Pippa’s infected foot.  Robert had been seen changing the blade on his hacksaw in anticipation of an amputation.


Charles has proved a dab hand at electronics, and in understanding complicated and misleading instruction manuals, and he and Robert have enjoyed themselves sorting the tachometers for both engines.  They installed and re-calibrated a new tachometer, brought by Charles from the UK, for the starboard engine to replace the one which has not worked since we arrived in Shelter Bay.   Avid readers will recall that we discovered as we left Balboa, a faulty alarm on the port engine tachometer, and rather than returning to get it fixed, we had decided to disconnect the alarm.  We have now discovered the cause – faults in the circuitry – and a replacement black box will ordered in due course.


We leave here this afternoon, and our next landfall will be Rarotonga, the main port of entry into the Cook islands, some time tomorrow morning, Monday. (BST minus 11).  We are hoping the wind direction will allow us to make use of "Avatiu" - the very small commercial harbour.