Raining in Rarotonga

Rumpelteazer Pacific Crossing
Robert Holbrook
Fri 18 Apr 2008 23:29



While motoring up and down in the lee of the island of Atiu, sheltering from the wind and rain, we provided Sunday afternoon entertainment for the islanders, several of whom stood on the breakwater and watched, waved and shouted.  After about six hours, during which we all took turns at getting some sleep, we set sail again for Rarotonga, around 100 miles south west. 


We then had another 14 hours of wind and wet – 18 to 32 knots on the port beam, and on one occasion 48 knots just after Robert came on watch at 4am, with huge rollers coming at us from the south and with rain coming down again and again.  We had three reefs in the main and a very small jib.  At one stage we had green water rushing the whole length of the windward hull and completely blotting out the light from the large window in the saloon where we were all trying to keep dry.  This wasn’t in the brochure when we signed up!


We arrived off Rarotonga, our only shore stop in the Cook Islands, early on Monday morning, and despite its shortcomings, we were delighted to get into the little harbour of Avatiu.  There is very little protection from the still lumpy sea and we eventually decided against mooring ‘stern to’ to the concrete quay, and moved off to anchor away from the main harbour.  Our nearest neighbour is a big blue freighter which ended its useful life on the reef in strong winds in February this year. 


For the first two days in Rarotonga we had the same solid and really wet rain - we could not believe how wet it was.  We sent lots of clothes (and sheets & towels) to the launderette across the road and got into our oilies again to explore the town of Avarua.  We left Robert on board waiting for the man from the ministry of agriculture and fisheries who was due to come on board to fumigate us all and apparently confiscate every piece of ‘tropical’ fruit he found.  We had prepared and eaten huge quantities of papaya, melon, bananas and pineapples rather than have them taken away from us.  He never turned up!



Rarotonga is a delightful island – full of broad NZ/Polynesian accents speaking English (a relief after four weeks of us trying to speak French) and friendly smiley faces.  On Wednesday the weather eased. We hired a car and drove around the island (35 km) stopping off several times to watch the surf crashing high in the air along the reef. We also drove as high as we could into the interior of the island, with lush foliage and fruit and coconut trees growing in abundance.  In the evening we got tickets for the annual schools dance competition – over 1,000 children aged from 4 to 17, representing each of the nine schools and three colleges on the island, giving us fantastic displays of traditional dancing. Dignitaries (apart from us of course) included the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands.





The weather appears to be settling down, with lighter winds currently from the north-west but forecast to be going around to the east. In fact the easterly arrived during last night, requiring an interruption to sleep so that we could move Rumpelteazer away from the reef as we swung to the new wind.  We are leaving Rarotonga this evening or on Saturday morning, bound for Niue, 580 miles to the west.