Beveridge before Niue paradise

Rumpelteazer Pacific Crossing
Robert Holbrook
Sun 27 Apr 2008 19:02




The wind arrived on Monday evening, 15-22 knots from the south east, and we were soon sailing, making great progress at over 8 knots.  We needed to slow down the final part of our voyage to Niue so that we arrived in daylight on the Wednesday morning.  So we decided to call in at Beveridge Reef, an almost submerged uncharted atoll 25 miles south of our original track.  Our electronic chart carried a warning note - ‘Beveridge Reef may be located 3 miles further to the north east’ - so arriving safely at the Reef required great navigational watchfulness. We approached from the south-west with extreme caution until we saw breaking waves on the horizon ahead of us.  Without any chart, we located the narrow entrance in the horseshoe-shaped western end of the reef and motored, against a 3 knot current, through the pass. 


The water in the lagoon was a mix of stunning turquoises and blues, peppered with a few coral heads.  We were completely alone, except for the wrecks of two fishing boats perched on the reef.  We motored the whole length of the lagoon (around four miles), anchored just inside the windward side of the reef and went snorkelling around it.  We saw a huge black manta ray swimming near us and a six-foot white-topped shark, as well as wonderfully coloured fish everywhere about us and sea urchins lurking in cracks in the coral.  Deserted paradise.


After a memorable four hour stay, we left the lagoon in mid afternoon to ensure maximum visibility of the coral heads, but sadly it was raining and we had to follow our GPS track back to the pass. We set sail south west for Niue, 120 miles away, and enjoyed 20 hours of fantastic sailing weather – 15 to 25 knots on the beam, with speeds of up to 12 knots, according to the GPS.


We saw Niue ahead of us just after sunrise on Wednesday, and sailed around the top of the island and down the west coast to Alofi.  Our radio contact with Niue Radio and then with the Niue Yacht Club was extremely efficient and friendly, and we picked up a NYC mooring in the open roadstead off Alofi.


Keith Vial, the NYC Commodore, met Robert on the quay, and greatly assisted us during our whole visit, from helping us sort out the customs and immigration formalities, taking us ‘whale watching’, with drinks in hand, on the terrace of the Coral Gardens motel at Makapu Point in company with other expat residents, to introducing us to such dignitaries at the Prime Minister, the Chief of Police and the New Zealand High Commissioner. 


Incidentally, the Coral Gardens Motel is the home of ‘the world’s toughest golf course’ – a single ‘par 1’ hole, over the sea, 90 metres from the tee on one cliff top to the hole on another, with $500 awarded to any hole-in-oners.  Andy tried twice and gave up.


On Thursday we had a great morning’s scuba diving with Annie and Ian Gray of Niue Dive (email: niuedive {CHANGE TO AT} niue {DOT} nu).  On the way to and from the dive site we had the company of a huge pod of spinner dolphins which seemed to enjoy swimming just ahead of our bow however fast our dive boat went.  We got towed gently through the water so that we could swim amongst them.  Our dives were fantastic, and we found the large numbers of sea snakes, unique to Niue, much less frightening than we had imagined.  We highly recommend Niue Dive, but book in advance, as they are rightly very busy.

Yesterday, Friday was ANZAC Day and we duly dressed Rumpelteazer overall, and went ashore at 5.30am in our crew shirts to join the throng of Niueans attending the annual remembrance event.  Unfortunately it was raining, so that everyone got wet and the speeches and presentations of medals (which took rather a long time) became a trial for the participants, and the policemen waiting to fire their rifles in salute, as well as for the observers.  However the floral wreaths laid on the memorials were glorious, and Keith took our picture with the Prime Minister, so getting wet was all part of the experience.




We hired a car and explored the island, stopping to visit several of the spectacular caves inside the cliffs, many of which are home to the islanders’ outrigger canoes.  The road around the island, at times only single track and made from ground-up coral and tarmac, connects 14 tiny ‘villages’, several of which appeared to have no more than a few inhabited dwellings. The population of Niue is around 1,400, and almost everyone we have seen was keen to stop and talk with us.


In the south of the island we dropped in on the Vaiea Noni Farm, which grows and processes noni juice for the international healthcare market, and were shown around by Tom and his wife.  We got back in time to host a tea party on Rumpelteazer for Annie (of Niue Dive) and her delightful children, Tofi and Tahi.


Today, Saturday, has been a more ‘domestic’ day, with a lot of clothes washing, and an unsuccessful search for bananas.  Fortunately Julie, the vice commodore’s wife, had given us three papayas from her garden.  Robert and Andy went off with Ian to do more scuba diving in some of the nearby caves, meeting a five foot shark in a confined and dark space which didn’t sound much fun to the rest of us. 


Tomorrow, Sunday, we set sail early for Tonga, 230 miles north of west, planning to arrive in the Vava’u group of islands on Wednesday, just after we cross the International Date Line.