Niue 3-9 July - The biggest little Yacht Club in the world
Niue 3-9 July 2019 - The biggest little Yacht Club in the world
Wednesday, 3rd July
We all slept so good, no rough sea or being tossed around the bed. I think we all needed our beauty sleep. Today was a recovering and fixing with the authority day following our rough but speedy crossing from Cook Islands.
The first thing that struck us is that the water is so crazy clear, we can see the bottom from the boat which is around 19-20 m deep. This is going to be interesting to explore the following days.
We called the Niue Radio on channel 16 to arrange a clearing-in appointment and we would meet them at the wharf at 10.30 am. We all went in with the dingy to the wharf and realised that everyone seems to lift their dinghy with the help of the crane on the wharf. So yet again a new experience for us but we managed with the help of some other people around. It is quite good as there is quite a lot of swells and not a lot of space to leave the dinghies.
The authority came in time and we sat in the small hut overlooking the wharf completing all the paperwork for health, biohazard, customs and immigration. My god there are a lot of papers to be filled in, sometimes I wonder if they every thought of sending these in advance to people so that they can prepare these beforehand…
Once we were cleared we made our way to the Niue Yacht Club (the biggest little yacht club in the world), it moved since the last time mom and dad where here but it was just up the ramp and on a small square together with some mini convenient stores. Brian, the yacht club owner, was still the same guy as before and we spoke to him about the cost of the buoys, received the shower keys and he told us where we could find the closest store.
We walked passed the visitors information which was very informative and we received a quite detailed map of what to visit and when to visit the locations due to the tides. In addition, we learned that they have coconut crabs here as well but they are called Ugas here. I’m not sure if I mentioned that one of the hermit crabs on Mopelia pinched a hole into my middle fingers nail and I thought it was very odd. Turns out that smaller Ugas live in shells the first part of theirs life and this was one of them who pinched me. I knew that a hermit crab would never do that to me!
Apparently, the main supermarket relocated from being really close to the wharf to now being 2,8 km away. What should we do!? We started walking as we needed to stock up the fridge and freezer but didn’t realise how far away it actually was. A really nice lady stopped on the side of the road and asked us where we were going and said that is too far, let me drive you there. So nice of her! I guess they all know when yachties are here as they all seem to have cars on the island so we are the weirdos who are walking around with no clue how far it actually is.
Anyways, we arrived at the supermarket and bonds and stocked up on some wine and small bits and bobs for snacks as we couldn’t really carry more in our backpacks. Off we went again to walk back to the yacht club but then another nice little family with a small van stopped and said that they had seen us in the supermarket and offered us a ride. People are so nice here! Turns out that the man was originally from Tonga and he informed us that he believed that there is less than 2000 people leaving in Niue. They kindly dropped us off in front of Gill’s Indian restaurant which had a special lunch deal - $5 for a veg/chicken/beef roti so we stayed there for a quick lunch and a beer in the sun.
Back to the yacht club where you are allowed to place your wine in his fridge and drink it at the yacht club. Perfect! We did stop for some wine but filled the glasses with ice - it was nice to have some NZ sauvignon blanc wine rather than beer now. We did ask Brian about the internet on Niue and turns out it is almost the same as on French Polynesia and Cook Island where one provider seemed to have monopoly and you have to pay for it so no free WiFi anywhere. Eventually we did find another non-commercial provider which was cheaper and could reach the boat. Perfect for us! We all did some internetting and went back to the boat to relax, eat good food and drink some nice cold wine.
I have noticed a very funny thing not only on Niue but on the islands of French Polynesia and Cook Islands and it is that they have chickens and roosters running around everywhere. It seems like they all do not have any specific owner, they are just running around.
Thursday, 4th July 2019
Me and Alex we did some snorkelling off the boat today, it is incredible again how clear the water is here. During our 1 hour snorkelling we saw 5-6 sea snakes, loads of beautiful fish and an abundance of healthy corals. I don’t think you appreciate the fact that there are millions of corals everywhere. In addition, you really do not realise how deep the water is due to it being so clear.
It is truly a special place and we think it might be so clear as it is a little cooler in the water (25 degrees) and that Niue is a rock island so not too much silt floating around. On the way back to the boat we had a reef sea bass following us and coming really close to us which freaked me out a little. He looked a bit mean and was not at all afraid and tried to chase it away but it wouldn’t have it. I was quite happy once we managed to get to the boat at that time but apparently it came back when Alex was still in the water. Haha
I think mom and dad was fixing a little with the boat when we were snorkelling. Apparently, whilst we were sailing in the rough seas two of the rollers that guide the furling lines of the yankee were the welding snapped. Mom and dad managed to fix it which was good but I think we were all a bit surprised that it had happened. It was still a half lazy day but I think we all still needed to recover from the sailing.
Mom and dad also saw another sailing yacht in the bay that they had met before which was nice. They contacted us through the VHF and it was decided that we would all meet and go for happy hour drinks at the mini-golf place at around 5. We all went in together with the dinghies and walked over - this would be mine and Alex first happy hour with other fellow sailors during this trip. We were a total of 8 people - Mom and dad, Torsten and Hille (Infinity -German couple), Margot and Jean (Otter 2 - French Belgian/Dutch couple) and Alex and I. They are a really nice fun bunch and we had some beers and snacks there.
After a few beers we all moved to Gill’s Indian restaurant and had a good meal which nice company and a few more beers and glasses of wine. It will be fun to see how this will go with the dinghy but in the end it was no problem. We all helped out and managed to get in safe and sound.
It seems like sailing can be compared to backpacking in some ways - once you choose a sailing route you will definitely meet people you have met on the way throughout the route just like with backpacking.
Friday, 5th July 2019
We were woken up by dad and he said there is a Humpback Whale in the bay - apparently the whale season here is between July to September. We of course all ran up and just about saw it dive down. It was a beautiful small humpback which then appeared again after about 15 minutes whilst we were prepping breakfast. This time it stayed on the surface a bit longer so that we could admire it a bit more. He did a beautiful dive with the tale arching up into the air before he disappeared into the deep blue. I can’t believe we saw a humpback whale! Let's hope he is not the only one and we see more moving forward.
We decided that we wanted to rent a car for a few days to explore the island as it is small but big enough for you to need a car. We had spoken to Brian beforehand and he said that he would arrange a cheap car for us and told us to be at the yacht club around 10.30 am for the pick up. So we were there on time but we had to wait quite a while before the car finally arrived. It was such a weird handover of the car, they just basically asked: 'did you want to rent a car?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Okay, this is it’. No paper, no driver license check, only half of the payment as we didn’t have all the cash on us and then but we had a car. We were supposed to rent the car for 2 days but they said we pick it up here on Sunday at 5.00pm so we basically paid for 2 days but got the car for almost 3 days.
We jumped in to the car and drove straight to the Supermarket and Bonds (duty free shop) to do some shopping. So much quicker with the car! We bought some stuff for the lunch (tuna wraps/sandwiches) and then bought a load of duty free wine, gin and beer. You are allowed to buy duty free alcohol twice, once when you arrive and once when you leave.
Today we wanted to explore the South Side as we only got the car quite late.
1st stop: Matafaga i Anaana (lookout point) - This is a whale watching site and lookout point, beautiful views over the rough seas below. Unfortunately, no humpback whales in sight this time. Maybe the guy we saw this morning was a bit of a loner…?
2nd stop: Anaana Burial Cave - We though this would be a long walk down to a cave by the water but it was just a small ancient burial by the road where you could see some bones on the ground under the cave overhang.
3rd stop: Tamakautoga Beach: We came to a cafe that looked completely abandoned overlooking a beautiful small white sandy beach and the reef. What a sight and so sad that see that this place is no longer running. We went down to the beach and the reef to have a look around and it is still incredible how clear the water is. We are still wondering if it is abandoned or if it is not yet the season as mom and dad found beer in a cooling bag in the old kitchen.
4th stop: Avatele beach and Ramp - Nice rocky beach with a small channel between the reef and a ramp for the fishermen to use. There were some picnic tables with the view of the small bay and they even had showers and toilets with fresh water. Great place for us to have a picnic and to enjoy a glass of wine or some beers. We all went for a snorkelling session, it is a bit strange here as the water is a little brackish. It is when fresh water and salt water mixes which creates a hazy layer in the water. But once you dive down under the layer it is really clear, we saw some nice colourful coral fish, a puffer, sea snakes but couldn’t stay in the water that long as it was a little bit nippy (probably due to the fresh water siping into the sea). We had a quick shower and after Alex went wild on one of the coconuts and managed to open it on a stone. Quite impressive!
Our 5th and last stop for the day: Anapala Chasm - We descended over 155 steps down to the small fresh water pool. This was apparently a main source of fresh water for the surrounding villages and was stored and carried in hollowed coconuts. Quite interesting but very dark and probably would have been better to be here at around noon when the sun is high up on the sky.
We drove back to Alofi on one of the main roads crossing the island, it is very green and lush here as well. When we arrived back to Alofi we decide to have a glass of wine at the Tomb Point overlooking the Sir Robert’s wharf and the bay before going down to the sea track to walk onto the reef whilst it was low tide. It was amazing to walk around the beautiful corals and look into the small pools of water created by the tide - so calm and serene. One of the locals was collecting some clams and sea creatures, she showed us what she was hunting for and gave us a taster. It was not great - it tasted like very bitter scallops but not in a good way. Quite interesting to see that they are still forging for these sea creatures.
Today there was also local organic market which turned out to be a bit odd, they had a few baskets with some organic fruits (breadfruit, coconuts, noni and passion fruits) and some people sold what I believed was home-cooked curries. Not sure what we expected but it was not this - it felt more like a local social event rather than a market where they wanted to sell stuff. We didn’t stay long and went back home to the boat and cook some food and relaxed. Me and Alex enjoyed the starry sky and did some start gazing before going to bed.
Whilst we have been driving around we have notice that there are not a lot of graveyards here on the island or by the church (just a small one with a few graves). Instead it seems like they have their family members buried right in front of their hours in their backyard. I’m not sure if I would like that arrangement but they are beautifully decorated. In some cases it seems like they bury their family members on very strange places along the main roads as well, again not sure what arrangements they managed to do. Still very nice to drive pass and look at it, sometimes you see a chair or a sun bed next to the graves.
Saturday, 6th July 2019
We fixed some stuff on the boat whilst mom cooked lunch for todays sightseeing.
This is the second day we had the rental car and today we wanted to explore the North Side a bit. When we were taking up the dinghy at the wharf, a fishing boat with a small family arrived as well. They lifted up the boat and lifted their catch up with the crane - it was a massive Wahoo. Quite interesting to see - it was bigger then the little boy.
We went passed the highest point of the island, 69m - however, we missed it as it was not marked anywhere.
1st stop for the day: Uluvehi - a nice view point of the wild sea crashing into the wall beneath us. There was also some caves that you could walk into which had a typical Va’a (local canoe) stored inside.
As we had been fixing with the boat we didn’t do too many stops before lunch and we drove passed the supermarket before driving back up north to Matapa Chasm.
2nd stop: Matapa Chasm - This was a beautiful stop for our lunch which also allowed us to snorkel after. Apparently this was a traditional bathing place for Niue’s kings. The water there was quite cold due to the fresh water mixing with the salt water, again creating a hazy top layer of brackish water. Alex and I went for a snorkelling session which was nice but not too much to see just interesting to swim in the area. I did sea a small Murray eel tucked in-between 2 big stone boulders. Small side note: We met a couple before we went down and asked them how the snorkelling was - the woman replied that it is okay but the water is a bit hazy due to the large amount of sunscreen there is in the water. She couldn’t be more wrong!
3rd stop: Hikutavake Sea Track - Alex and I quickly jumped into the water to have a small snorkelling session in the semi-wild water and to see what was going on in the ‘pools’ created by the tides. Again, you cannot stop to appreciate how clear the water is! It is amazing! We didn’t spend too much time here but took the chance to swim as it was next to Matapa Chasm.
4th and last stop: Limu Pools - This was quite a special place, they say that this is one of the best swimming/snorkelling places in Niue. Nature created these big ‘pools’ which is connected to the sea with small channels which makes it calm inside of the ‘pools’. We all went for a snorkelling session here. You can experience the brackish water here as well but some parts are super clear and there is so much healthy corals everywhere on the island which is so nice to see. Alex and dad swam into the channel but got stuck in the current but luckily they were both okay as they threw themselves onto the reef to ensure that they didn’t get hurt. The current can be very deceiving here but all good in the end. We don’t see too much fish but I can only imagine that this is due to all the good hiding places this island offers due to the abundance of corals and rocky bottom.
It is very odd to see but now when we have been around the island you see so many abandoned houses, cafe/restaurants along the way. Very strange! We thought that it might be due to Niueans have dual nationality - Niue and New Zealand passports so maybe a lot of the young people leave to New Zealand? Need to confirm that with someone later.
We drove back to the yacht club as we had promised Torsten and Hille from Infinity that we would take them to the supermarket as we have a car. Turned out that they only needed tomatoes so Margot from Otter 2 came instead. Alex and I went back to Sans Peur to have some R&R time.
When mom and dad came back, Torsten and Hille called us over the VHF and invited us all for a sundowner drink on their boat. We had a really nice evening with them with a few delicious G&Ts and some small snacks. Torsten told us that he spices up his gin himself - this is definitely something I will do when we are back in Europe. It was also so nice for me and Alex to see another boat from the inside - Hille did the big tour. It was a great end to a great day.
Sunday, 7th July 2019
Last day with our little rental car and we wanted to ensure that we cover the last things that we didn’t cover the last couple of days. Mom prepared a nice Spanish tortilla which then mom stepped on when going into the dinghy. It was hilarious - thank god that we had a bag around it. I had to take a photo as you could almost see the toes in the food.
1st stop: Hikulagi Sculpture Park - It was a collection of art made of trash, the biggest one was a large structure with loads of parts from microwaves, fridges, fans, antennas etc. I guess the picture will give a better picture. There was another small hut looking structure which had different artwork in it which looked like they had found them in or around the sea. I kind of liked that one better than the big structure. Interesting little park to visit.
2nd stop: Togo Chasm - It was a bit of a walk through the forest and after leaving the bush behind you are met by an alien looking landscape of jagged fossilised corals. When you have finished the decent you are met by a big wooden ladder leading down to a small golden sandy beach with coconut trees growing. Quite cool to see but it is a bit of a bizarre sight as it feels like it doesn’t belong there. Alex went to explore and climbed to the other side of some jagged coral rocks and when he came back it looked almost like a true cast away scene - finally I reached civilisation. I guess you have to be there to understand what I mean.
We stopped by Avatele beach ramp which was full of people, I don’t think we saw so many people at one place during our whole time here at Niue. (Okay, maybe at the happy hour place…) I guess Sunday is the lords day and family day for people here. We sat down at our usual spot and had a nice and quick lunch before going to the our last stop
3rd stop: Talava Arches - It was a bit of a challenge to walk down to the arches due to the really sharp and fossilised corals so you need to be really careful when you walk and look down all the time. We should maybe have taken some other shoes instead of flip flops but we managed with our any bigger wounds. We walked through a small cave with stalagmites and stalactites structures and reached the end of the path. Really beautiful view of the arches and the reef beneath it. Really happy we made the effort to go here today, it was a shame that the tide was not right and we were unable to walk on the reef to come closer to the arch.
After the 2 longer walks today we thought we deserved a cold beer at the Hip Beach Cafe and then headed back to the wharf to get onto the boat again. Me and Alex did a final snorkelling session around the boat to check if we could find the green bucket that we lost overboard yesterday evening. No luck this time… We had nice dinner and relaxing time in the evening, I think we were all quite tired after the adventures and hikes we had today.
Monday, 8th July 2019
Today was a big fixing day as we are starting to prepare for the crossing over to Samoa this week. It was also not great weather so it was kind of perfect to do this today.
Alex and I were hand sewing the spray hood to ensure that nothing breaks whilst we are sailing.
Mom and dad was fixing a leak from the lifting keel. Not good! But they managed to mend it in the end and restricting the leakage. I think mom and dad will put Sans Peur on the dry to ensure they can try to figure our how this happened and fix it properly before commencing on their journey towards Australia.
It was a quite productive day and time went so fast. Infinity are also planning to go to Samoa and there was some talk about us all going together on Wednesday morning as the wind seems to be better then. We will see, they always seems to change from day to day.
We had a well deserved G&T and had dinner. Relaxing time!
Tuesday, 9th July 2019
It has been decided, we are leaving today and not tomorrow. Brian had told us that we can check in during the weekend in Samoa and it seems like the winds might be on our side.
Me and Alex had a last long snorkelling session as this would be our last chance and swam around for about 1 hour. Really nice and it is so nice when you have a half suit as this allows you to be in longer - the water here feels colder (maybe 25 degrees - I know it is not that cold but we have been spoiled the last 6 months).
Mom and dad fixed the last things in the engine room to ensure that it was clean and we had enough oil in Mr. Perkins.
We did some laundry and hung it up so that it would dry before we leave. Prepared a big spaghetti bolognese to ensure we have easy food to eat as you never know how much the boat will move when we are on open sea.
We hoisted Alex up in the mast to unhook the 2nd yankee we put up for the crossing towards Niue but the winds are different this time so no need for it. It was a bit of a faff but we managed to get the sail down and folded it and put it in the storage. One major thing done! Mom and dad went with Brian to the immigration to clear out and do some final shopping.
Once we felt we were ready we lifted anchor and off we went at 5.00pm. Dad made a small ‘good bye’ circle around the other boats so that we could wave and honk our good byes. It felt quite steady and nice in the beginning but you never know what will happen once you leave the islands leeway. It was quite a nice first night sail with okay winds and not too rocky. Lets hope this will be the case the next few days with a little bit more wind.