Suvarov (Or Suwarrow)

Southern Princess
John & Irene Hunt
Fri 30 May 2008 04:46
This is going to be a few days of rambling notes while here in this magic place. Try and find a copy of Tom Neale's 'An Island to Oneself'; having had a short visit a shore it is just as described in his book.
"Onelife" an Italian yacht in our fleet decided to make spaghetti for all 16 yachts (around 50 people) ashore and it developed into a pot luck dinner where most yachts contributed something., Irene whipped up a green salad and a huge cheese plate with pickles etc. Everyone took their own grog and as the evening progressed, Jerry off "Northern Sky" and John Samuela our friendly Suvorov warden took up guitars and sang the night away. John, wife Veronica and four boys spend 6 months of each year on Suvorov managing the sail through of yachts during the season. John says that it very unlikely that they have a day with out any visiting yacht in the whole 6 months. A friendly man, with a few rules to ensure that his island stays pristine.
The following was written by Mandy Parker our WARC fearless leader and Lorraine Steele our fearless crew. Thanks ladies it makes my job a lot easier!
We depart for Niue on Saturday and will follow up with a few posting from sea.
Love to all
Perfect Day in Suworrow
After a wonderful beach party based around the superb fish pasta cooked by the crew of "Onelife"  a tour of the more remote islands of the atoll was planned for Wednesday. The beach party had started early so the cooking could be done in daylight which was just as well, after the supper all were entertained until late by singing and guitar music from Gerry of Northern Sky and Will from Cleone with a guest appearance by John Samuela.

"I woke with a yell in the middle of the night as a sudden pain transfixed my leg so violently that it felt as though my calf had been slashed open with a knife. I bent down to touch my leg and felt the sticky wetness of blood and became aware of something shuffling close beside my hand. I had forgotten those damned coconut crabs!"
Tom Neale, 'An Island to Oneself'

New Zealander Tom Neale spent six years alone on the coral island of Suwarrow in a period spanning the 1950s and 1960s. And Wednesday morning, under a thicket of palm trees, Tom's description came crashing back to mind. Held aloft by Suwarrow's Caretaker John, a coconut crab - weighing 2kg, the length of a large lobster, but twice the width - waves gigantic claws  at the assembled yachties.  Able to slice through a coconut, or a human hand, with ease, these giants of the crab world make fabulous eating.  So we're told, as Suwarrow is a national park the crab was left  to crawl back down its basketball size hole.

The day began at 9.30am - a flotilla of dinghies buzzed out of Anchorage Bay, led by John, his wife, and four sons, and head for Bird Island, 5 miles away.  On arrival we were greeted by a black cloud of screeching and swooping terns.  Underneath them, grounded, were 1000s of fluffy fledgling chicks, and eggs - lying perfectly camouflaged on the rough coral sand. Showing up the bad-parent terns the plump white, red-billed bosun birds, sat resolutely on their nests.  Bosun birds (or tropic birds as they are known here) stay glued to their nests until their eggs have hatched.

The crews walked around Brushwood Islands, One Tree Island, and Turtle Island and waded across the adjoining lukewarm shallow reefs. These islands are strictly out of bounds under normal circumstances, but World Cruising had arranged access and guidance.  As our thank you to the island, we combined our visit with an island clean up.  A cyclone has gone through since last season, and a kaleidoscope of flotsam and jetsam had washed up on the island.   Here 'in the middle of nowhere', 200 miles from the nearest island, we found flip-flops, fishing buoys, plastic bottles, heavy rope, a half full jar of coffee and numerous toothbrushes.  The find of the day was
an aluminium dinghy, buckled and bent, but still floating.  Imagine the scene - a cruising yachtie waking up in the morning, crying, 'where's the dinghy gone!!'  It's stamped 'Made in Auckland, New Zealand' if anyone's missing a dinghy.

This find ignited a seed of worry amongst the yachties, the tide had come in, but back at  the landing spot all dinghies were safely tied up in the turquoise lagoon. On the way back to Anchorage Island John topped off a fabulous morning by offering to take the group snorkelling.  A short motor from the shore, and the crews plunged into a coral garden, next to a deep drop off.  They swam with turtles, black tipped sharks, parrot fish, iridescent blue miniature fish, and admired frilly blue clams and pink, orange, yellow, blue corals.

Back at the anchorage Maamalni the last World ARC boat to leave Bora Bora for Suwarrow had dropped anchor completing our group. There is a couple of days more to relax in paradise before the start of Leg 8 a two part leg including a stop in Niue before going on to Tonga.

Lorraine Steele and Mandy Parker
A flotilla of dinghies departed the Anchorage for a great outing.