Fw: Togo Chasm, Niue

Dick and Irene Craig
Mon 7 Jun 2010 05:49

On the penultimate day of the trip to Niue, we removed the sailbag. The
batons were protruding by over a metre and we couldn't get them back. The
sailbag had moved 1/3 of the way along the boom towards the mast and was
getting caught in the pulleys as we managed the reefing of the mainsail.
Despite the extra UV on the sail, I have to say that it does look smarter.
We have never been very pleased with the sailbag. It ripped within just one
week of taking delivery of the boat.
After a couple of hours with the wind no more than 23 knots, I had to insist
that the afternoon watch put a reef in the sail. This is something we do
automatically once the wind hits 25knots. The wind had been blowing 27-30
knots for half an hour and we were sailing in excess of 11knots, surfing off
the waves and slamming into big seas as if we were on a close reach,
although we were on a beam reach. The watch keeper was more in tune with the
speed rather than comfort and safety.
Incorporating a reef in the mainsail and the genoa made the boat much more
stable and reduced the speed by two or three knots. It was now much more
feasible to prepare supper.
About 8.30, the full moon lit up the previously black night and around 9pm,
the wind went down so we were able to shake out the reefs.
I can provide so many excuses but at the end of the day it was just plain
thoughtlessness that I accidentally threw the paddle wheel from the
breadmaker over the side. I had known that this can happen easily. It has
happened to so many sailors that I am paranoid about washing the paddle and
putting it aside to dry before I even empty the bread-pan. On this occasion
it just didn't happen and now I have to make the bread by hand until we get
a new paddle, hopefully sent from the UK via one of the people joining the
WARC in Fiji, or by purchasing a new bread-maker.
The second dose of microwaving for 30seconds did NOT kill all of the
critters in the flour so I have now repacked it in 1Kg bags, other than
those already weighed to a lesser weight for pizza, cakes etc. and zapped
each bag for 1 minute. Of the 20Kg on board I do not know which bags have
been contaminated. I do not want to throw the flour away as I don't know
when I might be able to replace it, or whether any freshly purchased flour
will be in any better condition.
When I made the dough for the rolls this morning, I was horrified at all the
foreign bodies which floated from the flour, when I added the water. All
flour is now religiously sieved before use.
Having not been able to open the hatches due to the inclement weather, not
to mention the quantities of sea washing over the decks, the cabin is
beginning to smell as if some mould spores have started to wake up. I
switched on the air-conditioning in an attempt to counteract this and now we
are moored in calm seas, am able to take a cloth to it.
At the quayside there is a dinghy hoist which we use to lift the rib from
the water when we go ashore. At present we could get by without this but if
the weather changed when we were ashore, accessing the dinghy could be
untenable, assuming the dinghy was not destroyed.
There was a BBQ on shore at Niue Yacht club the first night here. It was
attended by all the participants from those WARC boats on mooring buoys as
well as the members of the local walking club. A great night was had by all.
We are now 11 hours behind GMT.
Next day Dick and I shared a rental car with David and Susan from Voyageur
and explored the island. We went to Togo chasm, walking for twenty minutes
through the forest towards the coast where the coral made me think of a
petrified forest. Climbing down a vertical ladder we found ourselves in a
white, sandy chasm, peppered with palm trees. From here we made our way
through the cave to the sea. We had planned to swim here but the water was
crashing against the cliffs.
Next we made our way towards Vaikona chasm, walking through the forest of
trees and the enormous coral cliffs/ limestone, lava flows. So beautiful. It
was like being at the bottom of the sea but without the water.
Onwards to Matapa chasm where we snorkeled and admired the fish through the
incredibly clear water, staying clear of the poisonous sea snakes. Finally
to Palaha to view just one of the many, cathedral-like, limestone caves,
adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.
Back on board, the crew had returned from a morning tour of caves and during
the next couple of days, Oisin, Moe and Bev explored the island and went on
a dive, even seeing a turtle. Dick and I also went diving, taking the rib to
a mooring buoy near the "chimney" where we tied up and then explored the
depths. The water was so incredibly clear we could see for ever. There were
so many different fish of all sizes from quite tiny to around 5Kg. A car,
still with tyres on the wheels, was a heap of rust, lying on the seabed,
leaning against the coral. This was the deepest dive we have done hitherto,
at 31 metres.
A few of the boats set off for Tonga on Wednesday, another on Thursday but
most were planning to leave Friday. The forecast was no wind so if we keep
the revs down and do 5knots, we should arrive on Monday, taking around 50
hours. We lose a day on this passage and by Job's law this would be at the
weekend, not that it makes any difference to us of course, living aboard the
boat for the foreseeable.
We liked Niue very much, it was so peaceful and relaxing. The local people
were very friendly and helpful although checking in and checking out, as
well as getting money from the bank, took hours. No ATM machine.
The population of 1200 consists of three groups, children, people of working
age and retired folk. 450 work for the government of Niue.
We did manage to buy some potatoes, onions, garlic, oranges and grapes but
everything is from the cooler and therefore has a short shelf life.
Fortunately, with a passage of only 2 days, we can manage on what is already
on board. We can resort to tinned fruit and vegetables if necessary.
Despite all the exploring and partying, we still found time for maintenance.
The crew washed the boat and Dick went to the top of the mast to remove the
broken bracket which holds the block for the cruising shute and parasailors.
We need this available when we reach Tonga.
The last night we were in Niue our boat was visited by a plague of big
flying ants. Sadly I had to use an aerosol spray on them but hadn't managed
to get them all as quite a few were still running around next morning as I
cleared up the carnage. I know that several other boats were also afflicted
but not all.

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