First leg and Rarotonga

Donald Begg
Sat 22 Oct 2016 01:29
It was a slowish passage overall, light winds to begin with and for'd of the beam, some motor-sailing, and then the wind backing and strengthening as the South East Trade Winds re-established themselves. The third night out was uncomfortable with 25 kts of wind from the S and a confused sea, but with morning the wind backed and moderated, and by the fourth night we were romping in the right direction at 7+ knots with the wind just abaft the beam. Daily mileages 117, 112,128, and 151. The sky was blue. No other ships seen in this very remote part of the Pacific. Being recently out of a French supermarket it was sausage, pate and cold beer as a run-up to meals, doesn't matter too much about the garlic with no other human being within a hundred miles. Rarotonga was visible at 32 miles.
Avatiu is a small but quite busy harbour. Must get clearance from port control before entering, says the pilot. So I called them on Ch16, once, twice, third time and lucky. They said that a fishing boat was leaving later in the afternoon, so could I please anchor temporarily in a corner of the harbour. This I did, and it looked comfortable, so I'll be happy if I can stay here quietly rather than doing a Med-moor on a busy and bumpy quay in this small harbour. But there's a snag (possibly literally, I hope that my anchor hasn't picked up a witches' knitting of old mooring ropes). Three separate immigration/customs/bio-diversity control officials would like to pay me a visit, says port control, can I please come in and fetch them with my dinghy? Sure, but it's just me on board, I have to inflate the thing, launch it, get the outboard on it, and it will take me a good half hour. No problem, says port control. Well, it took half an hour, by which time immigration and customs had knocked off for the day, so the Q flag remained at the yardarm, no run ashore and nice restaurant for me that evening. The bio-diversity controller did come aboard, we had a pleasant chat about life in the remote Pacific, and he confiscated all my fruit, leaving just one apple for after supper. He even asked me to supply him with a bin-liner to take my fruit away in. A bit like being asked to provide a basket for your own head to roll in before the guillotine. Well, all's not lost, there's supposed to be a good fruit market here.
Thursday morning, and the officials are on the quay at 08.00, including one lady who doesn't like water and small boats, but puts a brave face on it in the line of duty. All done within half an hour, my old French Polynesia clearance paper from Papeete in April perfectly acceptable,100 NZD or so to pay to the State of Rarotonga, down comes flag Q, and the lady gives me a lift in her van to the laundry with my dirty-clothes bag almost running along behind.
Let's have a look at Rarotonga.
Best wishes to all, Donald.