Bora-Bora - Rarotonga (Cook Islands)

Barry Heath and Marie-Jeanne (Danielle) Peters
Mon 21 Sep 2009 16:57


Bora-Bora – Rarotonga (Cook Island)

Before we leave for Rarotonga LAIKA comes over to wish us a farewell. They are not yet ready to leave and still not sure where to head first.

At 10 am we lift the anchor and hoist the sails in the bay. We start with strong local winds which are battering down the valleys. We have a new smaller head sail which we put on for the New Zealand trip where we are expecting at some point very strong winds. Due to less sail surface we are little bit slower as usual. The sea should be still bumpy with all these strong winds in the last days and weeks. It is!!! PIKORUA is rocking from one side to the other but we are lucky to have enough wind to bring us through this mess. We have chocolate bars for lunch as I`ve to get used to the movements of the boat. It normally takes a few hours before you are in the rhythm again. We will live, sleep, eat and drink in the cockpit the next days. No one of us wants to sleep down stairs. It is sticky and no fresh air and to far away in the case an extra hand is needed on deck. We have a little bit more comfort as Barry is pumping up inflatable air mattresses. The first day we are very lucky with the weather and we have a lot of sunshine. Bora-Bora`s silhouette is disappearing on the horizon and we discover the one of the little neighbour Maupiti. Beside the sloppy sea it is a beautiful sailing day. Diner is prepared before the sun goes down. In the last days I have cleaned cut and frozen all the vegetables in handy little portions. The same has been done with the meat. This makes life much easier on sea. In a way you only have to heat the food. The portions fit into dog bowls which it makes easier to eat.

We admire a beautiful sunset. The sunsets on sea are always amazing and you never get tired watching them. Every day they are different.

The question is now who will sleep first. The day first day is always difficult; we are either tired or not tired but unfortunately both on the same time. I get ready for the night which means warm clothes, sailing trousers to keep the humidity away, fleece jacket and the life jacket. In all this I lie down in the cockpit and try to find some sleep. After a few hours dozing it is Barry’s turn. We change watch every 3-4 hours. It is very cold and wet and I hide under the sleeping back. The sky is full of stars the moon only appears for a very short time. We are alone no ship nothing only us the boat, the stars, the wind, the waves. Beautiful we are happy.

The night passes very well. In the morning the wind becomes a little bit weaker and we are hesitating to hoist the gennaker. We still have a reasonable speed and our ETA should be Monday during the day. We decide to continue like this because we don’t want to arrive too early and especially not during the night. We are in the rhythm and the day goes by with sleeping, eating, chatting and reading. We love the sea the blue water and are both very happy.

The second night is very peaceful with a lot of shooting stars. We manage to sleep and the night passes very quickly.

Sunday morning the wind still gets weaker. We get a new GRIB file with the weather forecast. The weak wind will stay with us for the whole day and then they become stronger again . This time we decide to go for the gennaker. Immediately we get a few knots more and are back to the speed we are normally used to.

Big clouds are around us releasing rain showers here and there. We are lucky and keep dry. We fly the gennaker all day and decide to take it down before it is getting dark. It is a wise decision. The wind is back and we are making very good progress. The plan to stay north for most of the trip was the right one. After passing the islands of Mitiaro and Atiu we change course and head down to Rarotonga. PIKORUA is at its best. With 15 knots on the beam we manage to get around 9 knots of speed touching even 10.6 knots by surfing the waves. It is great. We are enjoying an absolute fabulous sailing day with very good progress. The problem is we will just not manage before dark. Barry gets into contact with the harbourmaster in Rarotonga and gets information about the berthing. We should go the first night on the international quay right on the harbour wall. Around 7 pm we arrive close to Rarotonga. We get the sails down in a sloppy sea and try to find our way into the harbour. There are leading lights on shore which make it a little bit easier. Rarotonga doesn’t have a lagoon. It is surrounded by reef. The entrance into the harbour is tricky and very small. There are almost no lights and unfortunately we have 20 knots of wind. The break water has no light so we strictly follow the leading light. The harbour itself is very small. There is not much room for manoeuvres. In the back 4 yachts are moored up stern to. They are rocking in the swell which is pushing through the narrow entrance. This will be fun. The harbour wall is high and not straight and almost not lightened. Big truck tyres are fixed on the outer boarder and every 10 meters is a massive bollard. Barry prepares the lines and the fenders and I keep the boat moving in a circle in almost total darkness. This landing will need all our concentration. Barry takes over the wheel and I get ready to jump over and fix the lines. Due to the poor visibility and the very strong wind which is blowing us off the quay we need three attempts before I manage to get ashore and fix my lines wherever I can. A security guard appears and the lights of his scooter help to see a little bit. The swell and surge is enormous the wall rough and high and PIKORUA rocks up and down. It takes us 1,5 hours to get the boat fixed in the right way. Barry’s dry cloths under his wet gear are now soaked in sweat!  We need all our fenders the fender board and lots of lines. The pressure on the back cleat is so high it is almost ripped of the boat. Eventually we are “settled”. We are both knackered. It is cold and it starts raining. What a nightmare. This was the worst place for ages. We manage to cook and to relax a little bit after all this stress. The night is very bad. The rocking of the boat almost unbearable and the noises of PIKORUA smashing against the wall is making sleep almost impossible. Barry is up every hour to control the lines and fenders as we also have some tide here to add to our problems. Puuh luckily tomorrow we can move.

Avatiu Cook Islands