Society Islands to Cook Islands
We started our 535 mile trip to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, by motoring straight into the sunset and a light breeze, enjoying the view of Bora Bora, our last stop in French Polynesia, recede as the sun set.
By 3am the next morning the wind had come around enough for a few sails close hauled, but we still needed engine help to make good progress until the evening when with all sails up, the engine went off and we managed to make a respectable 5-6 knots on course.
As usual, the window for perfect sailing is small, and by 3am Rob was running around the deck in his boxer shorts easing sheets as we were hit by a few stronger spells of wind taking us up to 8 knots. By lunchtime the next day the wind was consistently force 5, and we took down the jib and reefed the mainsail, and by the evening we were zooming along under force 6 winds, with just storm jib and double reefed main. Polly was not seen for a considerable amount of time, having taken refuge from the sight of the big waves down below!
Video clip - charging along at 7-8 knots in a big sea
We made very good progress over the five days of good wind, and had gone so well that we were going to arrive at night, so we were forced to slow down for the last part of the journey, just running along under the staysail and rolling around uncomfortably at low speed in the big swell. After several rain showers in the early morning, we arrived at Rarotonga and entered the harbour at about 10am, and moored stern-to along the dock. The harbour was packed full of boats, and so we ended up next to a cargo ship that was noisily loading up, which was due to go fairly soon, and had hit a yacht whilst manouvering on the way in!
Luckilly the cargo boat was delayed, and the next morning most of the boats left to carry on their journey, leaving plenty of room for the few boats remaining to moor well out of the way.
Ian, Polly and Matt wanted a quick look at the island before flying out that evening, so they rented a car and everyone except Rob (who stayed to look after the boat) went on a tour around Rarotonga, stopping at a waterfall on the way.
We took the opportunity of just the three of us on board to have a day cleaning the entire boat out, and Jay doing huge amounts of laundry. After working the whole day, we decided a drink was in order, so we invited some friends from neighbouring boats over for a drink or two.
We spent a few more days relaxing, and a couple of nights socialising on other boats, including a rugby night, where we all went to a local bar and watched New Zealand play Australia. Sunday came and everything was closed, so we decided a long walk was required, and we headed off on the cross-island walk with Jack and Anna from a boat next to us.
The 'walk' as usual consisted of scrambling up mountainsides clinging onto roots and trees …
… but luckily we managed to acquire a friendly dog who seemed to know the way, and who was grateful for some of our food when we arrived at the waterfall on the other side of the island.
We had been on the look-out for extra crew since Bora Bora, as we knew we would be down to 3 at Rarotonga; as luck would have it Jack, from the boat Dolittle next to us, needed to change boats since visitors were arriving, so he joined us just before we left Rarotonga.
It was then the usual rush to buy enough food for the next trip and fill up with water and fuel, before we left on the morning of the 6th September, headed for Niue, then the Vavau group, Tonga.
Back to previous section - Tuamotu to Society Islands
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