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Friday, August 22, 2008

August 21, 2008 - Rarotonga, Cook Islands

We have arrived and are thrilled to be here in Rarotonga. This is by far the most unique and challenging anchorage job we have accomplished to date. Difficult to articulate but I will try to paint a word picture. The dock is a high concrete wharf and has only enough room for about 14-17 boats, moored stern-to (backed in toward the wharf), depending on the beam (width of your yacht). There are two catamarans here (Cop Out and O'Vive!), which are about as wide as two monohulls (a "regular" sailboat).
Among the monohulls, some have as much as a 15 ft. beam (such as ours) or as little as an 8 ft. beam, hence the room for boats depends upon the size of the ones already here. To get in, one must drop anchor near the middle f the bay, hoping not to cross anchor lines with another yacht, while a fellow yachtie comes out in a dinghy, grabs one of your stern lines and guides you whilst you back in to your slot. We are snug in here, so folks on the boats either side of your spot will grab lines and
walk you in and then pitch the lines to someone on shore who will then tie your stern to the bollards on the wharf. It is really very exciting, especially to watch all of the activity as cruisers buzz around very efficiently getting you into place. They all seem to know what they are doing, thus it feels as though you are being taken care of by the experts. After all, each of them has already done this at least once. We are so tightly set in here that we can walk from boat to boat - just as our
pictures from the marina Taina in Tahiti depict. The difference here is that we are 20-30 feet away from the concrete wharf because of the swell and the surge in the bay. Hence you put your dinghy in to the water and pull yourself back and forth to the ladder at the wharf when you want to come and go. Some yachts have rigged pulley systems to their dinghies. It is all very fascinating! I have taken some photos which will be posted soon. This is like a community we have seen in the movies where
you can see and hear everything your neighbor is doing. We love it! We are sandwiched in-between Malachi and Tuppenny. Tuppenny is new to us, and is a British yacht with Gillie and Ruth aboard. The boats here whom we know already are Orca III, O'Vive!, Malachi, Cop Out, Candene, and Yamana who are just leaving. Still to arrive are Mr. John, Rarangi and Nomad. We looked around and saw only room for 2 boats yet Ken on Cop Out said, "Oh we'll make room, move some boats over and squeeze them in."
We believe him.

So, we got all settled in to our new berth for the next several days, visited with our neighbors, got caught up on who, what, when and where, and then went ashore to check in with the harbor master, buy a prepaid internet card and to get the feel of the land. The harbormaster's office was a remarkably pleasant visit because they all speak the most lilting NZ English and are very, very accommodating. We have not been in an English speaking country since February and this is music to our ears! The
internet is not by the minute so for that we are very grateful. We purchased a $50 (NZ dollar) card which gives us 250 MG of internet usage, unlimited time online. We don't understand what that means but think it means that we are good to go! We have discovered several excellent restaurants in the area and were dead set on pizza for dinner, hearing that there is a wood fired, cracker-thin crust pizza joint nearby. Dinner turned out to be all that we had hoped for although not quite as inexpensive
as we'd anticipated. We keep forgetting that we are in the islands where most products are not locally obtained. No matter how you slice it though it still beats the heck out of French Polynesia's rates. What really just kills us is the weak value of the USD right now. We've run into Europeans who tell us that they LOVED visiting America because their money went so very far there. Not so long ago other countries loved to be paid in US currency over local, but now they scoff at us when we suggest
such a thing. Nope - they want either local or Euros if payment is offered in cash. American Express is laughable out here as well - better bring your VISA card if you want to charge anything.

We rented a scooter, for which at least one of us had to obtain a motorcycle driver's license. We could both get one but I let Frank do this because I do not relish driving on the opposite side of the road - I have a hard enough time driving without thinking about doing everything backwards! Scooter, $85/wk, Cook Islands DL, $25 (for one year), not having to drive in Rarotonga - priceless!

Frank with the help of Steve form Orca III got the generator fixed. It is too mechanical for me to explain, but I am told that the impeller for the sea water cooling pump shredded from vibration. They got all of the shredded pieces cleaned out and the new piece put in and we are once again generating power! Good thing because we were needing to run the engine for a few hours each day and night to charge the batteries which can sometimes be irritating to your neighbors who may be sleeping or just
enjoying some quiet time. Not to mention the fuel usage of running the engine at $7/gallon. This was also thrilling because now we have enough power to operate the TV and DVD player which is critical to watching Alias!

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