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At last, we're living the cruising life. As Conni says we need to change the ratio of passages and hanging out. The crossing from Bora Bora to Rarotonga was relatively uneventful, with only one storm to contend with and few engine issues. Nate took to the watch schedule with ease and talent, making the crossing both uneventful and luxurious. Thank you, Nate!
As both Nate and Conni have said, they could get lost in Rarotonga with ease. It's less a tourist trap than Bora Bora, more relaxed, and just as friendly. And, they speak Kiwi English! Checking in to the country of Cook Islands was easy and fast, much different that in some places that we've visited. We found a market that was held each Saturday, so we arose early enough to attend and spent most of the day there.
Although this is from Bora Bora, it's posted here. The Bora Bora Yacht Club was increasing the number of bungalows for rent and rather than build them on-site, they were built elsewhere, placed on this odd powered barge, and moved to the site. It was later lifted into place and bolted to the dockworks.
In the Rarotonga harbor, shipping is the name of the game for supplying the island. This container ship managed to glide into the harbor, turn around using lines to shore and a bow thruster, and then spend the remaining 24 hours off-loading full containers and loading full ones.
Nate reads in the harbor. Looks relaxed, doesn't he? This is our first "Med mooring" with the stern in and bow out. We dropped the anchor 60-ft out, then backed into the dock and are held in this location by lines to the dock. One of the large bollards to which the lines are tied is at top right in the photo. I can't tell you how nice it is to walk without holding on to something for balance!
Poor Wings looks tiny compared to the huge multihulls beside her. She also looks like a boat of vagrants with all of the stuff on her. The container ship is at upper right. Nate and Conni (by the catamaran) pull themselves to shore from the boat. You can easily see the advantages of Med (short for Mediterranean) mooring since each vessel is responsible for its own way of getting ashore and boats can be stacked without regard to beam.
Our afternoon in Rarotonga was spent learning about the place by a stroll around the area. Tropical island vegetation is nearby everywhere you look. Nate strolls at left.
Empty on Friday afternoon, this is the entrance to the Saturday market.
The Bond, largest liquor store in the only "town" in the Cook Island, Avaroa. Of the 20,000 inhabitants in the Cook Islands, 10,000 live on Rarotonga, and 4,000 of those live in Avaroa, largest town in the islands. Imagine. The Bond has a nice selection of New Zealand wine, as one might expect, and the taxation is not as steep as in French Polynesia. Kiwis like their booze, I think.
A side street near one of the round-the-island bus tour stops (the many people under the roof, center). As we said, you're always near the bush, here.
The Prime Minister's office is small and modest, powered by the solar array that is seen at middle right.
This is a poinsettia TREE! None of us knew that it grew this large! Seems to be blooming, too.
Truth in advertising, I guess. This is a building supply store.
Touring by foot drives a powerful thirst, so we stopped at the High Tides bar for a local beer. Matutu advertises that it has, "no extra crap." Yeah, and it's tasty, too. In front is the oddly shaped local Cook Island currency, useful only in the Cook Islands.
On the grounds of the market is this very Maori-looking carving, with the protruding tongue and mother-of-pearl eyes. We're pretty sure that it's a a male deity.
First night's dinner consisted of superb greasy burgers and fries from this local burgeria. Lovely Conni peruses the menu. She had announced "burger need" for a few days and we were fortunate that this place was praised by the Customs officer and was a few steps from the dock.
Lovely Conni strolls to the dock to take a look at Wings while I sit at the tables at the burger joint. It's a nice view of the tiny harbor that has fewer transient boats that we imagined that it would. The catamaran at left was carrying the 3 couples that were new owners who had bought her in the Caribbean and were taking her back to New Zealand.
Friday evening anywhere in the world finds high school students gathering for an evening's activities. They're very nice kids who can entertain themselves without being destruction deprived. Several had spent a few hours jumping the five-feet from the dock near our boat into the water and having a great time. Born and raised on an island, they're water-loving kids.
Saturday morning and we stroll on the way to the market and pass this colorful tourist shop. While on the main coast road, behind is simply tropical jungle. I love the colors.
Quite a difference from the first photo! Punanga Nui Market is bustling with Kiwi tourists and locals. Crafts, food and entertainment draw everyone.
Lovely Conni peruses a small stall to look at their offerings. Note the locals dressed in costume.
There are several bakeries on the island that produce wonderful breads and pastries. Here, Conni stands in line for some breakfast pain chocolate, a chocolate-filled croissant and one of my favorites.
Yep, locally-made ukuleles. The smaller, 4-string ones were $50, while the larger mango-wood ones with elaborately carved tops and 8-strings were $250.
This lady is weaving coconut fronds into shrimp shapes to be included in leis.
A fortune in flowers at give-away prices await the public's purchase.
The cool High Tide bar where we enjoyed our first Cook Island beer. It faces the ocean. Since we made landfall on my watch, it was my job to motor in circles for two hours awaiting dawn and light for the entry into the harbor. I must have been by this place a dozen times! Note the peaks behind, reminders of the volcanic nature of the islands.
The MC, in the yellow shirt behind, had just introduced two young traditional dancers as they gyrated in front of the percussion band behind.
The Smoothie Man cutting a coconut for our smoothie. Don't miss, brother! We told him that we had sailed to his island and he promised to drop by for a beer. If he shows, I'll not be surprised one bit. Conni said that he was very handsome and his Kiwi accent was great.
Our is on the right: mostly FRESH coconut milk, banana, mango, and "dragon fruit" made a delicious drink. Everything was local, of course.
Car prices are not as high as one might imagine. The Cook Island economy is tied to the New Zealand economy and uses their currency, so the CI dollar is the same as an American dollar.
Outside Trader Jacks we saw the completion of a resort "race" in which visitors paddled various distances. There were classes for singles, doubles and these large multi-paddler canoes. Trader Jacks is a landmark bar that's been in the same location for many years, surviving more than a few typhoons.
Walking back from Trader Jack's bar, Nate and I took the beach trail.
Yep, this is how cruisers unwind. Nate and Tui adorn the bar, while Bill's leg provides a border.
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