Thurs, Aug 26th Niue
Niue is a lovely, small, island nation between Cook Islands and Tonga. We had pleasant passage here from Suwarrow. It was a downwind run with very moderate seas, much easier than the 24 hour a day roller coaster of the last few passages.
We arrived in Niue Tuesday morning. Completing the formalities here is easy and the Immigration Officer, Judith, gave us the warmest and most gracious welcome. What a nice way to start our visit.
Niue has the same relationship with New Zealand as does Cook Islands, so everybody speaks English. People are very friendly and helpful. The island is neat and tidy, with no starving, mangy, pathetic dogs that we have seen previously (Thank God). There is a strong environmental ethic here, and they are attempting to become the first completely organic, pesticide free country.
Niue Yacht Club provides stout moorings in deep water near the town wharf. It's the clearest water we have seen in some time. There is no lagoon enclosed by a reef, like in the Society Islands, so the mooring field is in a shallow bight on the west side of the island. The water is also a cool but refreshing, as we are very near the very deep water of the Tonga trench, which wells up under us.
There many caves around the shore. The wind comes from off the shore, perpendicular to the swells. Although the swells are very small here, the boat still rocks. Bill rigged a flopper-stopper: a big bucket with the dinghy anchor for weight hanging from the end of the boom as far out as possible over the side of the boat and several feet down in the water. It doesn't completely stop the boat from rocking, but it sure helps. If the weather gets rough, we'll have to leave, though, because there is no protection from swells. We're really mooring right in the ocean.
The tiny yacht club has a hospitable clubhouse and garden with ICE CREAM, ESPRESSO AND NEW ZEALAND BEER! All these make us very happy. The yacht club members provide all kinds of information and assistance and make us feel very welcome. A number of people we've met before are also moored here, so we have lots of company. There are several modest, but good local restaurants, which gives a welcome break from the ship's mess.
Getting ashore is interesting as conditions are similar to the Marquesas, ie, ocean swells at the dinghy landing. Here, however, there is a landing with good footing (not slippery) and a ladder for getting ourselves up on the pier. There is a hoist to lift the tender up onto the dock and a dolly to move it to a parking place.
Niue is known for its visiting whales. We haven't seen them yet, but we can hear them both when swimming, and - get this - in the boat! Last night, after the wind died, the only other sound was the gentle swish of the waves on the coral shelf that serves as a beach. We could clearly hear the whales! It was just magic.
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