Shark Chumming

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

CBParker_D3_20090511_2009-05-11SharkFeed2-061-Edit.jpgWe changed our plans a bit – bad weather was forecast for around Niue that we wanted to avoid, also due to hit Tonga in about six or seven days, so we decided to leave Suwarrow and head straight for Tonga to be sure we were settled in to the very nice safe harbor in Vava’u before the weather hit. We departed Suwarrow Monday afternoon, expecting to arrive in Tonga during the wee hours of Friday morning, except in Tonga it is really Saturday instead of Friday. Gets confusing sometimes – just hope we don’t get mixed up and miss our flight home! We leave on the 26th from Tonga, connect in Samoa the 25th (day before!), then arrive in LA on the 26th, same day we left only earlier!
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Suwarrow Atoll

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

CBParker_D3_20090508_SuwarrowUW-117.jpgWe arrived at Suwarrow atoll Thursday morning at the end of the 200 mile passage from Penrhyn – uneventful sailing, light winds, a very comfortable ride. At night the radar screen was so empty it appeared to be broken – not a squall in sight. We did cross paths with the supply ship out of Rarotonga making its rounds of the islands, also passed a large buoy floating free – but nothing else. Nearly a full moon so lots of light on the water all night long.
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Disneyland Underwater

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d3_20090429_penrhynuw-247For us Penrhyn’s biggest attraction is underwater. We’ve been in the water constantly on this trip, snorkeling and swimming several times a day and scouting out the site of our next scuba dive. We had already snorkeled through Takuua Passage near our anchorage and wanted to return and dive the pass near high tide when the incoming ocean water turns the lagoon water crystal clear as an aquarium.
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Penrhyn Yacht Record Book

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090502_penrhyn-003Tetautua Village maintains a Yacht Record Book – an oversize hardback book with lined blank pages, covered with canvas and stored in a vinyl water resistant bag. Each visiting yacht over the past many years has filled out a page or two in the record book. It’s a blast to read through the old entries filled with photos, sketches, and journals posted by a wide variety of cruisers. Rod came here in 9 years ago on his own sailboat Uwhilna – we found his page and he bemoaned his lost youth as evidenced in the 8-year old photo (poor Rod is now an ancient old man of 42!).
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A Big Fish Tale with an Unhappy Ending

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d3_20090429_penrhynuwb-074Rod unpacked his speargun and has started shooting our dinner. He’s a really good spearfisherman, free-diving down and
hitting his target almost every time, with an aim good enough to hit even a small fish in the ideal spot just behind the head near the gills. I follow closely towing the dinghy, because when a fish is speared it is paramount to get it up and out of the water as quickly as possible before the sharks arrive. They know the sound of the spear hitting rock and come around quickly to investigate. If they have a chance to grab the fish on the end of the spear and take off with it, most likely the diver will lose his entire speargun as well as his fish.
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Coconut Crab Brunch

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090428_penrhyn-163Our hosts from Tetautua Village have continued to entertain us. This morning we followed our leader OJ by dinghy some four or five miles to the far side of the lagoon, following a curving track to avoid the ever present coral bommies, where the facilities of a bankrupt pearl farm lie abandoned on the western shore. Many of the villagers – men, women and children – had camped out at the pearl farm overnight for a coconut crab hunt, baiting the enormous blue crabs in the night with fresh coconut meat and then snatching them up and tossing them into an empty oil drum. This takes some finesse, as the crabs can easily snap off a finger with their powerful claws.
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Milkfish Picnic

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090425_tetautua-149For Saturday afternoon’s activity, our village patriarch (named OJ) had also invited us to join his family on a milkfish outing which we later realized was an event put on especially for us (and all visiting yachties) to introduce outsiders to the Cook Island way of life. Shedding our church-going clothes and getting back into our familiar swimsuits and shorts we joined together again, this time on the beach, to take part in a big family picnic.
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ANZAC Memorial Day

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090425_tetautua-038It’s Monday morning and Rod and Geraldine have hitched a boat ride across the lagoon to the big city of Omoka (population about 150) for propane and shopping, leaving Mike and I alone on Raven to recuperate from our whirlwind social obligations of the past few days!

First thing Saturday morning we were hailed by returning village fisherman in their boats, coming in with their catch of tuna and offering us a fat yellowfin as a gift. Since we so far have failed to catch one of our own, this was greeted with great enthusiasm by the tuna fans on Raven! The Cook Islanders may not be quite so enthusiastic about tuna as we are as their diet consists almost solely of fish, rice and coconut. With the supply ship only showing up every 6 months or so the only island store sells out of all the imported stuff in just a few days.
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Clearing In to Penrhyn Atoll

PHOTO GALLERIES
2009 South Pacific

cbparker-d700-20090424-penrhyn-058.jpgWhen I talk about our “other life” here’s an example. A recent morning started with Mike in his bathing suit balanced on Raven’s swim step while I gave him a haircut using Rod’s electric clippers. All the while some five or six baby reef sharks meandered lazily near the boat stern a few feet away in water more turquoise than any swimming pool!

We left Bora Bora last Tuesday morning at dawn for our 600 mile passage to Penrhyn Island in the Cook Islands. Allowing 200 nautical miles per day, our goal was to arrive mid morning when the sun was at a good angle to help us navigate through the narrow lagoon entrance and spot the multitude of bommies (coral heads) that make for treacherous navigation in this part of the world.
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