August 16, 2011

Suwarrow Atoll, One of the Cook Islands

Suwarrow (Suvorov) has a reputation of being a very friendly island and our stay was amazing. The island was discovered by a Russian explorer Lazarev in 1814 aboard the  Suvorov for which the island is named. The islands fame originated from a man named Tom Neale who lived on the island as a hermit from 1952 until his death in 1978. He wrote a book about his life here “An Island To Oneself” an appropriate name since the island is 500 miles from the closest land.

The fishing was good on the trip over and we landed 2-tunas and a wahoo, our first this season! 1- barracuda and 2-mahi-mahi!
It took us 4½ days to make the crossing and we cleared the passage and anchored next to “Anchorage Island”. 
Things are so simple here, names you can read and people speak English… 
We found our selves anchoring with 12 or so other boats, many of which we had seen previously in Polynesia.

The caretakers of the Nature Reserve, John and James we so welcoming and made the stay enjoyable for all.  James has had this post for the past 18 years, staying for 6 months though the cruising season greeting an average of 130 boats a year.  This was Johns first season and he fit right in.  John would organize the diving and snorkeling trips while James showed all his cooking skills.  Cruisers are allowed to stay two weeks and enjoy this tropical paradise but  some get lost in the beauty of it all and extend their stay a few weeks.
The first day we were there John took a group out to Perfect Reef which was located 4 miles away on the far side of the lagoon.  The simple name said it all it was “Perfect”  The reef was teaming with life and was enjoyed by everyone.

A few times John came diving with Andy from Savanna and myself and we saw some of the best reef life I have ever experienced.  There are lots of big groupers and sharks swimming around on the reefs, a bit scary swimming with sharks especially grey sharks!! They are a more than just a little territorial!! Spear fishing is allowed in moderation but it is a challenge to get the fish you speared to the boat before a shark steals your catch.  Several were snuck past them and we ate some really tasty grouper on a few of the nights! James put on a “Cooking with Coconuts” class and there were many tasty dishes with coconut creams and sauces.
Three other nights we had a $10 Texas hold em tournament twice on Downtime with 30 ppl aboard and the other game we played a the ranger outpost. Daria placed third the first time she ever played! I won the first night, Andy the next and Larry on Magenta took home all the cash on the last night. Daria cooked up some amazing fish dishes and other cruisers brought a lot of goodies to snack on.

This was the best anchorage we have been in so far in the South Pacific, everyone was so friendly and we were able to make some life long friends.  There was even another boat with kite surfers aboard and one day we broke out the kites with Gavin and his crew on Squanderer, a boat bound for Australia.

Andy from Savanna and I did several dives together and he being a retired navy dive photographer took some amazing underwater pictures.  Daria was finally ably to get it all together and enjoy a dive here also, but she was squeezing my hand a little too tight when a sharks swam by.  We had several black tip, white tip and grey sharks circling curiously around us while we dove.  Andy took some great pictures of a moray eel that was hiding in the rocks and of a giant manta ray cruised by over head.

120ft under water!

The time flew by and soon we needed to be on our way again….We said or farewells and set sail the following day.  We were under way by seven  in the morning and I had 4 poles trolling off the back as we cleared the pass and within minutes all 4 poles were bent over with a fish tearing line off the reels!!!  It was crazy aboard for a while!! I was somehow able to get 3 of the fish aboard and then I called Andy on the radio to come take some fish back to the other cruisers,  We no sooner had the boat turned  around with re-set poles and hooked two more on our way back to port, but only managed to land one of them. Andy met us just as I was gaffing the last fish. we off loaded  three of the 30 pound of yellow fins in his dingy.   Amazingly thirty minutes later we had another, much bigger fish on the line!! The last tuna was the biggest I have landed so far on Downtime 50 plus pounds.  By now I was wore out and we put the poles away with the freezer again full of fish.

Asian style! Yummmm

Thanks for an amazing stay James and John!!!

In the next adventure we set sail for American Samoa.

Until then,

Peace  Captain Pedro and Daria