Above: Maunie rocks in the washing machine and the specialist baker's stall at the market
Yesterday (the 30th) was the first anniversary of our leaving England at the start of this little adventure. It was also 12 months to the day that the Biscay Alliance with Stormvogel began, so it was fitting to go to a really lovely restaurant (run by an English couple who previously had a restaurant on the Isle of Arran in Scotland) with Peter and Heidi to celebrate. We'd hired very good 125cc scooters (only £12 per day) so had been exploring the island and had been recommended to go to the Vaima restaurant; the 20 minute ride to the south of the island was well worth it as the meal was delicious.
We've really enjoyed Rarotonga so far. The locals are lovely and the Kiwi influence means that there are some great places to eat – even lunchtime cafes have delighted us with fresh salads and puddings to die for. We've even been to the cinema! 'White House Down' was from German director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow so the all-action, God-Bless-America plot was pretty much what you'd expect but we enjoyed the novelty of a proper 150-seat cinema, with about 12 other people.
Today, unfortunately hasn't been such a good day, though it started well enough with a walk through the excellent Saturday market and we stocked up on fresh veg and salads plus some very tasty bread, quiche and cakes. The problem has been that the harbour is, as we knew from the pilot guides, absolutely useless if the wind comes from the north and today that's where its blowing from. The excellent harbourmaster, Mr Rasmussen (known to all as Ras, he looks like an ex-rugby player and previously skippered the government fisheries patrol boat) reassured us that the wind would veer from NE to NW through the day but wouldn't exceed 20 knots, so it'd be a bit bumpy but ok. We should explain that yachts moor stern-to at the concrete quay so we drop the anchor in the middle of the harbour and reverse, throwing stern lines ashore and leaving the boats about 3m from the wall, using our dinghies to get ashore. Well, so far the wind has got as far as due north so is blowing straight into the harbour and the wind-driven swell is making life very uncomfortable aboard and downright dangerous to climb the ladders onto the quay from a surging dinghy. The problem is exacerbated by the waves reflecting back from the quay wall so we have a horrible double swell making the boats corkscrew around, with big thumps on the transom as the waves cannon back on to us.
Knowing this was coming, we took the precaution of laying a second anchor out yesterday afternoon so are safe enough but others haven't been so lucky. Stormvogel's anchor dragged and she thumped the concrete wall with her stern rail a couple of times (luckily with only minor damage we think) before they could get the engine going to clear out and re-anchor. A ever the other crews were all ready to help, taking shore lines and giving encouragement We daren't leave the boat in case we, or the neighbouring yachts, have problems so we're stuck in what we are now calling the washing machine. As we write, the frontal trough has arrived and its now raining hard (so this must be the rinse cycle!); we're praying that the wind will swing around as quickly as it did the other evening when we were at sea and that we'll have a quieter sea and a night that allows us to get some sleep!!
Graham's shot some video of the bouncing boats which we'll upload when we can but in the meantime the photos above give you an idea of the harbour.