Quest sails west from Polynesia to the Cook Islands.
Last stop in French Polynesia: Mopelia Atoll
After leaving our friends from Del Rey Yacht Club in Raitea, French
Polynesia we traveled west with the intention of heading to New Zealand
to avoid the hurricane season. Before re left French Polynesia for the
last time we visited Mopelia Atoll. This was quite an experience since
the break in the reef was very narrow and we experienced a six knot out
flow and a significant side wind. I was truly terrified. Once we
negotiated the narrow entrance we had to wind around the coral heads
before finding our anchorage at the windward side of the atoll. I don't
think we got any photos of the entrance because we had our mind on other
things. This seems to always be the case when we're in hairy situations.
But, once we got the Quest safely anchored we found ourselves to be in a
fantastic photo op location - beautiful clear aquamarine water and
bright sunshine. You can see how flat the atoll is and how exposed the
area is to storms and high waves and tides. Unfortunately we had lost
the use of two good cameras on this trip and were now reduced to using
throw-away cameras. I've tried to improve the images as best I can! I
think you still get the idea of the limited circumstances found on
then got our dinghy launched and decided to explore the atoll. The
closest thing we saw was a boat hoist (with a boat in the hoist), so it
seemed reasonable to go there!
we met Victor, one of seven residents of the atoll. Since the supply
boat had broken down he did not have the fuel to visit his parents by
boat, so we offered to take him there in our dinghy.
visited many different remote areas we were not surprised at the living
conditions there, but subsistence living is not what most Americans are
used to! (left)
is the kitchen area where Victor's parents live. (right) We brought fresh
vegetables which he put in the oven to keep them from insects and
animals (dogs and chickens). You can see that the table is set inside a
tin can to prevent insects from crawling up on the table.
was kind enough to bring down a few coconuts and offer us a refreshment
of coconut milk. This was an easy task for him, but we knew that we
would have had difficulty.
sleeping quarters (when he's visiting his parents) is an "A" frame
structure. In case of high waves he would not get wet! (right)
went back to Victor's place in the evening and celebrated Scott's 65th
birthday. (left) It was probably one of the most memorable birthdays Scott has
ever experienced. Victor had caught some lobsters out on the reef the
day before and marinated them and put them on the grill.
brought a chocolate cake we had just baked on the Quest and that was a
huge hit!!! (right)
provided the latest music. He had CDs and a boom box that was energized
with a solar charged battery. You can see why we are fascinated with
meeting people who live in out of the way places. All peoples are
intelligent enough to figure out how to survive in their circumstances.
It's always interesting to see what different people do to enhance their
comfort. and how they utilize the world around them to provide food,
clothing and shelter (and some comforts). By the way, we left Victor
with some clothing and canned vegetables and fruits - rice too!
Entering The Cook Islands
photos of Scott hoisting the nation's flag and the quarantined flag are
so meaningful to me. I guess in this case it's the first English
speaking country we've visited for almost a year. So, this flag is
quite significant. Since we hoist the flags as we enter the harbor
of a new country it's a gesture that's loaded with happy anticipation -
as well as some anxiety of entering an unknown anchorage in an unknown
here we are against the sea wall where two days ago large waves were
crashing up over the dock. (left) The power boat behind us is med moored with
it's anchor chain attached to a big cement block in the bottom of the
harbor. We were told that we were to do the same thing the next day when
the power boat left. Marilyn and Tony are pretty happy to have arrived
safely in the Cook Islands. They'll be with us another week touring
tour around Rarotonga included a traditional lunch. On the right our
guide prepares the coals and wilts the greens that will be wrapped
around our food before it's placed in the fire pit.
reason that some islands have a long rich tradition is because there are
resources to support a significant population. Here (left) we've driven
up into the hills and can look down on a farming operation that feeds
the local population as well as provides crops for export.
course, an important resource to all the islands is a reliable water
source. It's pretty obvious by looking at the lush vegetation that
Rarotonga receives consistent year round rainfall.
people of the Cook Islands are known for their woodcarving. This
particular tiki is characteristic of the Cooks (that is, an amply
endowed male figure). These
designs are used in other applications such as fabric design. We were
able to procure a bed cover and a couple of shirts printed with some
very interesting woodcarving patters.
view on the right is a typical view of the mountains and countryside of
guide was pretty skilled at the traditional island living. It was quite
interesting to see how imaginative native peoples are.
large part of the native tradition has to do with navigating between
islands and between island groups without the help of GPS or sextant.
The dug out canoes are still made by the local people. (right) These canoes are
paddled and sailed around and between the islands.
the end of our tour we enjoyed a traditional meal served in the
traditional way - on leaves and in baskets. (left) It was delicious. We had
chicken, pork, goat, shrimp in coconut milk, squash and plantains. All
served with a refreshing mango drink.