All the Pacific islands have been accessible again for departures for three years – or not?
While a new batch of boats from Central America are making their first leap across the Pacific, several fleets from French Polynesia and New Zealand are already in the starting blocks. The 2022-2023 hurricane season is over and this means that the intermediate islands of Cook, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia are once again accessible. Normally, this southern part of the Pacific can be safely visited from May to November.
Since the spring of 2023, online crowds have already started to increase. Through groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, a lot of information was requested and shared about sailing in the Pacific, both in general and on specific islands. While it was already safe to enter the Pacific from Central America in March, cruisers in French Polynesia and New Zealand still had to exercise patience.
Bypass ARC rallies
In addition to collecting weather maps daily, more and more cruise passengers also invariably check the application YB race, in which rallies are followed around the world. Part of the ARC fleet has already left in mid-May for Suwarrow (one of the Cook Islands), while the other twelve are awaiting their turn from Bora Bora. Suwarrow is a small atoll with limited anchorages. When the first fleet is ready to move to the next island of Niue, the other part of the fleet takes the limited anchorages on Suwarrow, then alternates on Niue, and so on. And then there will be two more fleets in June. The ARC is in such a dominant position that the rest of the cruisers have to sail around it.
against the rules
Additionally, the ARC rally seems to have such a schedule of its own that it may conflict with local rules. Suwarrow, an uninhabited Cook Island, which is out of hurricane season two park rangers is a popular stopover among cruisers. It is right on the road and is unique in its nature and history. Until now, the visit was free, except for a small fee. The RCAF’s First Fleet in May was the very first to land this year. However, when the rangers were dropped off by the patrol boat the same week to settle in for the new season, they unexpectedly found a number of uninvited guests there. The fleet had not received formal prior permission and were therefore turned away, Penrhyn Police reported.
Because of all these developments, a change is afoot. Alternate islands that are not exactly on the route are added to the list. Just like Penrhyn, an inhabited atoll in the north of the Cook Islands, with only 200 inhabitants. This atoll is traditionally called Tongareva, which means “far from the south” in Maori. The Canadian boat Afrikii became the first boat in three years to arrive in Penrhyn in May, with prior clearance. Ian says: “The villagers were so excited to finally have returning cruisers that we were spontaneously invited to a Kai Kai to share a traditional feast with us.
Just after anchoring, Ian and Ann saw a plastic barrel floating “almost nonchalantly” with a local boy inside. Both hands were equipped with an oyster shell with which he paddled. “Come here,” Ian encouraged. He immediately threw his embarrassment overboard and quickly paddled back to the boat for a closer look. Later, Ian and Ann invited all the kids on board to show off their houseboat and wakeboard. “It’s the most beautiful day of my life !” one of the children shouted, Ian said with satisfaction.
Last modification: June 2, 2023
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