Thank you all for the comments on our last post. They mean so much to us! We’ve recovered from the experience of getting here, and since arriving in Niue we’ve had good times and more frustrating times….
Our first meal ashore was at Gill’s Indian Restaurant. I cried as I had my first bite of lamb masala – it was that tasty and I was that happy to be on solid ground. The town at Alofi is small but there seems to be everything one needs, except an ATM (the rumour is true!) We were glad to have bought some NZ$ in Bora Bora.
Last week we rented a car with Orkestern and Ninita. The island of Niue is called ‘The Rock’ and it is essentially a giant mound of coral that is protruding out of the sea. Because there is so little soil, none actually, the water clarity is incredible. There is so much to see here! ‘Sea tracks’ are paths down to the water and every one is different. There are amazing snorkelling spots, caves, chasms, and other interesting places to explore. We have many photos, but the connection is too slow to post them.
The only thing they warn about Niue is that you have to leave in a strong westerly. The mooring field is completely exposed to the west so there is zero protection from a west wind and swell. So what have we enjoyed for the past three days now? You guessed it: a strong westerly.
On Sunday night the wind came around and we endured gusts up to 37 knots from the west. Thank goodness the Niue Yacht Club maintains the mooring balls so well. Two boats ended up on the reef last year in similar conditions, but due to their own lines chafing through, no issue with the moorings. With strong winds comes big swell. Even though the wind is now only 15 knots from the west, there are at least 3 meter swells coming directly into the bay…. there’s over 500 nm of fetch! With a reef lee shore 100 feet behind us! It’s been almost unbearable. It would actually be better to be out at sea but we all made the choice to wait it out rather than head upwind to Tonga. We also thought it was only going to last one day.
Yesterday, after two nights of no sleep, the motion on the boat was bad that I couldn’t leave my bunk. Why not go ashore? Aside from being worried about the boat, the swell was so intense that the dinghy wharf was unusable. In normal conditions (wind and swell from the east) the dinghy system is pretty interesting. Every boat has to be hoisted out of the water by a giant crane; it’s too dangerous to leave the boats in the water. With west swell the waves pummel past the landing spot and make it very unsafe to be anywhere nearby. So – we were stuck on rock ‘n roll Hydroquest all day. Very frustrating and extremely uncomfortable.
Much to our relief, SV Sophie invited everyone in the anchorage over for a party last night. Sophie is a Lagoon 500 so is nice and stable compared to the rest of us. It felt amazing to stand up and be a human again. I think now I would seriously consider a catamaran as our next boat. The party was great – 8 Swedish Vikings (there are 4 young Swedish boats here now), 3 Canadians, and the Sophie family (Jamie, Jenna and kids Leo & Hazel) from Seattle. Caroline and Nina even ended up sleeping onboard Sophie rather than returning to their own rocking boats.
Today the swell has decreased a bit, so we made it to shore – barely. Will rowed in and we tried to time the waves for me to jump onto the stairs. I mistimed it, or my muscles weren’t working properly, because I ended up dangling on the ladder as a huge wave rolled by. I ended up in the water, under the dinghy, with my legs getting cut up on the concrete wharf. Luckily Ola was there to help me out – and he saved my sunglasses too!
Oh well, we’re hanging in here. Still loving life, but keeping our fingers crossed that conditions will go back to normal ASAP. Niue is very cool, but Tonga’s protected anchorages are calling our name…