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Rarotonga – Part 4

By Chelsea McBroom

April 11th, 2014

A family in town that ran a bike rental shop were given a tour of the ship and were so pleased with how excited the kids were, they offered to repair our Picton Castle bicycles.

Somehow I always end up riding the bright pink cruiser bike with the back pedal brakes. Very professional. I rode it whenever Lily and I went to provision, or when we biked past the airport to get to a beach, or the one time Pania, Nolan and I tried biking to the other side of the island (turns out it’s at least an hour and a half long ride) but only got as far as that beach.

Instead to get to the other side of the island I took the bus, which I recommend to anyone who goes to Rarotonga. The bus driver was wonderful: he had a microphone headset on and made jokes the entire way; he sang; he said the police were looking for him and every time a police car drove by he turned his head so they wouldn’t see him; when he stopped the bus to use a public washroom on the beach, he said he had to go check his email, then said the wifi wasn’t working when he returned; he asked everyone who got on where they were from and in doing so made conversation between passengers; he also pointed out some great areas to explore and told local stories. But if you’re not travelling very far, biking is the way to go.

The majority of crew on the off watch spent their second to last day in port biking around and enjoying the island instead of getting their personal tasks done, not knowing it was their second to last day. It was the first time I had seen all the bikes being used.

I stayed on board working with port watch that spent the day, even through dinner, changing chafe gear on all the ship’s docking lines. I hadn’t realized the full severity of the situation until that night on watch. The swell was coming into the harbour at Avatiu and causing the ship to move around quite a bit while tied up against the big cement wharf. I could feel the change in movement of the ship as it lurched forward and back. It was situated on the wharf to be parallel with the waves coming in, so if the swell increased we were moved forward and aft, as opposed to docking adjacent to it which would cause the side of the ship to go up against the dock. This put much weight on our lines and as the ship moved, the lines tightened and loosed, often causing the chafe gear on the lines, which would normally be protective, to entirely miss the spots it was meant to cover as the lines moved against the ship.

When I woke Erin at 0050 to take over and did my ship check, I noticed our stern line chafe gear being pushed off with the movement, causing the line to be rubbed directly. Erin woke the next on watch, Gabe, and the three of us took the hour with leather pieces and a crow bar to repair it safely. I thought we’d saved the day but by the next morning we had chafed through two lines and it hit us that staying any longer would be a nightmare in such a state. It was all hands for the day to manage the line chaos until we could leave. All the bikes, except for two, were put back. Lily and I raced to the stores we had ordered provisions from to check invoices and pay so they could be shipped as soon as possible. Once that was done, John, my new purser assistant, and I made trips to the Port Office, to Customs, and to Immigration so that we could leave Rarotonga as soon as possible.

It took us 4 hours before we were cleared out and were able to start sailing to Palmerston. It’s always hard leaving a place when you aren’t ready or don’t expect it – especially when our personal tasks go unfinished (such as reaching out to friends and family as planned!). But it was a relief to move on.

Vai and Maria in the batcave

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