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South Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 – South Pacific Ocean

At 1000 we are at 19-36 South and 161-19 West. Making 7-8 knots under t’gallants in force 6 southeast tradewinds and lumpy ten-foot seas covered with whitecaps. We are about 140 miles from Rarotonga and about halfway to Palmerston Atoll, both in the Cook Islands.

Picton Castle sailed away from Avatiu, Rarotonga yesterday morning just before ten o’clock. Sailed off the dock and out the pass of that small, snug but welcoming harbour and out into a beautiful blue-sky day at sea. Some friends came down to see us off. We had a great stay at Rarotonga for over a week. We had great weather almost the whole time. Many visitors came by. School children from the Avarua School and the Nikao School which now includes the Avatea School came to visit their ship and dance on the hatch too. The Marerro Lions Club donated school supplies while Picton Castle was in New Orleans back in April and they were given to these two schools. We had the kids’ sailing club from over at Muri Lagoon come as well.

What did we all do while at Rarotonga? Well, back at the ship we got all nicely tied up upon arrival, collected mail, painted the topsides, laid out sails on the dock, worked on some deck planks, fiddled and did things in the engine room, took on fuel and water, shopped for food to get us to Fiji, took on cargo for Palmerston, repaired sails, signed off crew whose time was sadly up and signed on new joining crew, and a few returning PC vets in the bunch. Then got going on the multi-day orientation and training with them. This includes a lot of safety stuff, living aboard stuff, how to go aloft securely, initial small boat handling introduction and a few dos and don’ts about life aboard and ashore.

What you really want to know is what the crew did while ashore in Rarotonga, no? I don’t know. Lots to do on Rarotonga. If you like Hawaii, and have thought of maybe going to Tahiti, skip all that and fly straight to Rarotonga. It is the best. I imagine that many of our gang went to Island Night feasts with that fantastic Cook Island dancing. Some rented bikes, scooters or even cars to get around the island. Many went to hear the wonderful singing at church. I am sure many drinking coconuts got consumed – no better drink in the world than a nice fresh green drinking nut. The island is surrounded by lagoon with almost all areas perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Trader Jacks certainly had its fair share of attendance and with such a view, such a sweet beach and such fine sushi and pizza it is no surprise. Vaiana’s down the road right on the beach found our crew’s custom as well. Great food and music there too. Vaiana’s grandfather was from Pitcairn Island and a good friend of mine. Six-year-old Dawson considers it his own beach. And very family friendly indeed. Night markets here and there found our gang taking part. The big Saturday farmers and craft market was a hit. Some folks went on cross island mountain hikes that end at a cool waterfall. I gather that a few went diving off the reefs.

Tammy and I went to see “Mamma Mia 2”, the ABBA- fest movie at the cinema in Avarua. Dawson went swimming every day. What else? Of course, people had to internet and heaps of laundry got done too. A crew member had a tumble ashore and had to get off the ship for a while to mend his ribs but he is on the mend. Could be worse with all these rented motor scooters. Makes me nervous every time when we are ashore.  But I think what people did mostly was settle into that lovely island pace of life one finds in the South Pacific, maybe it’s the accomplishment of doing nothing?

And now we are on a roller coaster ride of a passage deep in this legendary South Pacific sailing towards Palmerston Atoll. Only 50 or so people live there. Almost all descendants of William Marsters and his three wives who settled there in the 1860s. We should heave-to off the pass early tomorrow. Hopefully to get the hook down and run ashore under the palm trees for some more and different island magic.

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