Date: Friday, October 25th 2018 Time: 21:34 UTC Location 19° 49.27 S 171° 29.33 W COG: 262° SOG: 5.2 knots
I had also never heard of Niue until our minds and plans started heading west from French Polynesia. People were asking “Are you stopping at Niue? Palmerston? Suwarrow?” common stops on the way west. Niue is a raised coral atoll, completely different from anything else we have seen so far. This limestone rock (old and new coral) rises steeply from the ocean between the Cook Island group and the Tongan Island group. It isn’t for nothing that they call it the “Rock of Polynesia”. As you approach, it has steep 60 meter cliffs rising up on all sides. Caves dot the cliffs which have been undercut by the ocean waves. There is only a small shelf of coral which protects the island from direct wave action, no reef ringing the island to protect it from ocean swell. The tops of the cliffs are heavily laden with green vines and bushes and trees of all sorts.
On the west side, away from prevailing winds is a wide and deep bay, exposed only to Westerliers. The main town of Alofi is situated just on shore. Because the island is so steep and exposed, there is no dinghy dock or marina of any kind, just 17 well cared for moorings. If tenable, you dinghy from your mooring to the large cement wharf, connect your dinghy to the crane and lift it out of the water, onto a trolley specially made for yacht dinghies and leave it in one of the dinghy parking places. It was pretty fun having the girls run this huge crane.
Niue has tons going for it. It has one of the highest underwater visibilities in the world. The clarity of the water was stunning. We were moored in 120 feet of water and if the wind wasn’t blowing, you could see the bottom. We have never encountered such friendly people. It was all around noted that everyone was excessively welcoming. When hitch hiking, we never had more than 2 cars pass. We were even picked up when we were not holding our thumb out. The island is dotted with interesting sea caves which you can hike to, explore and snorkel in. There were tons of great little places to eat in Niue. We don’t typically go out to eat often, but we broke that rule almost every day in Niue. There was always somewhere new we wanted to try. The food was delicious everywhere we ate. Hio café, Washaway Café and the Uga Café were all delightful.
First priority when we got to Niue was to recover from the passage and to get our genoa fixed. We tore it in a few places again on our trip to Suwarrow. The first cruisers we met off of a catamaran called Uno Mas had a Sailrite sewing machine aboard and we quickly made plans to get together and stitch up the sail. It was quickly done and we all shared a lovely evening on board.
A kid boat pulled in a few days after we arrived. They were a couple from Italy with two small boys, who had spent the last seven years in French Polynesia. Being that we both had kids, we immediately gravitated toward each other and soon found ourselves renting a car together to explore the island, heading down “sea tracks” where you can explore the tide pools, swim in caves and most importantly, do a culinary tour of gastronomic Niue (easily done with Italians). The kids made it work even though their older boy (6) only spoke French and Italian. It didn’t seem to get in their way much at all and soon he was saying “Thank you very much,” “Hey look!” and “cool,” all with an American accent.
We arrived just in time for Niue’s annual Constitution Day Celebration. We participated in all the events, a Flag Raising Ceremony and feast for a newly opened museum, their Celebration Day, where lots of local games were played, dances performed and fruit and veg shown off. Adelaide and Isa even competed in the reef fishing competition where Adelaide landed an Island Goatfish! The weather was a bit funny for us with a fair amount of drizzle and overcast skies while we were there, but we made the best of it and didn’t let it stop us too much, although there was less snorkeling than we probably would have done if the sun had been out.
But, New Zealand is calling, and with our genoa fixed we have been constantly watching the weather and waiting for a window to head south and west. The weather is not being overly cooperative so, with a two to three day weather window we have departed for either southern Tonga or Minerva reef where we will sit and wait again for some good winds to blow us to New Zealand.
A few more shots: