Arctic Loon’s Brief Stopover in the Cook Islands

Our only stop in the Cook Islands at Palmarston Atoll (Google the history of this Utopia) was an extra special highlight. We arrived at the tiny mooring field created for the cruising sailboats, and were greeted by David, son of our host family. He showed us to our mooring ball and watched Anne and Heather catch and secure Arctic Loon in a torrential squall which ended the minute they had finished. Heather was hanging on to the jib furler for her life as her dress was flying up in the wind, and Anne's tank top was dripping wet and almost falling off… what the heck, gave David something to talk about. Having arrived late in the day we settled in for our first full night sleep in 4 days, especially after Emir on Hugo came over to free dive and place our own anchor as a backup to the questionable mooring we were tied to. We did get some sleep, but it was another windy noisy rolling night on Arctic Loon. Truthfully, Diana and Anne stayed up most of the night to make sure the boat did not float into the reef or out to sea.

The next morning David and his dad Edward picked us up in their ponga and took us to their beautiful motu where they live with 29 other members of the Palmarston Community. We entered the Atoll through a small opening in the reef to stunning crystal clear indescribable blue water on the shallow reef to an old shipwrecked boat from PA, USA. I am not sure what happened to that crew but the 50' aluminum mast was holding up the roof structure of the family dining area. For some reason I started humming the Gilligan's Island theme song… "the ships aground on the shore of this unchartered desert island… they will have to make the best of things… a tropical island… like Robinson Crusoe" …you get the drift! All inhabitants on Palmerston are related to William Marsters who settled here from Lancashire, England in 1862 with 3 wives and 26 children. We met additional members at their family compound and started to get a feel for what life is like to live here in 2019. Edward's extended family was so warm and hospitable. Our tour of the tiny and somewhat primitive island included a visit to the customs agent, Arthur who was born here. He made sure we were properly checked into the Cook Islands. We visited another family who was hosting our young Swedish cruising friends from Gottenburg and listened to ukulele music and singing before lunch was served, the lyrics went something like "a man without a woman is like a boat without a rudder and a fish without a tail. The historical cemetery covered with pristine white grave sites and elaborate head stones told so many stories of the interesting history of Palmerston. Among the more primitive, but functional family living structures, stood a modern solar plant that finally gives the families more "comforts" in the way of 24 hour electricity - installed in 2015. Prior to the solar panels, these resourceful folks depended on generators for a few hours every morning and evening. Can you imagine how life has evolved over the last 157 years. We returned back to Edward's welcoming family and dined on a delicious lunch of fresh yellow tail and blue tuna, rice, noodles, and Tang…yes, TANG the drink of the island gods! We enjoyed a sunny walk on the white sand beaches (pictures coming when back to civilization). As we completed our genuine and heartfelt conversations with this very special family, we said our goodbyes, climbed back into Edward's ponga and returned to Arctic Loon to prepare for our next 5-day crossing to Tonga.

We are running a little off our original schedule but as Captain Anne says, "The most dangerous thing on a boat is having a fixed schedule". So, with that, it is thanks to our incredible and courageous captains, Diana and Anne who always keep us safe no matter what (crazy cold fronts/Southern Hemisphere weather, making necessary boat repairs), and to Jeff (for having to deal with Expedia to change our flights home) that we get to enjoy this amazing South Pacific offshore sailing adventure for five extra days.

I sign off today from the middle of the South Pacific Ocean (Find us on Google Earth at Lat 17 53.33s Lon 165 31.648w)… Today's 360 degree view was mesmerizing; rolling, lapis blue waves, light winds (sadly not enough to sail), Captain Diana sitting on the bow looking for whales, Captain Anne capturing memories in her journal while sitting at the helm, and Rick down below working on his new retirement journal on his ipad… Yes, Life is Good!. We have created endless memories on this incredible once in a lifetime journey. It is never a dull moment on Arctic Loon and that is no lie!

Another Blog Post to come when we get to Tonga. We will download pictures when we get any high-speed internet, definitely back in the United States of America.
~ Heather & Rick, Poulsbo, WA USA

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