20 August 2006


Mooring Ball
Alofi, Niue
Cook Islands, Polynesia

  • From 15-Aug-2006 to 20-Aug-2006
  • 19°1.6000"S/169°56.7000"W
Greetings from Nuie!!

We arrived off the coast Nuie at sunrise and found a free mooring ball, which we tied up to. Nuie is not like any of the islands we have been to so far. It is a circular island with cliffs of limestone all the way around the edge. The only place to anchor, or moor, is on the western end of the island at Cook's Landing. That is where Captain Cook landed on his explorations. He called this "The Savage Island" because the islanders had red teeth and he thought that it was blood. But actually, everyone is super friendly!

The cliffs around the island are 100-200 feet and higher, and Cook's Landing is the only place you can moor because it is the only spot that is protected from the trade winds. There is no marina or harbor, as every side of the island is exposed to the weather. In a westerly wind, you have to leave because the winds and waves blow straight into anchorage.

The anchorage is quite deep because there are no reefs surrounding Nuie. The ocean comes straight up to the cliffs. The boats that do stop drop their anchor in 50ft of water. But by the time they backed down, they are in 150ft of water.

There are no beaches. So the only way to get your dinghy ashore is to use the crane on the concrete wharf to lift your dingy out of the water.

Nuie is one of the world's smallest self-governing states. It is associated with New Zealand. The only way to fly to Nuie is on the Friday flight from New Zealand. The New Zealand Dollar is the currency here.

There are less than 1100 people living here. In 2004, cyclone Heta destroyed much of the island, which is still very evident as you travel around the island. There are a few tourists that fly here to dive in the exceptionally clear water. They also enjoy some offshore fishing. But for the most part, I think most of the visitors are the cruisers that stop in here on their way to Tonga.

After bringing the customs officer aboard with our dingy (customs here does not have a boat. So you have to go and get him with your dingy), we got to go ashore and explore Nuie. The town of Alofi is very small, with a few restaurants and a grocery store. It is a real contrast from French Polynesia because here, all the islanders have New Zealand accents and drive on the left side of the road. Everyone is super nice. If you are walking, cars will stop just to give you a ride!

We spent one night with the other cruisers in the harbor at Willy's Washaway Bar, which is just a small rock building by the ocean. They had a band playing called "Raw Fish". The bar had no power, and when we arrived someone had to run into town to get a generator for the band and to keep the beer cold!

The next day a weather front moved through, bringing winds from the west. When this happens, you really can not leave because you can not depart the island until you check out with customs. And, you can not get ashore because the waves break against the concrete wharf. So for 24 hours, all us the cruisers were stuck on their boats, with winds and waves coming straight into the mooring field.

It was a very rolly night, with not much sleep for anyone. The one good part for us is that we were not at sea when this storm hit. All the boats that were out there got really beat up by huge waves and high winds. One boat reported 20-30 foot seas. Most all the boats that arrived after this storm had damage.

For our last few days all us cruisers chipped in and rented a van to tour the island. Nuie has large limestone cliffs that have been eaten away by the ocean. And, it is pretty awesome watching the large waves crashing against the cliffs.

On Sunday, our last day here, we all decided to play a round of golf on Nuie's 9-hole golf course. This was lots of fun! Six of us played in teams of three, the third being a local island lady golf pro. She told us which way to hit the balls while we drank all the beer that we were carrying around. After the game, the ladies from the club put on a big dinner for all the cruisers and kids. I think everyone that was on a boat was there, as there was at least 20 people attending.

One last note. If you are not a member of a yacht club, and would like to support a very worthwhile cause, then join the Nuie Yacht Club! The yacht club provides the mooring buoys in the harbor, and they had their club building blown away during cyclone Heta. There really seems to be only 2 club members on the island who carry radios with them and make themselves available to the cruisers. They have weekly BBQ's, and they provide rides whenever someone needs to get somewhere. Their annual membership is only $20.00NZD. So this is the cheapest yacht club you can join.

Next stop Tonga!

Note From Ron:
  • Captain Cook sighted at Niue in 20-June-1774 during his second voyage. He never actually landed because he was chased off three times by the "savage" natives. No other visits by western ships were recorded for another 50 years. You can read Cook's journal entry for that day here.
  • Here is a web page with some excellent photos of Niue and the rought anchorage.

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