Fishing with the arrow in Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands

Suwarrow Atoll. I read about Tom Neale's life, the hermit of Suwarrow so was looking forward to seeing the atoll that he lived on alone for so many years..

Can you see it just below the 35 knot squall cloud? It was a 6 day, 700 mile sail from Bora Bora, with the last couple of days pretty rough as a front went through.

Glenda chuffed as we make it through the pass into the lagoon. I was worried about getting through the pass in 25 knots of breeze with 12-15 ft swells but it ended up being a breeze. Although we did have a 4 knot ebb tide against us, which meant we only made 1 knot of headway.. talk about a slow entry!

Cheated death again, thank god we didn’t end up like this boat.. Suwarrow has over 30 shipwrecks on it’s reef..

Finally anchored in the lee of anchorage island.. pretty nice view from the boat..

Aerial view of Anchorage island from S/V Savannah’s mast..

The pier that Tom Neale initially built..

I guess we are in the right place then.. phew.

Tom Neale’s house on the left and the “Suwarrow Yacht Club” club house on the right..

James and John, the park rangers the only two people living on Suwarrow. They live here for 6 months at a time and then go back to Rarotonga when the cyclone season arrives

The club house was a great place to hangout with James, John and the other cruisers.

The pot lucks with other cruisers were great fun. Made many new friends..

The young girls on S/V Gromit even put on a Polynesian dance show for us!

And then Glenda and the ladies got to learn the Polynesian boggie from them.. Glenda is a pro now, she is almost Polynesian!

The snorkeling was pretty good..

Especially when you see giant manta rays! It was amazing to swim with this beast. It was like a B2 stealth bomber, luckily I was not one of the targets

Also saw a spotted eagle ray for the first time ever!

Looking at all the fish made me hungry, so the boys and I decided to go spearfishing. Fred on S/V Songline and Randy on S/V Mystic were my accomplices

The boys with their fish and guns.. I actually speared 4 fish, but lost one big grouper to 5 sharks who tore it up and chomped the spear clean as I was slow swimming back to the dinghy with the fish .. It pretty awesome sight to watch so I didn’t mind losing the fish that much..

After filleting our fish, James offered the remains to the sharks.. another awesome sight. Thank god they don’t like me!

While I was out spearfishing Glenda had Art day on the island.. She drew a portrait of John. Pretty amazing likeness!

Glenda leaving a point on the club house..

She is creating the world’s biggest piece of art, leaving points at the key places she visits on the trip. She will then join the points together in a conceptual sculpture.. I am sure you will be reading about it in the papers soon!

John also gave Glenda a tour of their vegetable garden. They have to be completely self sufficient since there is no supply ship.

After 9 days, it was time to go.. We said our goodbyes to James & John, signed the log book and left them a few supplies.

Glenda used her artistic skills to spruce up my old beer flag which we nailed to the club house beam with other flags.. Hopefully it will still be here when I come back in 10 years time..

I tried to camouflage myself by trying to blend in with the palm trees colours so that we could stay past our 2 week limit but it didn’t work 🙁

Our final sunset in Suwarrow.. Sudden Stops is the boat rightmost but one..

Leaving in ideal sailing conditions with Suwarrow in the background.. It was a magical place, the rangers and cruisers formed such a tight knit community,  we almost felt like we were leaving our family behind..

Next stop, the Vava’u Group, Kingdom to Tonga, 700 miles WSW!

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Author: Chet

Avid sailor.

1 thought on “Fishing with the arrow in Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands”

  1. Love that picture from the mast…who took that??? He must have been a professional??? I hate it that we’ve parted ways, but hopefully we can keep in touch through our blogs… Safe sailing.

    Take care,
    s/v Savannah
    Andy, Monica, Jake

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