Well it looks like we’re finally going to get a break in the weather long enough to get across the Cook Islands. Sadly, we’ll have to admit defeat on a stop a Rarotonga, though, because the weather that is building now is in that neighborhood. There’s a guy down here named Bob McDavitt who is the guru of the Kiwi weather folks. He writes a weekly “weathergram” which you’re foolish not to pay attention to. When he uses a single word to describe an area, and it’s “Avoid”, we know to listen to him. That’s his advice for the Southern Cooks this coming week, which is where Rarotonga is.
We were going to leave tomorrow, but managed to completely destroy ourselves on a “hike” yesterday. I use the work hike very loosely in this case because it really wasn’t a hike. It was a climb. Three solid hours straight up, using roots and ropes to literally scale the side of the mountain. The most incredibly suckful thing was, though, that Rob & I got shut out 25 minutes from the top. There’s one last area where you’re using ropes to climb straight up a creek bed through the last overhang on top. According to our friend Ann who climbed it the day before us, there were 3 ropes. Bob, our other friend who climbed it last week was certain there were four ropes, extending from the bottom all the way to the top.
Yesterday there were only two ropes. The bottom section was a nearly vertical climb about 8′ high in wet rocks, but there were good footholds and handholds. The two middle sections each had a rope that we used to literally pull ourselves up the rocks. The last section, about 60′ long did not have a rope at all. The rocks were pretty wet from a rainfall the night before and neither of us could find a spot that wasn’t too slippery to even start the ascent. Looking down the creek bed behind us and knowing we’d fall all the way to the bottom (probably 100′ straight down bouncing off rocks) just didn’t sound like a good idea. So we gave up and turned back. Our friends Phillip & Leslie on Carina were ahead of us and made it up that section, but I have no idea how they did. We weren’t too tired to continue, we just couldn’t convince ourselves we could do it without falling and causing major damage to our bodies high up on top of that mountain.
So we turned around and had another 3 hours straight down. Again, we had to use ropes in the steepest rocky areas and roots all the way down, mostly descending backwards and holding on to anything that would keep us from falling. It was muddy from the rain and we were just absolutely filthy and exhausted by the time we reached the bottom. We both woke up about 3:00 this morning when our aspirin and muscle relaxers wore off and there are few places on either of us that don’t ache pretty good today. It was definitely the most technical and challenging “hike” we’ve ever been on. I’m glad we did it, and sorry I finally have to say there’s a hike I didn’t make it to the top of, but definitely wouldn’t try it again. OK, if I knew all of the ropes were back maybe I would. But in retrospect I’ve got to say I’d rather be the guy who got there after the ropes were gone than the guy who was on the rope when it broke.
So now that we know we can’t go to Rarotonga I’ve got to provision the boat well enough here in Bora Bora to get us to Tonga, with a short stop in Niue on the way. Grocery shopping is a big challenge for us in the French stores, but we’ll make one last trip tomorrow and then pack the bicycles back up in the forward cabin under the bed. The dive gear is all cleaned up and packed away and all of our to-do’s and small repairs are done. Yohelah is ready for her last two big passages, about 1,500 miles to Tonga and then another 1,350 down to northern New Zealand. We’ll have about a month to enjoy Tonga before we start watching for a weather window for the passage south. It’s a tricky passage, heading into the westerlies in the Southern Ocean, so there’ll be lots to write about that later. Hopefully by then Hello World will have caught up with us. Axel’s still in Tahiti waiting for a doctor’s release before they head this direction. We miss their company and hope he gets well soon.