We left Aitutaki headed for Beveridge Reef, a shallow spot in the middle of the ocean with no land whatsoever. Supposed to be really cool and eery to essentially anchor in the middle of the ocean. We had a pretty boisterous passage and woke up Sunday morning about 40 miles out. But then the wind really came up, it started at about 30 knots from the SW (and we were headed SW). Unable to determine if it was a short-term or long-term thing we hove-to for 6 hours to see what would happen. The wind did back around toward the SE, but it also increased to 40 knots in the gusts. Not the kind of weather you want to have when you anchor in the middle of the ocean with no land to break the wind. So, we decided to skip Beveridge and continue on to Niue. As sailors say, “the wind determines were you go.”
A day later (and a lot of wind later) we pulled into the lee of Niue. The island council asks that you not anchor in the crystal clear water (we could easily see the bottom 100 feet down) to avoid damage to the coral, so we picked up one of the Niue Yacht Club moorings. Not the most comfortable anchorage, but it did have protection from the wind and the clearest water we have seen anywhere. Humpback whales came into the anchorage pretty much every day while we were there, and spinner dolphins were also pretty regular visitors.
With no barrier reef the anchorage, though protected from the easterly winds, is still open to southerly swells from the winter storms in the southern Pacific. So, the dinghy landing can be a little rough. To solve that problem the Niueans have a crane on the wharf – you pull up in your dinghy, attach a bridle to the crane hook, jump out of the dinghy to the crane controls, and lift your dinghy onto the wharf before it destroys itself bouncing against the hard stuff. Fun!
We spent a week in Niue overall, and rented a car for a couple of days to get to the more distant tourist attractions. The whole island is a giant block of coral that has been thrust up out of the ocean, and between the interesting ways in which coral grows and in which coral erodes there are all kinds of fantastic structures. Each place seems to be just slightly different. Every place the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Other than touring we did a little shopping (Niue is the best kept secret for buying duty-free booze in the south Pacific), ate at a couple of local restaurants (including an Indian place with a five dollar roti special – Erika’s favorite), found the best little bakery in town – The Rolling Pin (only open Tuesdays and Fridays, how’s that for a work schedule?), and just generally enjoyed ourselves.