Friday, May 20, 2011

A bit about Suwarrow

Since we have some time on our hands, we'll provide a quick summary of this
place - Suwarrow. This is a small atoll in the Northern Group of the Cook
Islands. There is no way to get here other than private yacht or an
occasional supply ship - I'm guessing two times per year, perhaps.
Since 1900, the Cooks have been a territory of New Zealand, although they
now have their own inter-island government with an elected lower house of
representatives, and an advisory upper house, consisting of the island
chiefs. The economy in the islands is fragile, depending on copra (dried
coconut), pearls and tourism. The shortfall is managed with foreign aid,
mostly from NZ, and considerable amounts of money sent home by family
members working abroad. Foreign policy and defence continue to be handled by

The atoll is made up of a ring of coral, upon which there are several small
islets. The largest, Anchorage Island, is adjacent to the pass, and we have
anchored in the lee of this island. All the islands are very low, and as
with many atolls in the South Pacific, our Lonely Planet guide suggests that
their greatest threat is global warming. And we can see why. Should the sea
level rise even a small amount, these atolls will be completely awash.
Historically, these islands were inhabited by allied (NZ) coast-watchers
during WWII and their concrete building is still here. But it is Tom Neale,
who lived here as a hermit for extended periods during 50s to 70s that have
made this atoll well-known. His book, "An Island to Oneself" is a South Seas

The atoll is now a Nature Reserve and UNESCO site. During the winter months
(not cyclone season), there are caretakers living here, and in recent years,
they have a fabulous reputation among yachties. The caretakers have been
known to befriend cruisers, host potluck dinners on the beach, providing
lagoon 'tours' and fishing excursions! We had hoped that they would be here
when we arrived, but we are a bit too early.

Beside Tom's house, there is now a newer wooden structure in place, that
seems to serve as the caretaker's house and also as a gathering place.
Yachties have christened it with their colors, and we can see the flags of
many of our friends flying from the rafters, including Blue Moon, Totem, IO,
Mojombo and others. We will add our CRYC flag to those that have come before

You can check it out on google earth...our position is:
13° 14.94S
163° 06.52W


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Hi - thanks for leaving a comment on the blog! Cheers - John and Naomi